With the release of Spiderman: Far From Home, phase three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is now complete. And with Disney now owning 20th Century Fox, fans are anxiously waiting for what the studios have in store for phase four.
For MCU nerds, the acquisition of 20th Century means one thing: the X-Men are coming, and sooner than you think.
Black Panther 2 is slated for release in either 2020 or 2021, and according to Nerdbot, mutant badass Ororo Munroe, aka Storm, is expected to be the first X-Men character to make an appearance in the MCU. If the studio does decide to move in this direction, it will be a turning point for the MCU, as T’Challa and Storm were married and ruled Wakanda together.
As for who will play the iconic character, it’s rumored that Disney has its eyes on Game of Thrones actress Nathalie Emmanuel. Now, this is no shade to Nathalie because she’s an incredibly talented actress and drop-dead gorgeous, but, if she is cast in the role, this will be the third time casting directors picked a light-skinned/mixed actress to play Storm, who’s a dark-skinned woman of both African and African-America descent.
In the comics and Saturday morning cartoons, Storm was always drawn as a dark-skinned Black woman, but the actresses portraying her on the big screen have always been of biracial descent. This obviously isn’t the actresses faults but rather it continues to highlight colorism in Hollywood.
Colorism is the mentality that lighter skin minorities receive more privileges than their darker skinned peers. It’s a tired idea that has roots in slavery and colonization and the fact that Hollywood doesn’t seem to care is gross. Those who are lighter tend to have more Eurocentric features and are therefore considered more attractive and marketable.
In mainstream media, light-skinned actors and actresses are always cast as love interests or shown in a positive light, while those of a darker complexion are often seen as ghetto or less intelligent.
In past film installments, Storm was portrayed by Halle Berry and most recently, Alexandra Shipp, with the latter being the more controversial of the two. Shipp has been extremely tone-deaf about fans’ beliefs that Storm should be played by a dark-skin woman. In a 2018 interview with Glamour, she said,
“We’re not going to have this conversation about a cartoon character. You’re not going to tell me that my skin color doesn’t match a Crayola from 1970. Growing up, when I was reading the comics, I pictured her looking like me. For any black girl, for there to be a black superhero, we picture them looking like us. So when I auditioned for the role, I wasn’t like, ‘Oh man, I’m not dark enough.’ I was like, ‘Finally, this is my moment.'”
For her to deduce Storm to a cartoon character is such a slap in the face to the character’s historical significance. She even went as far as to call the argument “stupid”.
Ororo debuted in 1975 at the height of the Black Power movement. It was a time when Black people were embracing their African heritage, wearing African patterns, learning about the diaspora, and giving the finger to Eurocentric beauty standards. Ororo was worshiped by her people as a goddess and embodied the beauty and strength that was coming from the Black Power movement.
Born to a dark-skin Kenyan princess and a dark-skin African-American photojournalist, Ororo is without a doubt, Black. Despite having blue eyes and white hair — which signal her powers — there’s nothing racially ambiguous about her.
But Nathalie seems to be more self-aware of her light-skin privilege than Alexandra. A few months back, a fan suggested Nathalie play Tiana in a live action Princess and the Frog. Responding to the suggestion, Nathalie tweeted,
“Nah that part has to go to an even more melanated sister.”
Hopefully, Nathalie will keep this same energy for Black Panther 2.
If she does, she wouldn’t be the first light-skinned actress to turn down a role in the franchise.
“These are all dark-skin actors playing Africans and I feel like it would have been just off to see me as a bi-racial American with a Nigerian accent just pretending that I’m the same color as everyone else in the movie. That was really challenging, to make that decision, but I have no regrets. I recognize 100 percent that there are spaces that I should not take up and when I do take up a space it’s because I’ve thought really, really critically about it and I’ve consulted people I really trust and it feels right.”
Ryan Coogler is set to return as director and writer of the Black Panther sequel. I have no doubt that he will make the right decision when it’s time to cast Storm and will give fans the backstory we’ve all been waiting for.