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Supergirl - To Refit or Create New Characters

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#1 Virgil Vox

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Posted 28 May 2015 - 01:33 AM

The Supergirl pilot, like The Flash pilot last year, has leaked on-line. Many believe that it was leaked on purpose but who knows? I generally avoid downloading leaks like this (I didn't watch The Flash pilot until it actually aired) but for Supergirl I couldn't wait.

If you watched the six minute trailer, then you pretty much have the plot of the pilot. Kara was sent to Earth to look after her baby cousin. However, her ship was caught in the wake of Krypton exploding and was shoved into the Phantom Zone. 24 years later, her ship somehow managed to escape and find its way to Earth. There she discovers that her cousin is now a grown adult known to the world as Superman and she's still a 13 year old girl. Superman takes her to live with the Danvers (played by Helen Slater and Dean Cain), two scientists who helped him learn about her powers. They take her in as her own and she's accepted by their daughter Alex. Kara decides to try and be normal and doesn't use her powers. That changes when the plane her sister is on is in trouble, and Kara leaps to the rescue. After that she decides to don tights and a cape and become a hero like her cousin.

The episode does set up what I'm assuming is going to be the season long arc. Kara wasn't the only one to escape the Phantom Zone. A prison ship harboring some of the galaxy's deadliest criminals also broke free of the Zone and crash landed on Earth. The aliens all went on the run, but they're all still on Earth. To make matters worse, they're being led by someone called the General, and it's not who you think. I won't ruin the surprise as to who the General is, but it's bound to cause a stir. Oh, and it was Alura, Kara's mother, who put the criminals in the PZ prison so they all have a personal reason to target Supergirl. The DEO was formed to combat these alien menaces, and they blame their arrival on Kara.

It's a pretty great pilot. It sets up who Kara is, her supporting cast, gets her into her Supergirl identity, has her fight against  her first foe Vartox, and introduces the season long arc. It hits pretty much all the right beats. The cast is perfect in their roles. Melissa Benoist rocks as Kara/Supergirl.

What I really loved was that it was a really upbeat, optimistic pilot. Kara is a young woman who just wants to help people however she can and she believes she can make a difference as Supergirl. Though don't worry, it's not too bright and cheerful. Hank Henshaw, leader of the DEO, is a pretty pessimistic guy who doesn't believe Kara is capable of helping them and isn't a big fan of Superman and says that there are people out there who don't trust him but don't voice that opinion out of fear. Still, optimism and fun win the day for which I am glad and it seems like the majority of the public at large view Superman as a great hero, a nice change of pace from how he's viewed in the New 52 and apparently in the upcoming Batman Vs. Superman movie.

The supporting cast is pretty great as well. The Danvers are only seen briefly but I hope they have a bigger presence in the series. Alex is good as Kara's older sister who was jealous of Kara when she first arrived. They have a good relationship but Alex is not supportive of Kara becoming Supergirl at first, mainly because she works for the DEO and knows that the PZ criminals will target Kara if she puts the S on her chest.

Winslow, or just Win, is Kara's geeky friend who has a crush on her. She confides in him and he helps her make her costume and sends her out to fight crime. He dubs them the Super friends, a name Kara is not fond of. James (only his Mom and Superman call him Jimmy) Olsen is a much cooler, confident character than he is usually depicted. This is an older version of Jimmy who has established himself as an award winning photographer for the Daily Planet and has come to National City and Cat Co. to launch a new chapter of his life. He also came to keep an eye on Kara and to give her Clark's baby blanket for Kara to use as a cape. Cat is a really fun character. She's definitely a demanding boss and she mainly latches on to Supergirl to give her failing newspaper a much needed boost, but she also seems to truly believe in Supergirl as a force for good. Or at least that's what I got out of her character. Henshaw is just a gruff, unyielding military man that sees Kara as more of a hindrance than a help.

A lot has been made that Supergirl comes across as too much of a feminist show just based on the trailer, and it definitely has a girl power vibe but I don't think that's a bad thing. This TV show is the first major solo female superhero vehicle in movies or TV recently so playing up that aspect isn't a horrible thing. Besides, if Supergirl were real there would be people like Henshaw and Vartox that wouldn't think she would be as capable just because she is a girl. Maybe people will have a problem with Alura being the dominant parent for Kara, or Kara being referred to as the Daughter of Alura, but if Clark can be Son of Jor-El and if Jor-El and Jonathan get a lot more attention than Martha or Lara, I don't see why Kara can't play up the women in her life.

