Black History Month

Black Panther And 7 Other Black Superheroes From Film And TV You Should Be A Fan Of

From Black Lightning to Vixen.

In case you haven't heard, Black Panther is here and is making a lot of people happy. Many have voiced what this movie means to them and we have all seen just how much representation matters with this film — but this is not the first Black superhero in cinema or TV history.

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For the past two decades or so, we've been treated to Black superheroes from worlds of Marvel, DC, or beyond. These characters are complex, come from various backgrounds, have all sorts of powers, and give voice to a population that doesn't often see itself reflected in media. All in all, they are all very interesting.

So, let's take a trip down memory lane and see who these extraordinary beings are:

“Black Lightning” (2018–Present)

Black Lightning currently airs on The CW, and follows the superhero of the same name created by Tony Isabella and illustrated by Trevor Von Eeden in 1977. It stars Cress Williams as the titular character — real name is Jefferson Pierce — who is the principal at a school in Freedland who fights crime with electrical powers, specifically manipulating and generating it. Fun fact: Black Lightning was the first Black DC superhero to lead their own comic.

Watch Black Lightning Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. Eastern and catch up on old episodes here.

“Black Panther” (2018)

To be completely honest, Black Panther needs no further introduction. The Ryan Coogler-directed film follows T'Challa — the new King of Wakanda — as played by Chadwick Boseman. The character of Black Panther was created by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby in 1966, becoming the first superhero of African descent in mainstream America. Smashing box office records left and right, and pleasing both fans and critics alike, it's clear that this is more than just the latest Marvel superhero movie — it's a piece of pop culture that means so much to so many people.

Black Panther is now in theaters.

“Blade” (1998)

Blade follows Eric Brooks — the titular superhero — who is a half-vampire, half-mortal man, who protects humans by slaying bloodsuckers. The Marvel character debuted in 1973 and was created by writer Marv Wolfman and illustrated by Gene Colan. Wesley Snipes plays the lead in this film trilogy — which were directed by Stephen Norrington, Guillermo del Toro and David S. Goyer (who wrote them all), respectively — in what was the first Black Marvel character on the big screen.

Get Blade on Amazon.

“Catwoman” (2004)

Catwoman, starring Halle Berry, was directed by Pitof and is considered one of the biggest failed attempts at a superhero flick — which sucks, as it's one of the only female-driven ones (and fronted by a woman of color, no less) we've ever gotten. The character, whose real name is Selina Kyle, is commonly associated with DC legend Batman and debuted in 1940, having been created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane.

Watch Catwoman on Netflix.

“Luke Cage” (2016–Present)

Luke Cage is a Netflix series starring Mike Colter as Carl Lucas, the titular mega-strong hero with unbreakable skin, and was created by Cheo Hodari Coker. It is based on the character created by Archie Goodwin, John Romita Sr., and Roy Thomas back in 1972. Luke Cage is part of Marvel's The Defenders — along with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist — and was part of the streaming site's blueprint to bring that team together. Season 2 is expected later in 2018.

Watch Luke Cage on Netflix.

“Spawn” (1997)

The earliest project on this list, Spawn is the first Black superhero on the big screen. Directed and co-written by Mark A.Z. Dippé (who penned it with Alan B. McElroy), Spawn starred Michael Jai White as Albert Francis "Al" Simmons who, after being murdered, becomes the demonic leader of Hell and its army. The character was created by Todd McFarlane in 1992 and was published by Image Comics. There was also an HBO animated series which ran from 1997 to 1999.

Get Spawn on Amazon.

“Static Shock” (2000–2004)

Static Shock is an animated TV series that ran for four seasons — coming in at 52 episodes in total — from 2000 until 2004. It is part of the DC universe and focuses on Phil LaMarr as Virgil Ovid Hawkins aka Static, a teen superhero who fights baddies with electromagnetic powers. The character was created by Dwayne McDuffie (who co-wrote it with Robert L. Washington III) as well as Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, and Derek Dingle. John Paul Leon is responsible for the illustrations.

Get Static Shock on Amazon.

“Vixen” (2015–Present)

Vixen is an animated web series that is part of The CW's streaming platform, CW Seed, and is executive produced by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg. Megalyn Echikunwoke voices the titular character — whose real name is Mari McCabe — with the ability to mimic the abilities of any animal that has ever lived on Earth. The series also complements Berlanti's Arrowverse, and has crossed over with characters from The CW's Arrow, The Flash, and DC's Legends of Tomorrow. Thus far there have been two seasons, totaling about 30 minutes of content each, with a future that remains uncertain. Fingers crossed!

Watch Vixen on CW Seed.

Cover image via Marc Hom / The CW | The CW

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