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Black Superheroes Who Deserve Their Own Movies And Shows

For a minute there in 2018, it sure looked like Hollywood was finally moving the dial on giving black comic book heroes the starring adaptations they'd always deserved. Marvel's Luke Cage had been going strong for two years by the time we got Black Panther in February, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse arrived in December. All three were commercial and critical hits. But then Netflix announced it wasn't renewing Cage for a third season (it also canned the other Marvel shows, like Daredevil and Jessica Jones, at roughly the same time). 

To be fair, both Panther and Into the Spider-Verse are getting well-deserved sequels in 2022. But other than a handful of black-fronted properties (we highly recommend The CW's Black Lightning), neither really blew the doors open for movies or shows starring black heroes the way some expected. So we took the liberty of getting the ball rolling (again) by compiling a list of 11 such supers that are ready for a starring role (and there's more where that came from). You'll notice that a lot of the folks on this list have made appearances in other people's movies, usually as sidekicks or supporting characters. That means the bigwigs over at Marvel, DC, and the various studios through which they release their films are willing to dip their feet into the waters of diversity. It's okay, Hollywood. The water's fine. Nail these adaptations and you'll be rolling in sweet, green cash.

Nick Fury

We're not really sure if S.H.I.E.L.D. head and eye-patched terminator Nick Fury qualifies as a superhero himself, or just a superhero manager (is that a thing? Sign us up if so). Either way, what you can't deny is that the man can kick ass with the best of them. In various iterations, Fury's led the Howling Commandos (who followed Steve Rogers in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger) during World War II, worked for the CIA as a James Bond-caliber super-spy during the Cold War, and, of course, currently helps lead Earth's Mightiest Heroes against all manner of extraterrestrial and interdimensional threats. 

If Batman and the Punisher get their own movies despite having no powers, then there's no scenario in which a Samuel L. Jackson-fronted Nick Fury movie (or a TV show, maybe as a spinoff to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), wouldn't be a hit. Of course, it's unlikely an actor of Jackson's prestige signing on for a multi-year television deal, but getting his own flagship movie in the post-Endgame MCU would be fantastic, and right in his wheelhouse. With (spoilers, if you haven't seen Endgame) Iron Man gone, Cap retired and much of the rest of the team having scattered to the four winds, a movie about Jackson's furious Fury trying to hold the line with who he's got left could be great, and might even lead into the next era of great Marvel blockbusters.

War Machine

In Avengers: Endgame, Cap handed his iconic shield and mantle to Sam Wilson (who's now teaming up with Bucky). Tony originally intended to do the same with Spider-Man, but Peter Parker decided to strike out on his own after the events of 2019's Spider-Man: Far from Home. We prefer it that way, as Pete was always a bit too green to handle the job, but that leaves the legacy without a standard bearer (Pepper Potts has her hands full with the company and motherhood). So who better to carry on Stark's fight for global safety than War Machine? 

Don Cheadle's James "Rhodey" Rhodes has been Tony's most loyal friend since the first MCU film in 2008, when he was played by Terrence Howard. He's smart, resourceful, and experienced in both combat and leadership (not to mention Tony's armor). The comics give us plenty of material to explore for a War Machine movie, too, and although his original Vietnam War-era origin is too dated, anything else is game. This includes taking over Stark Enterprises as CEO (Iron Man #284), the battle against Ultimo (Iron Man #300), or even becoming the next Iron Man himself (Invincible Iron Man #257). With plenty of Avengers street cred, this fan favorite sidekick could lead the charge into the next era of the MCU alongside Black Panther, Spider-Man, and the two heroes we've already mentioned. Without Tony, how will Rhodey go about building a suit of armor around the world? Will he even bother?


There isn't a comic fan alive who's not salivating at the thought of a new X-Men cinematic universe (XCU? Or just an extension of the MCU?) helmed by the same folks who knocked The Avengers movies out of the park, even if it means saying goodbye to Hugh Jackman's Wolverine. If Disney is smart, they'll take a lesson from their own playbook and only launch the first team-up X-Men movie after each of the main heroes has had their own outing. This, of course, means at least one Storm movie. 

In the existing franchise, the character was played by Halle Berry, a fine actress who was given little to do except fly planes and stand in the back. But properly done, an origin story about Ororo Munroe's traumatic past, life as a pickpocket, discovery of her weather-controlling mutant powers, introduction to Charles Xavier and ultimate rise as one of the leaders of the X-Men could be immensely powerful and every bit as fun. (She might even break out and be a fan favorite, a la Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman). And if all that's too much material for one movie and ends up becoming a trilogy leading up to Marvel's The X-Men, we're certainly not complaining. But if you're listening, Disney, please axe any and all dialogue about toads and lightning.