Superman's presence is felt in the pilot, but besides a real quick look at him as he holds out his hand to a young Kara that just landed, we don't see him. Also, besides Kara calling him Superman at the start, he's never referred by that name again. Instead people just say him and once someone calls him the Man of Steel. Not sure why the episode seemed shy about using the name Superman. Also, he's still in Metropolis so the show is going to have to come up with good reasons for why he never comes to help Supergirl as the season progresses.

I'm guessing everyone in the DEO knows that Kara Danvers is Supergirl. At first it looked like only Henshaw knew but he explicitly states her name in the command room so all the techs there must have heard it. Really, other than Cat all the major characters know Kara's identity.

The plane rescue was pretty amazing, and looked really good. It also led to some good moments as Kara got exasperated when she sees the bridge coming up and then later gets annoyed at a TV reporter that complains about the damage done to the bridge.

Kara's two fights with Vartox were really well done as well. Kara uses her full range of powers and the two just beat the crap out of each other and get thrown through all manner of walls and cars. I loved it when Kara drops from the sky in front of Vartox's truck and just lets it ram her, throwing Vartox out the front windshield and exploding behind her as she walks heroically towards him.

I am even more excited for this show now than I was when the trailer was released. It was a great pilot and I'm betting it's going to be an amazing season.
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#2 zarkon

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Posted 28 May 2015 - 11:26 AM

Excellent write-up.  I liked the preview of the pilot and now hearing more details you described, I cannot wait for the show to start.  :LLandP:

#3 Themis

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Posted 28 May 2015 - 05:07 PM

DEO???

Is this still on line somewhere?

Sounds great!
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#4 RJDiogenes

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Posted 28 May 2015 - 06:11 PM

Well, I like it being upbeat and optimistic, that's for sure. And I'm glad that Superman exists, rather than it being one of those isolated reboots.  I suppose it's inevitable that it will be arc based, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing.  Using Helen Slater and Dean Cain as the Danvers is a nice touch.

It's quite telling that they gave Jimmy Olson the blackface treatment but the new boyfriend character is White. So much for progressive.

View PostVirgil Vox, on 28 May 2015 - 01:33 AM, said:

A lot has been made that Supergirl comes across as too much of a feminist show just based on the trailer,
A lot of what has been made by who?  It is certainly traditionally Feminist in that the women are the equals of them men, but I didn't see anything of contemporary hipster feminism about it. The trailer just showed a straightforward adventure show.
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#5 Christopher

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Posted 28 May 2015 - 06:22 PM

^"Blackface?" That's an offensive and inaccurate way of putting it. That term refers to white actors being made up to pretend to be black. This is just casting inclusively.

If by "the new boyfriend" you mean Win Schott, I thought he was just a platonic friend; also, he's not a new character, since he's based on the Toyman from the comics. And given that the show has two originally white characters, Olsen and Hank Henshaw, played by black actors, I really don't see any basis for complaining about its progressiveness just because it doesn't have an interracial romance.

Anyway, it's worth noting that the comics' Jimmy Olsen is a redhead but has almost always been played by brown-haired actors (except for redhead Tommy Bond in the black-and-white movie serials). So his screen portrayers have always had more melanin than the comics character anyway. Nothing new about that.
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#6 Cardie

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Posted 28 May 2015 - 06:28 PM

In the trailer they called Clark/Superman "your/my cousin" a lot. I wonder if it's a licensing thing.
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#7 Christopher

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Posted 28 May 2015 - 08:30 PM

View PostCardie, on 28 May 2015 - 06:28 PM, said:

In the trailer they called Clark/Superman "your/my cousin" a lot. I wonder if it's a licensing thing.

Perhaps. Or perhaps it's about not wanting to overshadow Supergirl by talking too directly about her more famous relative. Or maybe it's just being cute, like the way the movie Avengers keep referring to the Hulk as "the other guy."
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#8 RJDiogenes

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Posted 29 May 2015 - 06:08 PM

View PostChristopher, on 28 May 2015 - 06:22 PM, said:

^"Blackface?" That's an offensive and inaccurate way of putting it. That term refers to white actors being made up to pretend to be black. This is just casting inclusively.  
It's offensive because it is accurate.  They need to create real Black characters and stop putting on a minstrel show.

