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The uproar over Thor.


It was said by a man long since gone that, “Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.”

During Black History Month we discussed how cinema presents opportunities for Black people to take on roles that reality seems to continually deny them, granting them the chance to play characters who have vocations that are exceedingly rare in the real world.

Perhaps then, you have caught a glimpse of Hollywood’s public dream, creating myths in film by casting Black people in roles that non-celluloid enhanced life shockingly can’t provide.

It is important to note that Joseph Campbell was speaking about myths that unite a cohesive people to the past, safeguard their collective present and grant images of hope and courage to forge on to create a future where those myths may endure.

In Black Run America (BRA), the great myth that binds the nation together is maintained through sports, plus the continued inclusion of Black History Heroes in cinema and television to help satiate the appetite of those in need of entertainment.

Since 2000, the predominate form of entertainment at movie theaters and thus, wherever DVDs are sold, has been through the genre of comic book movies. Raking in billions upon billions in worldwide box office revenue, films such as The Dark Knight, X-Men, Superman, Spider-Man and a host of others have a profound impact upon pop culture.

The problem is of course the nearly complete absence of any Black people in comics or in comic book movies. Hundreds of millions of people see these films, read the comics and buy the merchandise but rarely is it in celebration of any Black comic book hero, but the continued perpetuation of the notion that” only white people can save the world” ideas.

Comic books are the 21st century answer to the myths of old that worked to make mere mortals strive to have the characteristics of the Gods, ennobling us to summon the courage of greater beings in pursuit of truth and the overcoming of personal obstacles:

Comic books have always been popular with the American people, but in recent decades their popularity has increased dramatically. The Christopher Reeve’s Superman movies may have that just shows America’s fascination with that character. Film seems to be America’s choice of form for pop culture, and comic book adaptations seem to be limitless lately.

In the more popular titles there is also more going on that is subtle that draws us to them. The characters are iconic in who they represent too. Superman represents the immigrant. He fully embraces America and will do anything to help his country, but at the same time he has to remember where he came from and that he is not truly an American (or even a human). The Hulk is a representation that anger can take over even the most rational of people and make them into a monster. Batman is an avenger, and uses fear against those who use fear to intimidate regular people. Captain America is an example of the truly patriotic and righteous as he fights the Nazis and Red Skull. The X-Men represent the outsiders, the people who suffer prejudice in the real world. It is these subtleties that also draw us in to these characters and stories.

Over time, these characters have dealt with a changing morality, and they have changed with it. That is one reason that we are drawn to them and why they are still compelling. The Greek and Roman myths changed too. The mythologies reflected morality and human nature, but there were many different versions of the stories just like in comics. Comic books will continue to reflect the nature of our society, and that is why they will continue to be popular. There is a lot more going on in comics than just kid’s stories, and that is why they will be around for a long time to come.

The problem with the comic book movie is one that plagues that Black people, for so few Black faces are seen in these films that can give Black people myths and heroes to cheer for (Barack Obama comics notwithstanding) and engineer any type of character that can import positive ideas to the Black community. The universality of heroism is a noble idea, but to Black people only characters that are distinctively Black can provide idols for young Black people to cheer for, buy their merchandise and strive to replicate (see the power of the Obama Effect).