After the disappointing returns of Solo: A Star Wars Story, Disney will probably think twice before oversaturating the market with one-off X-Men movies, and risk undermining the success of the tentpole team-ups. But on the off chance they start handing out films to anyone other than the main X-Men, you can't go wrong with the criminally underrated, energy-redirecting Bishop. 

Technically he only shows up as a member of Xavier's Security Enforcers (XSE), fighting mutant-hunting Sentinels that have virtually taken over the planet decades after the main X-Men have come and gone. We'd be amazed if Disney decided to focus on that era of Marvel canon, but we're sure fans would forgive them for transplanting Bishop (and maybe the Sentinels themselves) into the modern era alongside Cyclops, Wolverine, and Storm, or finding some other workaround to squeeze him in. 

On the other hand, keeping his backstory intact has merit too: he grew up in a concentration camp for mutants, hearing legends about the X-Men. That's powerful stuff, since the central theme of the franchise is the dangers of prejudice. Maybe Bishop could be the flagship character of the next chapter of the X-Men universe, after whatever main story Disney is doubtlessly working up has been concluded. We're obviously getting way ahead of ourselves, but this character really is worth the effort to depict. And no, we didn't forget about his brief appearance in X-Men: Days of Future Past. It wasn't enough.

Misty Knight

Fans of Marvel's Luke Cage and Iron Fist shows on Netflix probably caught Simone Missick's solid portrayal of this hero cop-turned-enhanced detective already. The character's probably not movie-worthy, but if Disney develops new versions of those shows for its own Disney+ platform, she'd be a great candidate to get her own series. Her backstory, in which her arm is amputated following a terrorist attack while in the NYPD and replaced with a super-strong prosthetic courtesy of Tony Stark, would make one hell of a pilot episode (and maybe a chance to see Robert Downey Jr. in action again. The rest of the season would follow Knight meeting various superheroes around New York and opening her own private detective agency: Knightwing Restorations Ltd., with best friend Colleen Wing. In later seasons, those two would join forces to become the crime fighting duo Daughters of the Dragon, who frequently worked alongside Cage and Fist. Or, better yet: tell both characters' stories together, have them team up at the end of the pilot, and you've got a story that was made for a mid-budget, binge-worthy TV series. There are several ways to tackle this, and they all have potential.


If anyone can afford to turn their superheroics into an international organization, it's Batman. That's the exact premise of D.C.'s Batman Incorporated series, in which Bruce Wayne decides there's a whole world beyond Gotham City that could use some caped crusading. While searching the seven continents for potential local Batmen to groom and uh, franchise out, for lack of a better term, he stumbles upon future "Batman of Africa" David Zavimbe: an orphaned former child soldier-turned-cop in the fictional city of Tinasha. Impressed by Zavimbe's combat prowess and commitment to justice, Wayne plays Stark to the kid's Peter Parker by providing a high-tech suit and leading him on his first missions against the series' big bad: a global terror syndicate known as Leviathan. 

It's a story ripe for the big screen, and could be DC's answer to Black Panther. After all, DC has struggled immensely to make its cinematic universe work, surrounding its hits (Wonder Woman, Shazam!, Aquaman) with more than enough misses (Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, Justice League) to keep the plane on the ground. Maybe there's too much tone-clashing there, where both brightly-colored heroes like Superman and brooding Batman-style characters are watered down to the middle in order to work on screen together. The entire Batman Inc. storyline, helmed by characters like Batwing, is tonally consistent with the Dark Knight himself and could truly soar.

Green Lantern (John Stewart)

No, not Jon Stewart. We're talking about John Stewart, the anti-authority badass best known as the version of Green Lantern in the old Justice League cartoon. DC's first black superhero has been around since the early 1970s, when he was appointed by the Guardians as a backup for then-main Lantern Hal Jordan. Jordan and Stewart didn't see eye-to-eye on much at first, but grew to depend on each other. Since then, Stewart's gone full-time and pro, and has watched jealously as everyone but him got their chance to fight alien baddies on the silver screen. 

He came close. In 2011, Ryan Reynolds starred as Hal Jordan in Green Lantern, but the movie bombed and plans for sequels that might've featured Stewart were mothballed by Warner Bros. A second chance came a few years later with the DCEU, but once icons like Superman started losing at the box office to Marvel flicks about talking raccoons with trees for friends, that door was quietly shut too. But it's too early to give up on a John Stewart movie now. DC may have shelved plans for Justice League sequels, but they're still making movies. John Stewart's no-nonsense brooding, combined with the colorful space magic his franchise is known for, is perfect for DC. He could, and should, be the iteration of the Green Lantern character featured in this new era.