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If by "the new boyfriend" you mean Win Schott, I thought he was just a platonic friend; also, he's not a new character, since he's based on the Toyman from the comics. And given that the show has two originally white characters, Olsen and Hank Henshaw, played by black actors, I really don't see any basis for complaining about its progressiveness just because it doesn't have an interracial romance.  
Well, I didn't know he was Toyman. That doesn't bode well.  And giving Black actors hand-me-down characters is patronizing, not progressive.
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#9 Themis

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Posted 29 May 2015 - 06:50 PM

View PostRJDiogenes, on 29 May 2015 - 06:08 PM, said:


It's offensive because it is accurate.  They need to create real Black characters and stop putting on a minstrel show.


Well, I didn't know he was Toyman. That doesn't bode well.  And giving Black actors hand-me-down characters is patronizing, not progressive.

Count me among those who think characters shouldn't change race to satisfy demographics.  Jimmy Olson is white.  Pete Ross is white.  Iris West is white.

If you really want to play to demographics, really blow a few minds.  Make Superman and other Kryptonians black.  Or Asian.  They come from another planet.  Why should they look like the (former?) majority race of Earth's North America and Europe?  Have the rocket found by black sharecroppers and Clark and Kara grow up in the ghetto.  Now that's a significant change.  This token change of well established supporting characters is irksome to me and is just that - a token change.  Change the whole "universe" or leave the supporting characters as we know them and create new supporting characters.  IMO anyway.
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#10 Virgil Vox

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Posted 29 May 2015 - 09:08 PM

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Excellent write-up.  I liked the preview of the pilot and now hearing more details you described, I cannot wait for the show to start.

Thanks. I also can't wait for the show to start. I wish it was airing now.

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Is this still on line somewhere?

I'm sure it is. I found a ton of links when I searched for it.

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Well, I like it being upbeat and optimistic, that's for sure. And I'm glad that Superman exists, rather than it being one of those isolated reboots.  I suppose it's inevitable that it will be arc based, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing.  Using Helen Slater and Dean Cain as the Danvers is a nice touch.

It being upbeat and optimistic was what I liked about it as well. It would actually fit well with The Flash because they are both similar in tone. I don't mind the show being arc based, and the prison escapees give Kara some powerful foes to go up against every episode since, even though she hasn't used her powers in years, she still has access to them all. I am hoping that we see more of the Danvers as the series progresses.

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It's quite telling that they gave Jimmy Olson the blackface treatment but the new boyfriend character is White. So much for progressive.

While Winslow definitely wants to date Kara, she doesn't seem to return the feelings. Other than the date she went on, the episode doesn't focus on her love life at all. She's not with anyone by the time the episode airs. She might end up with Winslow or Jimmy or some other character yet to be introduced or she might not date anyone. There are certainly some characters from the comics that could be romantic interests.

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A lot of what has been made by who?  It is certainly traditionally Feminist in that the women are the equals of them men, but I didn't see anything of contemporary hipster feminism about it. The trailer just showed a straightforward adventure show.

I read a lot of criticism on various sites that reviewed the trailer, and in the comments sections. People complained that it played up her being a woman too much, or that it looked like the focus would be too much on her love life (have they watched Smallville or The Flash?), and that it looked like it would be more Devil Wears Prada than superhero show.

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Posted ImageCardie, on 28 May 2015 - 06:28 PM, said:


In the trailer they called Clark/Superman "your/my cousin" a lot. I wonder if it's a licensing thing.

Perhaps. Or perhaps it's about not wanting to overshadow Supergirl by talking too directly about her more famous relative. Or maybe it's just being cute, like the way the movie Avengers keep referring to the Hulk as "the other guy."

Whatever the reason, it just felt odd that no one referred to him by Superman other than Kara at the start of the show. Still, it didn't really hurt the episode. I am curious to see how they treat Superman as the series goes on.

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If you really want to play to demographics, really blow a few minds.  Make Superman and other Kryptonians black.  Or Asian.

Wouldn't making Superman black or Asian be the same thing you just said you didn't want to see happen? He's a traditionally white character that would be made another race to represent diversity. Though there is a black Superman who is also the U.S. President who comes from another universe and who has appeared several times. In Earth-2, another Kryptonian that was sent to Earth takes over the mantle as Superman after Clark is lost during the Darkseid War is black. We've also seen Kryptonians of various skin colors, mostly during the New Krypton arc that had Earth playing home to thousands of Kryptonians.

Honestly, I don't have a problem with traditionally white comic book characters being made into non-white characters. Comics started at a time when straight white characters were basically the only ones being created. Those characters are the ones that have grabbed people's imaginations and lasted the test of time. Yes, there are some great non-white characters now but they're not the ones being turned into movies and TV shows. Making white characters into non-white characters is a way for TV shows and movies to introduce diversity into what otherwise would be all white casts.

