Why is batman always black in the films?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Green Lantern, Sep 1, 2012.

  1. Turtletrekker

    Turtletrekker Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Agreed. :(
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But Daredevil was created by Stan Lee and Bill Everett long before Miller wrote him. You're talking about a detail that was added to the character at some point, not something absolutely intrinsic that would have to be a part of every adaptation.

    Because that is what we're talking about -- adaptations. Adaptations are allowed to make changes in the details of a story or premise. They're not claiming to be the original work, they're new works inspired by the original work. It's allowed to change the details -- like having Iceman be a younger member of the X-Men than Storm, or giving Spidey organic webshooters and making MJ his high-school crush, or having Lex Luthor be a toupee-wearing goofball who hangs out in sewers with morons and is obsessed with real estate.

    Besides, there are black Catholics out there. There have been black Catholics in the Americas since the 16th century. There are African-Americans who have grown up in Catholic churches in predominantly Irish or other communities. So someone whose religious history is Irish Catholic doesn't have to be white.


    That's a cultural assumption, and not everyone shares that view. Even so, how does it change anything? We've already had many instances of characters being played by actors of different races. It's been happening since 1969, for Pete's sake. It makes no sense to debate whether it should be done when it's already been done regularly throughout our lives.


    But that's just the point -- it's not criticizing the actual viewpoint. It's lying about what the viewpoint is in order to avoid any genuine discussion of it. When I talk about diversity and someone calls me "PC," that is a complete lie. I am not in favor of diversity because I'm trying to look good politically or improve my status or something. I am in favor of diversity because I personally like it and think it's right. So accusing me of being PC is not criticizing my viewpoint. It's not even addressing my viewpoint. It's ignoring my actual belief and putting up a straw man in its place. And that is not legitimate discussion of the issue. It's simply an ad hominem attack. It's calling me a liar and a hypocrite rather than acknowledging that I might sincerely believe in diversity and engaging with me fairly and honestly on those grounds.


    I really don't see why Batman or Superman has to be white. Especially Superman, who isn't even human -- and who's explicitly adopted, so he doesn't even have to be the same race as Ma and Pa Kent. Not to mention that we've already had a half-Japanese actor, Dean Cain, play Superman. It didn't seem to cause any problems.


    That's absolutely wrong. If someone comes along who absolutely kills in the auditions, if they're by far the best actor for the role, surpassing everyone else, and they happen to be a different race than the character in the comics, then that's a perfectly valid reason to cast them, even if it has no impact on the story at all. That's certainly not "PC." It's not about trying to conform to some party line. It's just about casting the best actor for the role. That's why they cast Michael Clarke Duncan as the Kingpin -- not because of anything racial, but simply because he was by far the best choice for the role.

    Because race is not the only thing that defines who a person is. It's absolutely not true that the only reason to cast someone of a certain race is because of their race, because you want to make a statement or serve the story or something. Race or ethnicity is just one of a person's many attributes, and if the other attributes make that person ideal for a role or a job, it's simply wrong and self-defeating to deny them the job because of what color their skin is.

    (And we should note that Michael Clarke Duncan passed away today at the age of 54, sadly and shockingly. EDIT: Ah, yes, I see it has been noted.)
     
  3. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm of two minds. I don't mind enjoying a lot of older media which can have ingrained assumptions and sometimes outright racism (Lovecraft, for example) but I'm a bit weary of when people defend it saying 'he was of his time' (Lovecraft, for example) even when the position held by the author may have been unusually racist even when he was writing (Lovecraft, for... well you get the idea).

    But I can still settle down for a good Lovecraft short story. "The Color Out of Space", anyone?

    No, the point was the two examples are not comparable. It was pretty offensive and to be honest I was glad G-man dealt with it because as charged as this thread is it doesn't need another digression.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^I think they're comparable because they're both ad hominem attacks that use denigrating stereotypes as straw men rather than addressing people for who and what they really are, and that create only hostility rather than understanding. That was what I meant to convey by the analogy. I didn't intend any offense by it; I simply meant to convey how deeply offensive the idea and accusation of "political correctness" is to me.
     
  5. the G-man

    the G-man Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It might be. Unlike Batman or most of the others ones mentioned here, Superman has no mask. His face needs to look a certain vague way to be recognizable on a gut level (at least to me). That doesn’t mean he couldn’t be mixed race (Dean Cain still looked like “Superman”) but there still needs to be enough visual cues that you look at him and say “yeah, that’s Superman.” Race is one hell of a big visual cue, right or wrong.

