As American comic book writers and screenwriters march towards diversity and the inclusion of all races, why do some people still resist the change?
Black Panther is roaring in the history books with record-breaking sales and burgeoning actress Zendaya made her Marvel screen debut when she played Michelle in 2017’s Spiderman: Homecoming — but they didn’t break comic book barriers without any push back because some comic fans still take issue with Black faces — or minority faces — appearing on the big screen. Now, actress and fan favorite Zazie Beatz is the latest person of color to get torn a part by comic book mob and thrown into its gauntlet.
Viewers of the show Atlanta may recognize the actress behind Deadpool 2‘s new resident mercenary and all around bad-ass as Van, a hard-working young woman who still believes in love, and is just looking for a way to make it in Atlanta. Her role on the 30-minute TV comedic-drama is captivating, and relatable to many. So to say Beetz doesn’t have the acting chops to pull off the role as Domino would be a low blow to the sultry German-American actress. However, it isn’t her superior screen-time savvy that’s being called into question, it’s her skin color.
Despite a multi-ethnic heritage, Beetz still suffers from one apparent disadvantage: not being caucasian woman.
For those unfamiliar, this is Zazie Beetz with all her melanin finesse dripping from one of her Deadpool promo ad.
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) July 31, 2017
Although Hollywood’s resident prankster, Ryan Reynolds, was elated to announce Beetz as his new partner in crime, social media seemed to share a much different reaction to the announcement! In fact, the comments don’t attempt to support the actress and her new feat—they’re simply cringe-worthy and outright disrespectful.
Quick Photoshop edit pic.twitter.com/E0XqiOUm5I
— Jeremy Sandres (@JazzHandstand) July 31, 2017
In the Photoshopped image above, it’s quite apparent that her skin color has been changed to match the “original” character’s albino hues, and the famous spot over her left eye has been returned to black. The comments that followed this post took Beetz deeper and deeper into “the sunken place.”
This is what she looks like. More accurate and the color contrast allows the design to pop on the screen. pic.twitter.com/iMw3jebCLd
— RedRageGamer (@RageRed) August 1, 2017
Diversity only travels one direction on the spectrum. Always towards black never away….lol
— Nathanael Naused (@perr0caliente) August 1, 2017
…Really? That's domino? I'm going to sound a LOT like a racist here but aren't her colours supposed to be the other way round, IYKWIM…?
— Mark O'Leary (@TheBlackDemon96) July 31, 2017
perfect casting. I just wish they still made her white and black as that's part of her mutation in the comics.
— Tuxedo Mask (@TheLoveBel0w) July 31, 2017
And then, there was the most outrageous comment of all.
Why did you guys ignore her comic costume and model her after Barf? pic.twitter.com/LyGBeUQ1Y6
— Johnathan Glass (@JohnathanRGlass) July 31, 2017
But one cartoonist by the name of Daniel Kordek celebrated the character switch with an illustration he posted on Instagram.
Domino vs Domino! 😉 @ZazieBeetz from 'Deadpool2' vs @Tatiana_Dekhtyar from @batinthesun Productions. I chose her look because it's very faithful to comic version + I love her in action. 😉 She was also amazing Wonder Woman there! Who is waiting for 'Deadpool? 😉 #Domino #zaziebeetz #deadpool #deadpool2 #marvel #tatianadekhtyar #batinthesun #comic #fanart #tbt #fun #xmen #blackgirl #afro #illustration #instagood #instaartist #instaarte #digitalart #digital #draw #paintoolsai #photoshop #comparison
In the comics, Domino aka Neena Thurman is a mercenary with a mutant ability to manipulate luck, who joins Deadpool’s X-Force team. Her trade mark look comes as a caucasian albino woman with blue eyes (with a black spot over her left eye) and jet black hair.
Marvel’s recent approach is to make their comic and movie properties more culturally diverse; thus, the new silver screen version of Domino is cast significantly different from her in-book appearance. This lead’s to the new Hulk being Asian, Tony Stark aka Iron Man’s protege being an young African-American Student from M.I.T., and casting adjustments such as Michael B. Jordan as Black Johnny Storm (Human Torch in Fantastic Four) and Zazie Beetz as Domino reimagined as woman of color. Though fans like Kordek are excited for the change in the live adaptation, there are still fans who stand under the banner that characters should stay faithful to the comic.
The problem with these fanboy complaints is that they are often steeped in racist and prejudice remarks when characters are cast by minorities and other people of color. There are several characters that are cast differently or look conceptually different than their comic origins. Marvel Studios caught flack for casting Tilda Swinton (Caucasian) as the Ancient One instead of an Asian woman in its Dr. Strange flick. Conversely, there was no significant uproar when fellow Deadpool character Negasonic Teenage Warhead cast looks nothing like the comics yet since she remains white.
So why the issue with Beetz?
At some point if we are to truly celebrate America as this melting pot of celebrated diversity, every child can see themselves as the hero. A child shouldn’t have to wait until a character is written in their race. Beetz meets the needs of the role, so she should play the character. Why does it matter that if a fictional character who has no basis in real life be retconned for diversity sake or because an actor/actress of color best fits the role? Even though companies like DC Comics and Marvel are spearheading the diversity of Hollywood on the small screen and silver screen they still face push back. Trolling on social media, expert fanboys challenge the color guard that welcomes everyone to see themselves as that hero who is “faster than a speeding bullet or leap tall buildings in a single bound.” Gone are the days that minorities are resigned as a Native American Tonto to a Lone Ranger or an Asian Kato to The Green Hornet. Let’s not forget a couple of years ago when an internet prank boasted Idris Alba as the replacement to Ben Affleck being casted as Batman and everyone was so for it!
Times are a changing.
The Batman Rumour is an April Fools joke that fooled even me!! I was ready for some Cape Crusader shit!!!! #KAPOW!!
— Idris Elba (@idriselba) April 4, 2014