Though I do hope that actual non-white characters will appear soon. I would love to see Steel  on Supergirl at some point. He's a character with a lot of potential, and other than the horrible Shaq movie, he doesn't really get the love outside of comics that I think he should. Besides, it's so far been the supporting characters have have been changed. Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, Pete Ross, Heimdall, etc. All the main heroes have stayed white. If the comics would create more non-white characters than the shows would use them but even now a lot of the characters created are straight white men because that's mainly what sells. It's slowly changing with the success of Miles Morales and Kamala but we still have a long ways to go.
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#11 Christopher

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Posted 30 May 2015 - 07:57 AM

View PostRJDiogenes, on 29 May 2015 - 06:08 PM, said:

It's offensive because it is accurate.  They need to create real Black characters and stop putting on a minstrel show.

Okay, you really have no idea what the terms you're using actually mean. You're getting this completely backwards. A minstrel show is offensive to black people because it has white performers caricaturing them rather than actually including black people and letting them portray themselves accurately. This is the reverse of that -- putting an end to whites-only casting and presenting fiction that reflects the realistic diversity of the human race.


View PostThemis, on 29 May 2015 - 06:50 PM, said:

Count me among those who think characters shouldn't change race to satisfy demographics.  Jimmy Olson is white.  Pete Ross is white.  Iris West is white.

Jimmy Olsen is also a redhead, but he's nearly always been played by brown-haired actors. Ditto for the blond Barry Allen. Wolverine is 5'3" and extremely hairy, but he's played by a 6'2" actor with a shaved chest. Charles Xavier was born in New York, but he's been played by an Englishman and a Scot (and neither of them, by the way, is actually paraplegic). Lara Croft has famously large breasts, but she was played by an actress with moderate-sized breasts. Butch Cassidy looked more like Charles Dierkop than Paul Newman, but Newman played Butch while Dierkop played a minor member of his gang. Jesus Christ was a Middle Eastern Jew, but he's usually played by white actors like Jeffrey Hunter, Willem Dafoe, Jim Caviezel, etc. There has never been a requirement for characters in adaptations to be exact doubles for their descriptions in the source material.

And it's not about the characters. The characters don't exist. It's about the actors. It's about giving every actor the opportunity to compete fairly for a part. Due to the racism that was unfortunately pervasive when the great comic-book characters were created, those characters had to be portrayed as overwhelmingly white, even though it's not what their creators, most of whom were socially progressive sons of Jewish immigrants and faced discrimination every day, probably would've wanted. So if we insist that nonwhite actors should be forbidden from playing the greatest, most iconic characters and should settle for playing less famous characters established later like War Machine or Cyborg or whoever, that is implicitly saying that the overt discrimination of the past should be preserved forever. It's effectively endorsing the consequences of racism. It's saying that only whites should be allowed to play the most important roles and everyone else should be stuck with the also-rans. And that is just callous, insensitive crap. Not everything from the original comics is good or right. Not everything deserves to be slavishly kept unchanged. We can celebrate the essence of the great creations of the past without clinging to their mistakes and flaws. Indeed, such clinging only damages their legacy.

I mean, my gods, if you want to use an "authentically" black character from the Daily Planet staff, you're basically stuck with Ron Troupe, and nobody's ever heard of him. The only way nonwhite actors have a chance of participating meaningfully in a story about these iconic characters is if they're as free as everyone else to compete for roles like Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, even Clark Kent (who has already been played by the half-Japanese Dean Cain.) It's high time white people learned once and for all to share our toys with the rest of the class and stop whining about it. We're not being violated just because we don't get to hog all the best stuff to ourselves anymore.


View PostVirgil Vox, on 29 May 2015 - 09:08 PM, said:

Besides, it's so far been the supporting characters have have been changed. Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, Pete Ross, Heimdall, etc. All the main heroes have stayed white.

Granted -- that's the problem with the Dean Cain example, the fact that he could "pass" for white. It was a step forward in inclusion as far as the actor was concerned, but it was "hidden" because it didn't apply to the character. Ditto for Kristin Kreuk as Lana Lang; she's half-Chinese, but both of Lana's biological parents in the show were played by white actors, Wendy Chmelauskas and Patrick Cassidy, so that made Lana white as well. (Which was missing a perfect opportunity, since Lang can actually be a Chinese surname. Fortunately, in Kreuk's current show Beauty and the Beast, she gets to play her true ethnicity -- and as the lead character, which is a good step forward. Plus it's a character originally played by Linda Hamilton, another thing for the casting purists to whine about.)