    Apparently, you missed my earlier admonition that we should try and frame this discussion without name calling or negative implications about the other posters.

    In any event, I’m 5’7”. Every other male in my family is 5’11” or taller, incuding my dad who is 6’4”. If anything, I should be sensitive to height.

    But I’m enough of a realist to know that we haven’t classified people or denied them their civil rights on the basis of height. We haven’t had “height riots.” No one gets excited or worried about the height of our president. We didn't have laws against people of different heights marrying.

    I’m also well aware that a movie that made a short actor taller or a tall actor shorter with special effects wouldn’t raise an eyebrow….but doing the same thing with their race could, if handled the least bit wrong, turn into a modern day minstrel show.

    Race, like sex, is a major class division that defines people whether we like that or not.

    You may be right but I was specifically responding to why the character in the movie that was made wouldn’t have worked as black man.

    Everything about race is a cultural assumption to one extent or another.

    First off, it’s not necessarily lying. People mistake others’ intent all the time without it being a lie.

    But even if it is a lie, that’s still a lot different than an ethnic slur. If you don’t believe me try telling a fib about an African American that’s not race-based and then do the same thing based on their race.

    I think we’re really more in agreement than disagreement on this point. I see casting the best actor as an intregal part of serving the story.

    To play devil’s advocate a bit: Race is a bit like sex. It’s an aspect of a person but not the whole. Same with age. Does that mean a movie about “Superman” should have him played by a woman? Similarly, physical appearance (which is going to include race) is, at some point on the continuum, going to be a factor in casting simply because the “author” has a vision of who his character should or shouldn’t be. Should 70+ year old Jack Nicholson, with his wrinkes, receding hairline and budha belly, be Superman simply because he’s (presumably, given all his Oscars) a better actor than Henry Cavill? Should Meryl Streep play Wonder Woman? Probably not…but I bet she’d absolutely kill in the auditions.

    But once we start talking about this issue in terms of denying someone a job “because of what color their skin is” we’re talking about discrimination.

    And if denying an actor a part because of some aspect of her appearance is improper discrimination, why isn’t it age discrimination to stop Streep from playing Wonder Woman? Why isn’t it sex discrimination to not cast her as Superman?
     
  6. Romulus Prime

    Romulus Prime Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    While I get what many people are saying with regards to not caring so much about who plays a made-up character, I understand the Admiral's stance, as well as the point made here - some people do care about consistency with regards to how a person is portrayed, be they real or fictional.

    And some of us do like consistency.

    Furthermore, people like myself who aren't totally white do often view Hollywood and other entertainment mediums as going out of their way to cast certain ethnicities as if they MUST find ways to represent specific groups, or are doing it for what seems like an almost weird "shock" value. Many times, it does come across as if it's to make us (non-white people) "feel better" about being represented. Thanks for that, but I can do it on my own via self-empowerment. I also don't need someone to imply that to have a "Latino" character is an auto-"kewl" just because the person is of Hispanic origins - something I have seen in a post on this board as recently as 2 months ago.

    Coincidentally enough, I was having a similar discussion about this with a belly dancer I know who's a Deep Space Nine fan. She was talking with me about what she didn't like about Voyager, one aspect being that she felt like they were going out of their way to try and represent EVERY ethnicity just for the sake of representation. I thought that was a very interesting observation, one which had not occurred to me.

    FYI - her ethnicity is southeast Asian.


    :vulcan:


    As for Batman's black outfit, I'm sure it's a combination of color aesthetics and lighting with regards to filming, plus "dark and moody" seem to prevail with regards to drawing people in to the story and character.
     
  7. StarTrek1701

    StarTrek1701 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Cool. In the next iteration of Blade, it'll be played by a very capable actor both in acting chops and martial arts but it'll be a white guy. When Green Lantern reboots, it'll have John Stewart but the character will be played by a very capable Asian American. Cool? ;)
     
  8. Turtletrekker

    Turtletrekker Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I've no problem with that.
     
