With the summer 2017 blockbuster season underway, I was curious how many films could meet the Captain America: Civil War standard of having at least three black characters. Not just as extras, but at least had names. Like Joe Blow instead of driver or Hank Johnson as doctor. Civil War had Falcon, War Machine and Black Panther. Each played major roles in the film.
How many 2017 blockbusters could meet that mark? The results weren’t entirely surprising. Not many passed the three character test especially if it wasn’t a film geared toward black audiences like the Tupac biopic All Eyez on Me (June 16), Detroit (Aug. 4) about the 1967 Detroit riots, or the Essence Festival based Girls Trip (July 21).
Some 2017 films did manage to surprise suggesting some folks in Hollywood are trying to do better. Here’s the breakdown.
Baywatch (May 26) – Of all the summer films, this one might have been the most surprising on first glance. After all, it’s not like the TV inspiration had a slew of black actors throughout its run. But Baywatch is one of the summer’s most diverse films all around.
Not only does it feature black actors Dwayne Johnson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Hannibal Buress and Armin Joseph, but it packs easily the most diverse blockbuster cast.
Baywatch stars Priyanka Chopra from India, Ilfenesh Hadera (of Ethiopian/European descent), Oscar Nuñez from Cuba, Clem Cheung and Brazilian Izabel Goulart. If for no other reason than its inclusive cast, I’m pulling for Baywatch to be a major summer hit.
Cars 3 (June 16) — Kerry Washington, Isiah Whitlock Jr. and Jenifer Lewis lend their voices to the third installment of Lightning McQueen’s latest adventure.
It Comes at Night (June 9) — A horror thriller about a family barely surviving a world terrorizing threat. They risk their safety aiding a young family seeking shelter. Carmen Ejogo (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Kelvin Harrison Jr. (The Birth of a Nation) and David Pendleton are significant cast members.
Megan Leavey (June 9) — Kate Mara stars in this based on a true life story military film about a Marine Corporal and her military combat dog. Common (John Wick Chapter 2), Miles Mussenden and Damson Idris also star.
Vincent N Roxxy (June 2) — This was another big surprise for the summer. Zoe Kravitz and Emile Hirsch star in this crime thriller about a punk rocker and a loner who fall in love and go on the run. Scott Mescudi aka Kid Cudi, Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton), Hakim Callender and Sheldon Frett help round out the cast.
Wonder Woman (June 2) — The Gal Gadot-led superhero film featuring the most iconic female hero. Florence Kasumba plays Senator Acantha, Ann Ogbomo plays key Amazon warrior Phillipus and Jacqui-Lee Pryce plays Niobe.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7) — This is one of the most anticipated films of the summer. Spider-Man: Homecoming is another big blockbuster with a very diverse cast. Zendaya, Laura Harrier, Donald Glover, Bokeem Woodbine, Hannibal Buress, Garcelle Beauvais and Abraham Attah will play major roles. That’s giving me another reason to be excited about it.
Since that was somewhat of an anomaly, I also looked at which films at least had two black actors.
Baby Driver (June 28) — Jamie Foxx looks to have a key role in Edgar Wright’s latest film. A young driver (Ansel Elgort) is forced to take part in a heist. R. Marcos Taylor (Luke Cage) is also part of the cast.
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (June 2) — Kevin Hart stars as one of the main characters in this animated movie. Two students hypnotize their principal into believing he’s a superhero. Jordan Peele (Get Out) also lends his voice.
The Dark Tower (Aug. 4) — Idris Elba has the starring role in the Stephen King adaptation. The Gunslinger (Elba) searches for the man in black (Matthew McConaughey). Dennis Haysbert (24) also has a supporting role.
Rough Night (June 16) — Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon and Zoe Kravitz star in this comedy. A bachelorette party goes wrong when the male stripper ends up dead. Mark Tallman also stars as Malcolm.
Transformers: The Last Knight (June 23) – Jerrod Carmichael and Daniel Adegboyega are part of this Michael Bay ensemble. They’ll likely take away valuable screen time from Optimus Prime and the rest of the Transformers
What failed? These are the big 2017 summer films with only one or none black stars featured.
Drone (May 26) – The Sean Bean thriller about a military drone contractor and a Pakistani businessman gets a goose egg.
Dunkirk (July 21) — I wasn’t expecting this World War II film to fare well since it’s focused on one specific battle. This Christopher Nolan film also had no black actors of any significance.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Aug. 18) — Samuel L. Jackson teams with Ryan Reynolds in this comedy. A hitman (Jackson) has to testify and needs a bodyguard (Reynolds) to ensure he makes his day in court.
The Mummy (June 8) — Courtney B. Vance plays a military commander in this Tom Cruise vehicle. An ancient evil princess threatens humanity and only a few people hold the key to stopping her.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – This series has been sporadically diverse, but this one doesn’t with only Delroy Atkinson playing Pike.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (July 21) —Rihanna co-stars in this sci-fi adventure about a metropolis being threatened. Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) and Cara Delevingne (Suicide Squad) headline the film by Luc Besson.