I'd argue there's one "main character" who's undergone that change -- Agents of SHIELD's Daisy Johnson/Quake (aka Skye) is half-Chinese, both the actress and the character. Quake isn't a major hero in the comics, and has never had her own book, but Skye is a main character on AoS, and her journey has been a central arc of the show.


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If the comics would create more non-white characters than the shows would use them but even now a lot of the characters created are straight white men because that's mainly what sells. It's slowly changing with the success of Miles Morales and Kamala but we still have a long ways to go.

Yeah, I'm disappointed that the MCU's new version of Spidey isn't Miles, or at least a nonwhite Peter Parker. It's been pointed out that, given the modern demographics of Queens, New York, it's statistically more likely for a modern Peter Parker to be nonwhite than white. (Which was actually part of Bendis's thinking in creating Miles as his replacement in the Ultimate Universe.) And since Spidey's always been defined as an outsider of sorts, his story would be a perfect fit for a member of an ethnic minority. (I once read a good argument for why he should be a Korean kid named Peter Park.)

I'm still hoping that Marvel will have the good sense to cast an Asian-American actor as Danny Rand in Iron Fist. That would get around a lot of the unfortunate racial cliches in the original concept, the idea of the white man mastering Asian mysticism better than the Asians (something that's also a problem with Doctor Strange). Being an American is an important part of Rand's character, but plenty of Americans have Asian heritage, so it would still work just fine. But I doubt it'll happen. There does still seem to be a ceiling in place for lead characters.
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#12 RJDiogenes

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Posted 30 May 2015 - 04:52 PM

View PostThemis, on 29 May 2015 - 06:50 PM, said:

If you really want to play to demographics, really blow a few minds.  Make Superman and other Kryptonians black.  Or Asian.  They come from another planet.  Why should they look like the (former?) majority race of Earth's North America and Europe?  Have the rocket found by black sharecroppers and Clark and Kara grow up in the ghetto.  Now that's a significant change.  This token change of well established supporting characters is irksome to me and is just that - a token change.  Change the whole "universe" or leave the supporting characters as we know them and create new supporting characters.  IMO anyway.  
Exactly.  It's just tokenism.  And if you change things completely then what you've got is a new concept and new characters-- which is what they should be doing instead recycling somebody else's ideas.

View PostVirgil Vox, on 29 May 2015 - 09:08 PM, said:

It being upbeat and optimistic was what I liked about it as well. It would actually fit well with The Flash because they are both similar in tone. I don't mind the show being arc based, and the prison escapees give Kara some powerful foes to go up against every episode since, even though she hasn't used her powers in years, she still has access to them all. I am hoping that we see more of the Danvers as the series progresses.  
It gives a reason for her to have super-foes, but we'll also need a reason why Superman doesn't take them on.

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While Winslow definitely wants to date Kara, she doesn't seem to return the feelings. Other than the date she went on, the episode doesn't focus on her love life at all. She's not with anyone by the time the episode airs. She might end up with Winslow or Jimmy or some other character yet to be introduced or she might not date anyone. There are certainly some characters from the comics that could be romantic interests.  
It still sounds like he's the boyfriend character, as in the unrequited love trope. Although now that I know he's Toyman, it will probably be rejection that drives him to a life of crime.

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I read a lot of criticism on various sites that reviewed the trailer, and in the comments sections. People complained that it played up her being a woman too much, or that it looked like the focus would be too much on her love life (have they watched Smallville or The Flash?), and that it looked like it would be more Devil Wears Prada than superhero show.  
So they're afraid the characters will have lives?  Sounds like a bunch of cellar dwellars to me.  :lol:

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Wouldn't making Superman black or Asian be the same thing you just said you didn't want to see happen? He's a traditionally white character that would be made another race to represent diversity.
I think what he means is go big or go home.

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Yes, there are some great non-white characters now but they're not the ones being turned into movies and TV shows. Making white characters into non-white characters is a way for TV shows and movies to introduce diversity into what otherwise would be all white casts.
But it's a condescending way.  Why aren't those great non-white characters being used?  Most of the iconic characters of the 20th century, due to the vagaries of history, are White males, and they're great characters.  Now it's the 21st century (although it sure doesn't seem like it).  Where are the new iconic characters?  Where are the iconic female and minority characters?  Are women and minorities incapable of being iconic?  Are there ever going to be any new iconic characters, or are sub-par creators just going to keep stealing ideas from their betters, and occasionally throw women and minorities a bone by giving a supporting character a sex or color change?