  9. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    Before going and recasting Superman and Batman with black actors, maybe they should first do a Black Panter movie and John Stewart as Green Lantern movie? :shrug:
     
  10. the G-man

    the G-man Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Where the hell do you get off, discussing the actual topic of the thread? :klingon:



    ;)
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    To you, maybe. As I've already explained, I don't see it the same way. There have been a number of cases where I've thought, "Hmm, that person looks a lot like that other person, except for the skin color." And I'm sure I'm not the only person on the planet who thinks that way.




    But that's the past. Why should it restrict our choices in the present or future?


    Even so, again, characters in adaptations are not meant to be identical to the originals. They're interpretations, and interpretations can change a lot of things.



    But why are you talking about that specific movie? That doesn't make sense, since that movie was already made. I'm talking about adaptations in general.


    Which is exactly why we have the power to change those assumptions -- to stop being preoccupied with race as somehow important in delineating who gets to play what part.



    Okay, so at best it's a misunderstanding. It's still got nothing to do with what I and people like me actually believe, and using the "PC" label just gets in the way of having a meaningful conversation.


    Fair enough. I apologize for my poor choice of analogy.


    Worked fine for Starbuck. As I said, these are interpretations, and change from the original is part of what interpretations are about. Of course, we already have a Supergirl, so it would be a bit redundant, just as making Hal Jordan black would be redundant when we have John Stewart. But if someone wanted to tell a story about hotshot test pilot Hallie Jordan getting a ring from Abin Sur, I'd be fine with that. (You could get a joke out of it about "Hey, I don't accept rings from strange men.")


    Oh, come on, that's reductio ad absurdem. Gina Torres looks a hell of a lot more like Wonder Woman than, say, Kristin Chenoweth or Rosemary Harris does. Michael Dorn c. 1989 looked a lot more like Bruce Wayne than Michael Keaton did, or than present-day Michael Dorn does. It's ridiculous to say that just having a different skin color always makes two people look absolutely nothing alike. Two people of the same general age, height, bone structure, etc. but different ethnicities are going to look more alike than a burly 30-year-old and a skinny 70-year-old of the same ethnicity.


    I don't think anyone's denying that physical appearance can be a factor in casting, to a point. What I'm denying is your blanket assumption that an ethnic difference by itself results in two people looking absolutely nothing alike. There are certainly limits on how far one can reasonably diverge, but those limits are not as restrictive as you assume.
     
  12. the G-man

    the G-man Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Where did I say, or even imply, that? Among my points were the following statements:

    Clearly, I said it was a factor and may not be dispositive.

    Because that particular characters' sex was irrelevant to that particular character. Are you really going to argue Superman should be a woman?

    Because if you are, that seems...sorry...pretty much a classic "PC" position.

    ...and Judd Winnick gave us a black Batman with Bat-wing. So making Bruce Wayne black is redundant.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Asked and answered. See what I already said about Supergirl etc. Obviously each situation is different and it doesn't contribute to a meaningful discussion of a nuanced question if you try to reduce everything to pat generalizations.

    Again, I must stress how deeply insulting I consider that to be. I am NOT dishonestly hewing to some party line because I think it will improve my political standing or acceptance. I'm just saying that I don't have a rigid set of assumptions about how to portray a character in an adaptation, and I'm open to multiple possibilities. Exploring variations on a theme is interesting to me creatively, and part of the value of adaptations is that you do get to change things and try out new possibilities. You're just so obsessed with this ugly "PC" nonsense that you're blinding yourself to the completely different set of ideas I'm actually talking about.


    Unless you're trying to cast Bruce Wayne in a movie and the best actor for the role happens to be black. Your problem is that you're thinking of this in terms of "white actors" versus "black actors." That's the wrong way to look at it. Think in terms of actors. Just actors -- who happen to be black or happen to be white or whatever, among all their other attributes. They didn't cast the late Mr. Duncan as Kingpin because he was a "black actor," but because he was the right actor. That is so simple and obvious and it's frustrating that you won't let yourself see it because of your fixation on irrelevant racial politics.
     
  14. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    What does a film about Akitas have to do with superhero films??
     
  15. sidious618

    sidious618 Admiral Admiral

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    You just snapped at Tighr on the other page for saying some people might be racially insensitive but now you're going back to this PC bullshit? This concept of PC that you and Admiral2 have in your heads does not exist anywhere in reality. It's a right wing fiction designed to make white people, specifically white Christian men, feel like they're under attack, like they're a persecuted minority.

