Black Manta Is The Villain in ‘Aquaman’

Despite being a character with close to 75 years worth of history, Aquaman does not have the most well known villains. Though most recent writers have gone out of their way to rectify this, there are two known well enemies. One is Aquaman’s half brother Orm aka Ocean Master. The other is the dangerous Black Manta. 

Despite being around for about 50 years, not much is known about Black Manta. He holds the infamous distinction of murdering Aquaman’s infant child. In current comics he is responsible for murdering Aquaman’s father. In response, Aquaman murdered his father in return thinking that the father was Black Manta. No matter what era it is, Aquaman and Black Manta have a burning hatred of one another.

One of Black Manta’s most notable features is that he is a black man. It was hard pressed to find a black villain to a white hero especially back in the 60’s/70’s. This aspect is hardly played up except for one period of time where writers had Black Manta claim he was trying to find a paradise for his people. This was quickly swept under the rug. 
In more recent times writers have been playing up how dangerous and brilliant Black Manta Is. He designed a suit himself to withstand the pressures of the underwater oceans. His weapons are now explicitly designed to take down Atlanteans who have skin as tough as a rhino. There was also his interpretation in Young Justice where he had these attributes as well being the leader of a mercenary group. This gave him an army to battle the one that Aquaman has as the king of Atlantis. 

It is no surprise that Black Manta was chosen as the main villain of the Aquaman. The feud between Aquaman and Ocean Master is too similar to the one between Thor and Loki. Black Manta gives them a chance to explore new avenues. He would be one of the first black villains in the modern superhero movie age. It also establishes a nice counterpoint to Aquaman who relies on his natural abilities and someone who is self made. Now who to play him? 

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The Power Rangers Revealed

Not much to there images but now we can definitely place a face to a character. This is unique as this film is a reboot to the Power Rangers on the big screen but not on the television as those shows are all still connected with one another. This movie is another version of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers but now features a more diverse cast. So here they are: 

Ryan Coogler Is Directing “Black Panther” and It’s A Great Thing

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In 2018, Marvel Studios will release “Black Panther” the studio’s first feature film to feature a non white actor. There have been many rumors as to who might be directing the film. There were talks about Ava DuVernay, director of the critically acclaimed “Selma” directing the film. She eventually pulled out due to what she felt were creative differences. Then there were talks about F. Gary Gray directing the film. Gray was in the running to direct, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” but pulled out so that he could focus on “Straight Outta Compton”. Once that film was released and was a critical and commercial success, his name shot straight to the top of people’s list to direct “Black Panther”. He also made a lot more sense as he was proven to be able to handle big studio projects before and was not new to an action movie. Eventually he was taken off of the list once he decided to direct the next entry in the “Fast & Furious” franchise.

It was clear that Marvel Studios was looking for a black director to helm this film. The studio was coming under much criticism for its lack of diversity, both in front of the camera and behind it as well. Many people would call foul for the studio hiring a white director for the film. Finally in late 2015, the movie “Creed” was released. The film was critically and commercially acclaimed. The director of the film, Ryan Coogler, quickly shot up on the list of choices to direct the “Black Panther” feature film.

Coogler has only two major feature films under his belt. The small film, “Fruitvale Station” based on the real life story of Oscar Grant and chronicles his final day before his untimely death. The film was critically acclaimed and earned a great deal of money considering it’s very small budget. His next film was, “Creed”, which is the latest installment in the “Rocky” movie franchise. “Creed” is a unique film as it is a something of a spin-off and sequel to the movies in the franchise and something of a remake to the very first “Rocky” movie.  The film was a rousing success and in January of 2016, Marvel Studios officially announced Coogler as the director of their “Black Panther” feature film.

This is a triumph on many different sorts. This is not simply a diversity hire just to have a diversity hire. Coogler has proven that he is a talent. Both of his films have been introspective and character oriented, which helps leads to its acclaim as they are not shallow films. Part of the success of “Creed” was not only did it introduce a new character in the “Rocky” franchise but also showed a new side to the character of Rocky himself, which has led Sylver Stallone being nominated for numerous awards for his performance in the film. Coogler jumping into the franchise also showed that he can work within a studio and have numerous eyes on him, yet still be able to do his own thing. He has also shown that he can go from a tiny budget to a mid sized budget and his next film will be a large budget film and is a natural growth. Both films also feature predominantly non white casts, which is something that is essential considering “Black Panther” is the prince/king of an African nation.