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Though I do hope that actual non-white characters will appear soon. I would love to see Steel  on Supergirl at some point. He's a character with a lot of potential, and other than the horrible Shaq movie, he doesn't really get the love outside of comics that I think he should. Besides, it's so far been the supporting characters have have been changed. Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, Pete Ross, Heimdall, etc. All the main heroes have stayed white. If the comics would create more non-white characters than the shows would use them but even now a lot of the characters created are straight white men because that's mainly what sells. It's slowly changing with the success of Miles Morales and Kamala but we still have a long ways to go.  
There you go.  That's exactly what I mean. We do have a long way to go.  And that's because Generation Hipster is, at best, spinning its wheels and, at worst, turning back the clock.  The Civil Rights Movement, Women's Lib, and the Sexual Revolution were a half century ago.  Blacula and Blackenstein were embarrassing anomalies in the early 70s-- now that level of stupidity is trending among the tragically hip.

View PostChristopher, on 30 May 2015 - 07:57 AM, said:

Okay, you really have no idea what the terms you're using actually mean.
Don't be ridiculous.  And don't play stupid.  You know exactly what I'm talking about.  At least I hope you do, for your sake.

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I mean, my gods, if you want to use an "authentically" black character from the Daily Planet staff, you're basically stuck with Ron Troupe, and nobody's ever heard of him.
Nobody heard of Jimmy Olson before they heard of him either.  Are you telling me that you couldn't make this Ron Troupe character interesting?  I know I could.  You must be not much of a writer.

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It's high time white people learned once and for all to share our toys with the rest of the class and stop whining about it. We're not being violated just because we don't get to hog all the best stuff to ourselves anymore.  
And now you're back to lying.  What you need to do is stop trying to prove to the world that you're an Enlightened White Male and start actually thinking things through.
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#13 Christopher

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Posted 01 June 2015 - 08:11 AM

View PostRJDiogenes, on 30 May 2015 - 04:52 PM, said:

Exactly.  It's just tokenism.

No, it isn't. It's modernization. In the 1940s or the 1960s, it was plausible that the population of a large city like New York, or its counterparts Metropolis and Gotham, would have a majority-white population and that its newspapers and other businesses would have majority-white staffs. That is no longer the case. New York, San Francisco, and other major American cities no longer have non-Hispanic white majorities. So depicting the main casts of classic comics as being more ethnically diverse in an updated version is simply modernization -- in the same way that Jimmy Olsen no longer wears a bowtie and says "Jeepers" and "Leapin' lizards" all the time, the same way that Lois Lane no longer wears a pillbox hat and is no longer referred to as "our top girl reporter," the same way Perry White is no longer able to smoke cigars in public, the same way Superman no longer has a plethora of phone booths to change in.



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  And if you change things completely then what you've got is a new concept and new characters-- which is what they should be doing instead recycling somebody else's ideas.

It is incredibly nonsensical to say that changing the color of a character's skin changes them completely. What defines Peter Parker, for instance, is not that he has pale skin; it's that he's a lower-middle-class kid from Forest Hills, New York. In this day and age, demographically speaking, a lower-middle-class kid from Forest Hills is more likely to be nonwhite than white. It's simply more realistic, because it isn't the 1960s anymore no matter how much you may wish it were.


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But it's a condescending way.  Why aren't those great non-white characters being used?  Most of the iconic characters of the 20th century, due to the vagaries of history, are White males, and they're great characters.  Now it's the 21st century (although it sure doesn't seem like it).  Where are the new iconic characters?  Where are the iconic female and minority characters?  Are women and minorities incapable of being iconic?  Are there ever going to be any new iconic characters, or are sub-par creators just going to keep stealing ideas from their betters, and occasionally throw women and minorities a bone by giving a supporting character a sex or color change?

That is a totally illegitimate argument. Characters -- like people -- are not defined by their race. Their race is a very minor part of what defines them as human beings, and in almost every respect it's completely unimportant. A black Nick Fury is not a different person from a white Nick Fury; he's the same person with a different look, just like a brown-haired Jimmy Olsen is the same person as a redheaded one. A person is not "white" or "minority" as an overriding trait. The fact that a person is white or black or female or gay or Hispanic or transgender or disabled or whatever is not the single thing that makes them who they are. To paraphrase David Gerrold, these qualities describe characters rather than defining them. Each is just one portion of what makes a person who they are. To paraphrase an even more important man, characters should be judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin.

