Marvel has seriously been stepping up its representation game and making Black women more visible on the comic rack and the screen. Now, it’s starting to do better in the writer’s room, too.
Author Roxane Gay has made history by becoming the first Black woman ever to write for Marvel Comics. The New York Times reports that she’ll be working alongside Ta-Nehisi Coates on his run of Black Panther.
“My agent was not thrilled that I was taking on another project,” Roxane told the Times. She, on the other hand is excited to take on this new challenge. “It’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever done, and I mean that in the best possible way.”
Speaking of Black Panther, the cast for Marvel’s adaptation of the series made its debut at San Diego Comic Con and it was glorious! We already knew that Lupita Nyong’o and Michael B. Jordan had signed on for the film, but io9.com reports that Danai Gurira of The Walking Dead will be rounding out the main cast.
It was also revealed that Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira will be playing Nakia and Okoye, who are both members of the Dora Milaje. Michael has been cast as the main villain, Erik Killmonger.
This came just weeks after Marvel announced that a Black girl named Riri Williams would be the new Iron Man. The news sent several outlets spinning about who could possibly be cast as the 15-year-old MIT student should she ever make it to film. However, Riri Williams co-creator Mike Deodato stated that actress (and Azalea Banks slayer) Skai Jackson was the inspiration for the character.
But before any of that makes it to the big screen, Tessa Thompson is going to be starring opposite Chris Hemsworth in the next Thor movie, according to Deadline.com.
It all adds up to Marvel’s latest show of love to Black women.
For a very long time, “diversity” in the comic world has been exhibited by sprinkling in a few black heroes here and there. And almost always those heroes have been Black men. Every publisher was guilty of using this good-enough approach to adding a little color to their panels and products.
But, as of late, Marvel has been getting serious about its representation of Black women and I am here for all o it. Finally! Better late than never.
On the comic rack, Marvel had a pretty decent roll out last year for one of the titles in the All-New, All-Different universe called Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.
Marvel introduced the heroine Lunella LaFayette on Instagram, and it quickly went viral. Prospective readers gravitated towards the intelligent, adorable brown girl with the glasses and the afro puff. Adding her to the narrative helped introduce a lot of new readers to Marvel because Black women were committed to supporting this new title.
The comic book publisher also assembled a new team of intergalactic fixers with The Ultimates, which is almost entirely comprised of Black people. Better still, The Ultimates covers people from different parts of the African diaspora, and the female characters are complex and engaging. They aren’t simpy there to fill a quota for the readers, the authors took their time incorporating Monica Rambeau (The first woman ever to be Captain Marvel) and Miss America Chavez.
Getting back to Ta Nehisi’s run writing Black Panther, he’s made women essential to driving the story forward with the Dora Milaje.
While the Dora Milaje are supposed to be a group of wives in waiting, that’s not all that they are. They’re actually a group of warriors from Wakanda, and they are some of the fiercest fighters on the planet. As such, Ta Nehisi is not simply using them as background dressing. He’s giving them a voice.
Adding Roxane to the writing team isn’t just a smart move, it’s a necessary one because incorporating her perspective as a Black woman will only mean richer story telling that is more true to a feminine (yet powerful) point of view. There won’t be any guess work on how a Blue woman would react to (or think about) a given situation, Roxane can provide clear direction. Of course, that’s not all she bring to the table, but it’s a huge step in the right direction. (Hopefully, Brian Michael Bendis will follow Ta Nehisi’s example when writing Riri Williams’ narrative).
And, if you’re paying attention, you’ll peep a member of the Dora Milaje briefly making appearance in Captain America: Civil War, facing down Black Widow.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe (not to be confused with 20th Century FOX or Sony properties), Black women are playing a major role in the upcoing Netflix series Luke Cage.
Simone Missick, will be playing Luke’s right-hand woman Misty Knight (a character once voiced by Tamera Mowry). We don’t know what Misty will be doing in the show, but we do know she’ll be taking no prisoners because although she doesn’t have any super powers, she is a highly skilled martial artist with police combat training. In other word, Misty don’t play!
Then there’s, Tessa who will be a goddess in her role as Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok. There are also whispers that she may even happen to be Thor’s love interest in the film.
The role (however big or small) will effectively make her the first Black woman to be featured in a major motion picture for Marvel Studios as a central character.
I can’t wait to see what Tessa and Simone will bring to the MCU. I’m even more excited to just bask in all of the majesty that will be Black Panther’s continued run in print and the coming film. And with Moon-Girl, The Ultimates, and Iron Man featuring Black girls, we have more places to turn for reflections of Black Girl Magic. Now we have Roxane to help keep our depictions true to us.