Why Batman Can't Be Black

Comments

1
This is great, Bobby. It's so interesting how the race-switching of iconic genre characters has become such a hot-topic in the wake of the Donald Glover-as-Spiderman movement. Personally, I'm all for it, in almost any instance. I'm so bored by the repetitiveness of these movies, especially since, as you said, so many of these characters were defined by hacks in the first place, and were blatant knock-offs of each other. Would the life story of a rich black kid deciding to be a masked crimefighter be different than a white one's? Absolutely. And you know what else? It's would ACTUALLY BE INTERESTING. And don't forget, there will still always be white Batman. Making these characters differently-raced for one movie won't erase the decades of canon that came before, any more than making Superman a communist in Red Sun made him a commie for life.
2
The reason that Batman can't be black is because Batman is a fascist and there's no such thing as black fascists. Can't happen. Something to do with their increased risk of cycle-cell anemia. Genetically impossible. Like someone with alopecia getting diabetes. Impossible.
4
FYI Bats aren't rodents as you say. I'm not saying Batman can't be black it wasn't so hard to make Nick Fury black. There is also Spider-Man: India. My question is What is the incentive for the owners of an established and hugely successful character like the batman to make a change like that? Wouldn't there be a huge backlash if they decided to rewrite the character of Blade as an American Indian or The character of Bishop as an Asian dude? Also if they do make a black batman who's to make sure it's not exploitative, ala Blacula? ANd FYI there is a Black Muslim Batman, Nightrunner is the Batman of France From the newish series Batman inc. You might check it out.
5
You know where I stand Bobby: Idris Elba for any and all roles. Bond, Batman, Catwoman, The Doctor, Green Lantern, All the White Lanterns and any American President for Oscar season.
6
@D&W: I stand corrected (event though we both know that Carlton is a National Socialist and not a fascist). I guess we can have a black batman now. The darkest dark night ever!
7
I could give less than a shit about this genre, but here's my facile contribution: people want their heroes to look like them. It really is as simple as that.

Yip and yell about it all you want, but it's hard-wired into us and no amount of prescient PC logic can fully talk your mind out of wanting what it wants. That's why people say dumb stuff that doesn't make any sense in strident defense of their dumb views.

I could give a fuck if Batman's whole family was black tomorrow, but it's going to upset white fans and it's not necessarily because they are racist in any way that can be helped. It seems shitty and gimmicky to upset a huge portion of your audience in that way, but whatever.

This really bugs me because it buts up against another hatred of mine: sequels and characters that don't end because there is still money to be wrung from them.

A story begins, things happen, you learn some other things as the the story ends. Then you start a new story, and learn some new things.

On a national level, we don't start any new stories, because the last story made money. I feel like our pop culture has approximately seven stories, which is disgusting given the embarrassment of creativity and talent that exist.

So, 9000 words later: USE THIS OPPORTUNITY (I.E. HAVING AN AWESOME BLACK ACTOR ALREADY IN MIND) TO START A NEW AWESOME STORY STARRING A BLACK PERSON.
8
The real reason why Batman can't be black: what American city would let a black man run around as a vigilante? would the police even work with him? or would they always be pressured to bring him in. how would a black or mixed race crimefighter work in a world of stand-your-ground laws?

Idris Elba would make a great Batman and a great Bruce Wayne. and as Ezra points out above: "Would the life story of a rich black kid deciding to be a masked crimefighter be different than a white one's? Absolutely. And you know what else? It's would ACTUALLY BE INTERESTING."
9
"But they'll only make movies that are guaranteed to make a shitload of money, which probably means not gratuitously flustering tons of white people, or taking a chance on a new story, so it's a really really hard problem to solve."

Don't care. Find another genre. No one is entitled to a stupid, huge-budget action movie on their terms. If art's proved anything, it is that people fucking love a well-told story in nearly whatever form they can get it.
10
@James Floyd: Seattle would: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_Jones
11
WHY ISN'T THERE A WHITE TYLER PERRY MOVIE PROTAGONIST?!
12
One thing is clear: Batman can't be a girl. Nor can any Presidents in any of the OMGTHEWHITEHOUSEISINJEOPARDY movies. Because, as it's pretty clear from all of society, girls just can't hang.