Great characters are great characters, regardless of how they're drawn or who plays them, and it's ridiculous to say that only certain categories of actor should be allowed to play the most important and influential characters. Yes, there are plenty of new iconic characters who aren't white, but that shouldn't mean the classic characters must be kept forever off-limits to everyone but a narrow cross-section of the population. Because their race is not, should not be, the only thing that defines them.


Besides -- you can complain about inclusive casting all you want, but the fact that it happens routinely now proves that you've already lost the argument. You began to lose it as soon as Eartha Kitt was cast as Catwoman, and again when Billy Dee Williams was cast as Harvey Dent. You lost it when Dean Cain played Superman, when Kristin Kreuk played Lana Lang, when Michael Clarke Duncan was the clear choice for Kingpin, when Sam Jackson made Nick Fury awesome, when Idris Elba made Heimdall a star, and so on. These days, it happens in almost every superhero production. It's the new normal, it has been for years now, and there's no reason to think things will ever go back, because the white percentage of the US population continues to shrink and because the younger generation just doesn't care about racial differences that much. The argument is over, and diversity won. It's time to admit it.

Edited by Christopher, 01 June 2015 - 10:37 AM.

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#14 RJDiogenes

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Posted 01 June 2015 - 06:26 PM

View PostChristopher, on 01 June 2015 - 08:11 AM, said:

No, it isn't. It's modernization. In the 1940s or the 1960s, it was plausible that the population of a large city like New York, or its counterparts Metropolis and Gotham, would have a majority-white population and that its newspapers and other businesses would have majority-white staffs. That is no longer the case. New York, San Francisco, and other major American cities no longer have non-Hispanic white majorities. So depicting the main casts of classic comics as being more ethnically diverse in an updated version is simply modernization -- in the same way that Jimmy Olsen no longer wears a bowtie and says "Jeepers" and "Leapin' lizards" all the time, the same way that Lois Lane no longer wears a pillbox hat and is no longer referred to as "our top girl reporter," the same way Perry White is no longer able to smoke cigars in public, the same way Superman no longer has a plethora of phone booths to change in.  
All of which is totally irrelevant to the point.

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It is incredibly nonsensical to say that changing the color of a character's skin changes them completely.
Good thing nobody said that then, huh?

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That is a totally illegitimate argument. Characters -- like people -- are not defined by their race.
And you think this is a legitimate excuse for opposing the creation of new characters who are female or non-White?

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Besides -- you can complain about inclusive casting all you want,
And now you're lying again.  Are you incapable of learning from your mistakes or what?

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but the fact that it happens routinely now proves that you've already lost the argument.
Oh, right. Tthrowing little bones to women and minorities is trending among the tragically hip, so that means I have lost the argument.  Like when the Hays Code was implemented back in the 30s. That argument was lost. Or when Dr. Wertham succeeded in censoring comics. That argument was lost. Or when married couples on TV had to sleep in separate beds.  Or when "interracial" relationships were banned. Or when Gene Roddenberry couldn't have a woman as the first officer on Star Trek. Or when homosexuality couldn't be shown on TV.  All of those arguments were lost. But, wait, no, you're wrong again.  Because there's this thing called "progress."  It's slow and it takes a long time, especially when there's so many people like you trying to sabotage it.  But twenty or thirty years from now, when people have learned that women and minorities are just as capable of being iconic as White males, they will look back on Generation Hipster and cringe.

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The argument is over, and diversity won. It's time to admit it.  
And you're lying again.  And this is why it's impossible to take you seriously.  Don't bother to respond.  You're not worth talking to.
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#15 G-man

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Posted 02 June 2015 - 07:46 AM

:facepalm-f7e:

RJ, Christopher ... your discussion regarding casting and race is getting rather heated.  So, please cool-it.

Thanks,

/s/

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Edited by G-man, 02 June 2015 - 07:47 AM.

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#16 Omega

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Posted 02 June 2015 - 08:30 AM

View PostThemis, on 29 May 2015 - 06:50 PM, said:

View PostRJDiogenes, on 29 May 2015 - 06:08 PM, said:

It's offensive because it is accurate.  They need to create real Black characters and stop putting on a minstrel show.


Well, I didn't know he was Toyman. That doesn't bode well.  And giving Black actors hand-me-down characters is patronizing, not progressive.

Count me among those who think characters shouldn't change race to satisfy demographics.  Jimmy Olson is white.  Pete Ross is white.  Iris West is white.

If you really want to play to demographics, really blow a few minds.  Make Superman and other Kryptonians black.  Or Asian.  They come from another planet.  Why should they look like the (former?) majority race of Earth's North America and Europe?  Have the rocket found by black sharecroppers and Clark and Kara grow up in the ghetto.  Now that's a significant change.  This token change of well established supporting characters is irksome to me and is just that - a token change.  Change the whole "universe" or leave the supporting characters as we know them and create new supporting characters.  IMO anyway.