Marvel Studios certainly scored with snagging Ryan Coogler to direct “Black Panther”. He is a director that could have chosen any project to do next, including a sequel to “Creed”, but instead chose to direct this film. No one knows how the film will turn out. However, with talent such as Coogler at the helm, one can expect an interesting take on Marvel’s first film featuring a person of color. February 16, 2018 is when “Black Panther” will be released into theaters and one expects great things from the Ryan Coogler directed film.

Black Superheroes in the MCU

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is an example of an amazing feat. When it was first announced that Marvel was going to be creating their own independent studio in the mid 2000’s and featuring characters that they still had the film rights to but characters that were not as well known, many were skeptical. Fast forward a few years and now Marvel is a household name and all of the studios films have been successes. However there has been a common criticism since the beginning and that has been the lack of diversity.

There has been a notice of how many movies feature a lead who’s played by a “white guy named Chris”. The lack of people of color has been one of the main criticisms. While the character of James “Rhodey” Rhodes, first played by Terrence Howard and then Don Cheadle in subsequent films, has been there since the first Marvel Studios film, “Iron Man”, many have noted that since the recasting he is simply just there most of the time despite becoming a full fledged hero in “Iron Man 2”. It is noticeable that in “Iron Man 3” that he is rarely in his suit at all in the movie instead other people use it more than him. Also his character was absent during “The Avengers” and not even given a mention as to what his character was up to.

In the “Thor” film series, there are two noticeable people of color and that is Heimdall played by Idris Elba who is a black man and Hogun played by Tadanobu Asano who is Japanese. While the character of Hogun has always been depicted as non-white and clearly influenced by Mongolian culture, many took ire with the casting of Elba as Heimdall. These characters noticeably get not much to do. The character of Heimdall is a guardian who watches over Asgard so he somewhat understandably does not interact much but even when there are situations for him to participate in, he does not appear. Hogun appeared as much as the other members of The Warriors Three in the first film but when it came to the sequel, he was written off at the beginning of the movie and only makes a quick cameo in the end.

Things began to change within “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” with Anthony Mackie playing Sam Wilson/The Falcon. The character has been a noticeable supporting protagonist of Captain America since the 1960’s and he is notable for being the first mainstream African-American superhero. In this film, Wilson is the first character that the audience sees and also gets the last line of the movie. While he is still a supporting protagonist to Captain America, he still has his own thing going on. Captain America depends on him just as much as he does on Captain America. It was noticeable as to how little the character was featured on advertisements before the movie’s release. However once the film was released, Mackie proved to be the ensemble darkhorse as his portrayal was beloved and notable.

By the time “Avengers: Age of Ultron” was released; Cheadle, Mackie and Elba reprised their roles albeit in smaller roles. Elba is nothing more than a cameo. Mackie is given two scenes, one at the beginning and one at the end. One gets the sense that he wasn’t even supposed to be in the film at all but due to his popularity and the criticism of how Cheadle wasn’t in the first film, he was added to the film. Cheadle gets the largest screen time but is still only in a bout three scenes but at least his character gets to partake in the final battle, somewhat. The real life issue of the lack of diversity within The Avengers team is addressed in the film’s final scene.

Now “Captain America: Civil War” was announced, it was always assumed that Mackie would reprise his role in the film considering his status but there was also a notable addition and that was Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/The Black Panther. The Black Panther is notable for being the premiere black superhero as his character is a genius/super athlete/king from a fiction country in Africa that has never been colonized. These two were in the movie and then when the cast was fully announced it was stated how Cheadle would be in the film as well.

During the same press conference where “Civil War” was announced it was also announced that Black Panther would be getting his own movie as well in 2017 and then pushed to 2018. This is important as he is the first black character from Marvel Studios to get his own film since the company’s first film in 2008. That would make it ten years and many have been clamoring for the character to get his own film and Marvel Studios President, Kevin Feige, always dodged and gave a myriad of reasons as to why the character wasn’t getting his own film.

Now with the Black Panther character being introduced in “Civil War” and even earlier references to his fictional country of Wakanda and arch enemy Klaw being in “Age of Ultron”, it seems that Marvel is taking many steps to make sure the character works by the time his solo movie arrives. But “Civil War” is important as it features probably the three biggest black Marvel superheros, barring characters who are part of the X-Men and cannot be used, in one film. The plot of the film will feature heroes taking sides of Captain America and Iron and it’s not hard to guess as to who’s side The Falcon and War Machine will take in the film and Black Panther playing a certain x-factor in the mix. Also worth mentioning is the character of Luke Cage, notable for being the Hero for Hire, getting his own self  titled Netflix series following a series such as “Daredevil”.

While it has taken some time and there is still much work to be done, Marvel Studios has been making an effort to diversify its lineup. It has not been perfect and there could be much more work to be done but there is an effort being made. We will see how diverse the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be in another ten years.