A majority of characters in pop culture were created many years ago. The original iterations of characters such as Clark Kent’s Superman and Peter Parker’s Spider-Man lived in a world that just doesn’t exist anymore.
Media publishers have to stay current and show an accurate depiction of the world we live in today. We can’t have the same basic white-savior-characters-saving-the-damsel-in-distress stories anymore — the social structure of society doesn’t follow that trend.
Our world is more dynamic, people in minority situations have started reaching high levels of prominence in their communities. Women are gaining some ground in the fight for equality and the Black Lives Matter movement has taken huge strides for people of color. The LGBTQ+ community comes closer and closer each and every day to true equality. The world no longer resembles 1930s Metropolis.
Publishers have noticed and comics have started to change. This year alone, Marvel introduced a slew of new characters all sharing the moniker of Captain America. One was Aaron Fischer, Marvel’s first openly gay character to use that name.
DC comics also made openly bisexual mainstay character earlier this year. Jonathan Kent, the son of DC’s original Superman Clark Kent and the current DC Comics Superman, came out on the cover of a Superman title in the early fall.
Warner Brothers recently announced a new project to be helmed by JJ Abrams. The plan is to introduce audiences to a new interpretation of Superman at the movies. Instead of Krypton exploding and Clark Kent’s rocket fly to earth, a new character will take the mantle. Val-Zod will be the next silver screen Supes. Val-Zod is a Black man who finds out he’s Kryptonian and takes up the mantle of Superman to help people in need.
What do all of these projects have in common? There were so many Facebook posts and Tweets complaining about woke culture in the media, but people on the internet got angry for no reason. A lot of these complaints were obviously coming from people who haven’t picked up a comic book or seen a Super flick in a long time. They don’t care about these big character moments, they care about the status quo and how it’s changing to represent modern audiences. It’s racism and homophobia poorly veiled as a “protection of the characters origins” which makes no sense because these are all new incarnations of classic characters.
If you are one of the people complaining about these characters, I’d like you to remember, they don’t belong to you. Superman isn’t yours to dictate. Captain America is a representative of all the people who live in the country. These characters belong to everyone, which means they have to represent everyone. If you don’t like it, don’t read or watch it. You probably weren’t going to anyway.