That's actually a really fascinating idea. Like Red Son, but... not. I would watch that, if it was well handled.

#17 BklnScott

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Posted 02 June 2015 - 12:32 PM

Something's getting lost here.

People can argue until the cows come home about whether gender, ethnicity and orientation swaps hurt or help these intellectual properties in their original medium, but this is about live-action adaptions that due to their high cost must have broad commercial appeal or they simply won't happen. (And what would that mean for the health and longevity of comic book-based IPs?)

In the year 2015, all white, all hetero, almost exclusively male movie casts don't look or feel like the world I live in… or like a world I want to spend money to visit. Casts like that don't tell me that people like me are included - or even invited.

And certainly being absolutely faithful to the original gender/ethnic make-up of these casts has the effect of boxing out the vast majority of the acting pool from being able to compete for these jobs. Yes, jobs. These are actual people, not just beloved IPs.

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#18 QueenTiye

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Posted 02 June 2015 - 03:55 PM

Well, I'm with Scott, unsurprisingly, and with Christopher.  The idea that such and such character is "white, period" is just silly in my opinion.

To step outside of the race issue - one of the most successful and well done shows on tv today is Elementary where "Watson" is now named "Joan" and Mrs. Hudson is transgender.  Is it being "politically correct" or "creating diversity for diversity's sake" or is it opening up a new window to new storytelling dynamics? How about the fact that this Holmes and Watson is the least romantic pairing of them all (yes, I tend to see a bit of subtext in more traditional on-screen presentations).

Can the reverse question be asked?  Why can't Jimmy Olsen be black? If you're the writer, looking to manage an ensemble of characters, and you KNOW that the there are a limited number of characters available for full development and the "known characters" are almost all "white" and "male" - why wouldn't you ask the same questions being asked in this thread? Is this what the newsroom looks like today?  How do I get my story told with this cast of characters?  Maybe I just skip Jimmy Olsen entirely, because I really need some more diverse characters if I want this story to look like and feel like it exists in the real world. OR, if I really want Jimmy Olsen, does he HAVE to be white? Why?

Personally - I don't get why Jimmy Olsen is in this story at all.  He's not a character I associate with Supergirl.  But then, I wasn't a "Supergirl" fan - at least partially because she was a "girl" (I wasn't a "superboy" fan either).  I am not at all sold on this premise for this series, but I will tune in, just because I'm enjoying DC on my TV.  But my resistance to Jimmy Olsen has nothing to do with race, and nothing about it seems "token" to me.

On the other hand, the conversation does not inspire any confidence in me that a black superman or batman would get the viewership it deserved - rather, I would expect the same arguments against to be trudged out.  One could hope that's wrong... but...

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#19 sierraleone

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Posted 02 June 2015 - 05:15 PM

Lovely to see you again QueenTiye :)

As for the topic drift, I am on the same page as you, Scott and Christopher.

Edited by sierraleone, 02 June 2015 - 05:16 PM.

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#20 RJDiogenes

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Posted 02 June 2015 - 06:14 PM

View PostG-man, on 02 June 2015 - 07:46 AM, said:

:facepalm-f7e:

RJ, Christopher ... your discussion regarding casting and race is getting rather heated.  So, please cool-it.

Thanks,

/s/

Gloriosus
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Sorry about that, G-Man. I'm an old-school hippie, so the battle against racism is the story of my life and I take it very seriously.  I'll lay off.

View PostBklnScott, on 02 June 2015 - 12:32 PM, said:

In the year 2015, all white, all hetero, almost exclusively male movie casts don't look or feel like the world I live in…
Exactly. That's why we need new characters to reflect that.

View PostQueenTiye, on 02 June 2015 - 03:55 PM, said:

Can the reverse question be asked?  Why can't Jimmy Olsen be black?  
No, the reverse question is the one I asked:  Why can't they create new characters?  If Jimmy Olson was created for the express purpose of giving teenagers a character to identify with, why can't they create a character for Blacks to identify with?  Don't women and minorities in the 21st century deserve the same consideration as teenagers in the 1950s?

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Maybe I just skip Jimmy Olsen entirely, because I really need some more diverse characters if I want this story to look like and feel like it exists in the real world. OR, if I really want Jimmy Olsen, does he HAVE to be white? Why?
Creativity and originality should always win in a situation like that.  ;)
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