When she was in discussion with Marvel Studios about directing Black Panther, we should have been tipped off that Ava DuVernay wanted to get into the comic book movie business. Now with the news she’s turning her attention to New Gods, it seems like a terrific marriage. Warner Bros. needs more hits like Wonder Woman for its DC films division and DuVernay is a big DC Comics fan.
Diversity is a big component of DuVernay’s films. As we saw in A Wrinkle in Time, DuVernay wants her films to be more reflective of today’s society.
New Gods creator Jack Kirby also understood the need for diversity. And not just with creatures like Forager, Mantis and Deep Six.
Kirby created Vykin the Black. He holds the distinction of being DC’s first black superhero. Vykin just beat out DC’s second black superhero — fellow New God, Black Racer, by a few months. His creator? Jack Kirby.
But those two are kind of fringe characters in the New Gods pantheon. Instead of overwhelming the audience with all the New Gods, DuVernay probably needs to stick to the core characters on both the New Gods and Apokolopis side. Let’s size up some of the potential characters whose race swaps make the most sense.
On social media last year, DuVernay said Big Barda was her favorite superhero. As much as DuVernay might want her favorite hero to be a black woman, finding one who measures up to the towering Barda and can act might be a (pardon the pun) tall order.
An interesting choice could be Game of Throne’s Gwendoline Christie. At 6’3″ Christie has the height so special effects wouldn’t be necessary. And we’ve already seen her acting chops and know she could play a bad a$$ capable of handling herself against any man.
Highfather is the kind leader of New Genesis, the good guys in this saga against Darkseid. Highfather isn’t much for fighting and leaves much of the warfare up to his son, Scott Free aka Mister Miracle, and his adopted son, Orion. There’s nothing about Highfather that suggests he has to be a white guy. And if DuVernay wants a little air of authority, cast Morgan Freeman in the role.
If Highfather is black, his son can be too. As part of the peace treaty with Darkseid, Highfather put his son in Darkseid’s care while Darkseid’s Orion was raised by Highfather. While suffering through every possible torture imaginable, Scott began escaping his cruel guardians’ devices and becoming a master escape artist. Along with Barda, Scott Free lived on Earth while constantly being called on to help battle Darkseid’s forces.
There’s some precedence for a black Mister Miracle too. Shilo Norman — yet another Kirby creation — trained with the original Mister Miracle and frequently aided Scott Free. In DuVernay’s film, Scott could easily be a black guy. And with his mask on most of the time, it would help settle the feelings of those poor folks who can’t stand diversity in their comic book movies. I could really see Donald Glover here as he can pull off calm and cool with a little quirkiness.
Darkseid’s son is arguably the main New God character. His destiny is to kill his father. During his time on New Genesis he came to appreciate their way of life and sided with Highfather and company. One of the most distinct elements of Orion is his red hair and while I know hair color has never affected casting before, I kinda dig that so no need to swap him out.
One of New Genesis’ most faithful warriors and Orion’s best friend, Lightray is a beacon of light to all around him and a fiery opponent on the battlefield. He’s another character that probably doesn’t need to be race swapped. Hopefully DC sticks to his white, red and gold costume.
Barring some major changes to the story, Darkseid will be the main villain in New Gods. Hopefully, DuVernay doesn’t go the CGI route Justice League used for Steppenwolf and actually has an actor onscreen. Darkseid has grey, granite-like skin. That’s important for him and it’s such a vital part of his look that his casting should be wide open.
Darkseid’s longtime ally. Desaad is a conniving and devious torturer. On Apokolips, it’s Darkseid, Desaad and then Darkseid’s shadow. To me there’s nobody better suited for this role than Toby Jones (Captain America: The First Avenger). He has the sniveling lackey role down pat and he’s small enough to make Darkseid look even more imposing.
Assuming DuVernay incorporates Big Barda into her film, there’s no reason she wouldn’t also bring in Granny Goodness, the sadistic teacher/trainer of Darkseid’s army. I’ve got a vision of Mo’Nique now in my head that won’t get out, but Granny definitely is a strong possibility for a potential race swap of any nationality.
Those are my best guesses as to the essential characters in a New Gods film and the best bets for potential race swaps. What do you think?
Photo Credit: DC Comics