As is the case with a lot of entries on this list, Cyborg has graced the screen before. He wasn't the star of 2017's Justice League, or of the original Teen Titans cartoon that made him famous. But now might be the time to dig deep into the bench and start handing out solo movies to some of lesser-known characters rather than making everyone groan with yet another swing at the big guys. A character's pre-movie fame doesn't necessarily translate into billion-dollar success; on the other hand, Guardians of the Galaxy proved that pre-movie obscurity isn't a death sentence. We'd bet good money that the story of Victor Stone's transformation from troubled, intellectually enhanced kid to essentially a cooler version of RoboCop after a disaster led to his being augmented with machines to survive would crush at the box office, if properly handled. It could even be used as a launching point for a Teen Titans film (who wouldn't want to see a Beast Boy movie? Come on) or as simply part of a more responsibly tackled Justice League storyline down the road. DC's already shown a willingness to portray him; now they need to commit to at least a miniseries.


Both alter egos of this lesser-known superheroine have appeared on screen: Mari McCabe (played by Megalyn Echikunwoke) on The CW's Arrow, and Amaya Jiwe (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) on the same network's Legends of Tomorrow. But we say Vixen, who connects to a morphogenetic field known only as "The Red" and thus has the ability to use the powers of any animal, needs her own starring role. The character has only struck out on her own twice in the comics, once to defeat Admiral Cerebrus and once to take down poachers. But it wouldn't be hard to come up with a storyline with her as the star, presumably centering around the ancient Ghanan Tantu Totem, a family heirloom which allows the user to connect with the Red. 

Alternatively, there's a story where Vixen goes undercover to dismantle a cult in which superheroes are being brainwashed. She ends up falling under the spell herself, and only escapes after summoning the stubbornness of a mule. It's hard to image a story like that fitting into the larger DCEU. But it looks like DC is giving up on team-ups altogether in favor of one-offs, and making sequels to the ones that do well. Some of their best movies have been off-kilter and humorously strange anyway, so Vixen seems right up their alley.


You know what else is up DC's cinematic alley? Anything to do with 2017's unexpected smash hit Wonder Woman. Expectations for the film were rather low after the back-to-back disappointments that kicked off the extended universe, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. But Gal Gadot's performance gave the series a much-needed breath of fresh air and a foundation to stand on. With Wonder Woman 1984, we're getting what we hope is only the first of many sequels. We're hoping one of them will introduce Nubia, the second Wonder Woman and Diana's long-lost twin. 

In the original origin story, as dreamed by their mother Hippolyta, Nubia was abducted at birth by Mars, who used a magic ring to brainwash her into challenging Diana Prince for the mantle of Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman vol. 1, #204). She later led an attack on the Amazons that Diana only defeated at great effort (#206) before removing Mars' ring from her sister's finger. With the spell broken, the two joined forces against the God of War and defeated him. It'd make a hell of a finale to a Wonder Woman trilogy, wouldn't it? Two Amazon warriors, side by side. And in an ideal world, it'd launch a Nubia solo outing, which could be incredible. There's plenty of material for that, such as the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths version of the character, Nu'Bia. We can see The CW having all sorts of fun with that.


You're damn right: Samuel L. Jackson is beginning and ending this list. In 2004's The Incredibles, his frigidly cool-as-hell character was a stand-out favorite, and he wasn't any less fun in the 2018 sequel. Unlike films featuring some of the other, more untested characters on this list, a Frozone solo feature would almost certainly be a box office smash, and give Pixar the chance to go back and explore some origin stories for its Incredibles characters. Who doesn't want to see how he met his best buddy Bob Parr, or the first run-in with Bomb Voyage, or a handful of the freak, cape-caused accidents that informed a younger Edna Mode's utilitarian fashion sensibilities? 

There's obviously plenty of material for an Incredibles prequel, but showing all this and more from the perspective of Frozone would allow us to see the world of the supers from a fresh angle (and maybe justify a sequel or two of its own). Plus, we'd get the chance to see Frozone meet the one person who could probably take him in a fight: the greatest good herself, his own wife. Just imagine the inevitable double date sequence between those two, and a tremblingly nervous Bob with that stretchy chick who keeps beating them to crime scenes. Get on this, Disney. If there was ever a side character in a Pixar movie more deserving of a spinoff, we've yet to meet them.