Idris Elba as the Black Window!!!
13
Batman maybe can't be black, but he can be gay!

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertai…
14
Yes, a black Batman would be fine with me, and Idris Elba is always the right answer. But let me throw this out at you: How about a black writer and/or director of a Batman movie?
15
As James Floyd kind of touches on above, part of the reason is because of the tradition from which the superhero emerges. . . at least in part:

“Invisible (Watch)Men: The Impossiblity of the Black Superhero”
http://themiddlespaces.wordpress.com/2013/…
16
@Commenty Colin: Your observation that "people want their heroes to look like them" implies that Batman (and other white superheroes) have no fans of color. Further, it assumes that the race portion of "look like" is by far the most important one. Why aren't all the blonde people clamoring for Superman to be blonde? All the overweight people clamoring for Spiderman to gain a few pounds. The fact that I'm 50% white doesn't make me 50% more likely to have been born on Krypton than my Cuban friends.

Your assertion that creating new stories is equivalent or preferable to changing the race of an established character ignores the power of myth. When a writer taps into a story that has been told and retold for years, part of that history lives inside their new version.The emotional charge of those repeated tellings can be put to use in the new telling. What excites me about the notion of a black Batman, for instance, is the idea of putting all of that cumulative storytelling power behind a black character and using that power to give the character a legitimacy and reach and impact in the culture that a purely new creation doesn't necessarily have.

Not that it is an either/or situation. We don't have to choose. We could have a new black Batman right along side the existing white Batman and while we're at it create a few new heroes of color. Parallel incompatible storylines are a staple of this genre, so let's play with all the possibilities.
17
Although, once you go down this route, it opens the door for a LOT of characters to change. And not just ethnicities either. There will be requests for Asian Batman, Latino Batman, gay Batman, transgender Batman, transexual Batman, etc. Not only that, but you'd have a counter-arguement for whitewashing established minority characters, "to be fair". The bigger problem I have isnt why more white characters arent being changed to reflect the times, but why arent more established minority characters being given a bigger push? Yes there's only a handful in comparison, but the majority of ethnically & sexually diverse characters ARE rich, but they lack the push from the publishers AND fans.

While everyone lapped up the Avengers, where was the outcry about the lack of minority characters in it? As amazing as Sam Jackson is he wasnt enough. Is there a reason a character like Hawkeye who was barely established in any of the previous movies couldnt have been maybe a young T'Challa or Luke Cage or Shang-Chi, or hell, any other character other than another white guy? Where was the pressure for inclusion from the fans?

The publishers have ZERO incentive to 'colorize' for lack of a better term, their white characters when theres so little support for established minority characters as is. Granted, they really havent given these chracters much of a chance, but the few times they have - look at the sales numbers. Now, if the fans actually threw their support behind these characters instead of pouring all their energies into trying to change the ethnicities of the white ones, then perhaps this wouldnt be an issue at all. You want more minority characters, vote with your dollars; put that copy of Superman back on the rack and buy a few issues of Black Panther. The next time Blade gets rebooted, go see it several times to ensure its a blockbuster. Then maybe, just maybe, the publishers will take note.

Oh, and before anyone says anything, I'm black and would prefer the characters I spent the last 30yrs reading remain as they were created.
18
You know what would be interesting? A Batman from a rich middle-eastern family, defending an Ahbu Dhabi-esque Gotham.
19
Batman can't be black for the same reason Othello can't be white. His racial identity is part of the definition of his character.
20
The theme that Batman is not able to save everyone, so his choice not bother with certain communities speaks to how the Black community may need a hero like Batman but are supposed to save themselves but when a tragedy becomes a media frenzy the hero steps in. With his resources he can train Robin to be the hero needed to protect those that Batman abandon.
21
Fuck all that when my characters are finished being created and then become stuff of our grandchildren's fantasy's there will be a rainbow of legit heros