    There is no threat of a PC movement. None. It's a non-issue. It's a make believe bogeyman.

    Racism, however, is a real threat and it's much more worthy of discussion than a threat of a PC agenda working its way into Hollywood films. If you've watched a mainstream Hollywood film, pretty much any one, with a critical lens you'll see rampant sexism and racism on display. Combating that problem is not wrong and it's certainly not "PC."
     
  16. the G-man

    the G-man Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Then stop trying to cast aspersions on anyone who disagrees with you. You keep talking about how wonderful differing interpretations are. That would imply that people can disagree, reasonably, about how to handle a character. However, whenever anyone says they think a more (for lack of better term) traditional take works better you accuse them of being, at best, "rigid" or "blinding themselves," both of which are pretty negative descriptions of the other person.

    At some point, you're being so "rigid" in your own thinking that it does come off as "PC," maybe not in the definition you've chosen to use, but in the sense that anyone with a different viewpoint seems to be upsetting offending you.

    I mentioned it all of twice (not counting my response to you in this post) and, in one of those cases, largely defended your position as not necessarily being motivated by PC after another poster brought it up (see: earlier comment that casting a part with a different race was not, per se, PC if it served the story). Conversely, you keep coming back to it and are even comparing being called PC to a racial slur. I think the record adequately reflects you're the one obsessed with the concept.



    No. You keep trying to mischaracterize what I said. I said that race (any race) could be a factor, just like age or sex on whether a particular actor is right for a role since race is a factor in someone's appearance.

    I said early on in this discussion that I think it depends on the character and other factors. Hardly a pat generalization. Conversely we have you saying repeatedly just cast "the best actor." Since who is the best actor is either wildly subjective and, as you acknowledge, may be affected by the actors' sex, age or other physical factors irrelevant to talent, your repeated statement would seem to be the "pat" one.

    Whoa. Where did I say Duncan was miscast? Where did I ever discuss the motive in casting Duncan? You're putting words in my mouth again.

    Racial politics is "the practice of political actors exploiting the issue of race to forward an agenda." Where's my agenda? As noted above, I said it depends on various factors whether recasting the character with a different race would work.

    With all due respect, it would seem that, if anyone's obsessed with "racial politics" its the guy who keeps trying to misstate others' posts as being only about race and who is all bent out of shape that anyone might not agree with him that a guy who looked like OJ Simpson should have played Batman.
     
  17. Gary Mitchell

    Gary Mitchell Admiral Admiral

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    I don't have anything to add. I just saw this picture and it made me think of this thread:

    [​IMG]
     
  18. the G-man

    the G-man Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Not at all what I wrote about Tighr. Unless you think "race" is spelled "h-e-i-g-h-t."

    Nope. Nothing in that statement comes off like a caricature of a "PC" scold, trying to demonize anyone who thinks even a little differently than they do. Not. One. Bit. :lol:

    I said if it served the story to cast a different race, do it. Not sure how that makes me the bad guy here.

    Beyond that, I'm just going to let you and Christopher fight this one out. He's arguing that casting should be color blind and based on the best actor, not on "racial politics." You seem to be arguing race should taken into consideration, regardless of who the best actor is, to advance an agenda (combating racism).

    Finally, please understand something: My criticism of your arguments and Christopher's is not meant as attacks on either of you personally I'm pointing why I think your arguments are flawed and/or why I think they may appear, at times more strident than they need be to get the point across. If it helps, read every response I write as beginning with the phrase "I know you're not a bad person..."
     
  19. sidious618

    sidious618 Admiral Admiral

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    The fact that I bring up the problem of rampant racism and sexism in Hollywood and you reply with a laughing face is pretty much all we need to know about your views on race in films. I didn't even say you had to change anything about your life due to these problems (God forbid!), I simply say they exist and you can't even handle THAT without resorting to this PC nonsense. Is it really that scary of a topic?
     
  20. Gov Kodos

    Gov Kodos Admiral Admiral

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    Generally ethnicity or color doesn't matter, except in terms of how much a character is a favorite for me. For Wonder Woman, Gina Torres is a fine actor, but doesn't look close enough in terms of color only because I want any actress to look as much like Wonder Woman of the comics which Lynda Carter did. But a character like Catwoman, who isn't such a favorite, I'll take Eartha Kitt as well as Julie Newmar or someone else.
     

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