Ta-Nehisi Coates, JJ Abrams and More Superman News
Superman has been a hot topic of late. The Last Son of Krypton premiered a new Arrowverse series on CW Superman and Lois while more of the Blue Boy Scout may be coming to the big screen.
Late last week it was announced that revered author Ta-Nehisi Coates is working on a new Superman project with JJ Abrams on board as a producer.
Coates is known for writing award-winning fiction and nonfiction books on the Black experience in America including The Water Dancer and Between the World and Me. He’s also tackled superheroes before. His 2016 turn with Black Panther quickly became regarded as one of T’Challa’s definitive tales, if not one of Marvel’s best of the last decade.
It’s too early to know where a Coates- and Abrams-led Superman could go, but early reports suggest the film will feature a Black Superman. Creed star Michael B. Jordan has campaigned to play the Man of Steel for a few years now and WB may be interested in reigniting that conversation.
Whether the film is a reboot of the Superman franchise or a completely separate adventure remains to be seen. Robert Pattinson’s casting in The Batman hasn’t completely squashed the possibility of Ben Affleck reprising his role as the Caped Crusader in the upcoming Flash movie after all. This means Henry Cavill could theoretically still be in play as Supes, however unlikely that concept has sounded of late.
Superman and Race
Superman has of course been portrayed very similarly to his original comic book appearance on film and television throughout the character’s history. Dating back to his debut in Action Comics in 1938, he has been portrayed on screen as a white man with slick black hair, plenty of muscles and a strong chin.
But most of the Man of Steel’s most important characteristics in terms of storytelling have nothing to do with his physical appearance, let alone his skin tone. A man of truth, honor and justice, always standing at the ready to save the day — those are the qualities that make Superman the hero he is.
Kal-El’s race supersedes any distinctions placed on him by the Earthlings he protects. His race is Kryptonian. An immigrant from another planet trying to gain the trust and respect of the human race who has cause to fear something as powerful as him, Superman is a character ripe for larger commentaries hidden under big action pieces. Enter Ta-Nehisi Coates.
There is already precedence for Superman to be Black. DC Comics has featured two fairly prominent examples in Calvin Ellis and Val-Zod.
Calvin Ellis, the Superman of Earth-23, debuted as the Superman from another universe during DC’s Crisis storyline. It was a brief appearance but it established several members of the Justice League being Black. Actually all of the Justice League was Black aside from Batman. There is little known reason why Batman was the exception and his true identity wasn’t disclosed.
Val-Zod became the second Superman of Earth-2, replacing his adoptive brother Kal-L. Val-Zod was sent to Earth alongside Kal-L and Kara (Supergirl) during the destruction of Krypton. Val-Zod rose to the mantle of Superman after the death of Kal-L during Infinite Crisis.
The third option is Abrams and Coates’ Superman is simply Kal-El. As mentioned, there is no reason changing his race means he has to be a different character altogether.
A Man of Steel Thread Yet to be Pulled
Going back to 2013’s Man of Steel, there has been a question looming over the DCEU: who was in the other sleeping on the Kryptonian ship.
Henry Cavill’s Kal-El explores the ship to find two pods. One had a deceased body in it while the other was open and empty. The most popular theory was that the pod belonged to Kara Zor-El, Kal-El’s cousin who becomes Supergirl.
Director Zack Snyder recently debunked this rumor but said the mystery will again be touched on in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. This story thread was likely meant to set up a villain for Man of Steel 2 but perhaps it leaves the door open for Kal-El’s successor Val-Zod. This could leave the door open for Cavill to come back for Man of Steel 2 while allowing Coates and Abrams to tell a fresh new Superman story. The most likely outcome is Snyder’s forthcoming “Snyder Cut” leaves this question up for interpretation and the newly announced project has nothing to do with the Justice League story we already have.
Supergirl Cast for The Flash
It’s been a little over a week since director Andy Muschietti delivered the news to actress Sasha Calle that she’s been chosen for the role of Supergirl in The Flash.
Muschietti has recently directed Mama and It. Calle on the other hand is a relative newcomer and this is his first major motion picture. She is currently featured on The Young and the Restless.
Calle joins Ezra Miller (Barry Allen/The Flash) for a film that is rumored to also feature Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton returning as their respective versions of Batman/Bruce Wayne.
The film is expected to pull from Geoff Johns’ Flashpoint comic which sees The Flash travel back in time to prevent the murder of his mother, Nora Allen. In doing so, The Flash unleashes an alternate universe with several distinct differences from the DC Comics world we are used to. Among the most consequential changes are Thomas Wayne becoming Batman after he and Martha survive the mugging in crime alley and Bruce is instead killed. Superman is imprisoned underground and unable to gain his strength from the sun. Meanwhile Atlantis and Themyscira are at war, pitting Wonder Woman and Aquaman against each other.
How Calle’s Supergirl will fit into this story will have to wait as The Flash isn’t expected to hit theaters until 2022.