Superman Reboot: Movie Writer Addresses Fan Expectations For Black Hero

By Russ Milheim Posted:
Black Superman, black Man of Steel logo

It was a fairly surprising move when it was reported that Warner Bros. was looking for a Black Superman. Maybe it was the shock of the Henry Cavil-less future, or that the DCEU isn't known for making smart, bold choices. Or, it could have simply been that everything about recent choices from the DCEU has been questionable at best.

Nevertheless, those reports became all but facts shortly afterward with new details emerging, including the fact that while they are aiming for a bold new casting strategy, the film would still feature a Krypton origin for the character—though it may also be a period piece as well.

The rather sudden DCEU breakaway tactic with the upcoming The Batman film seems to be working out for Warner Bros., as did the Joker film in 2019. So who is to say that this brand-new tale of the Man of Steel won't work out as well?

With drastic changes to the source material come even larger fan expectations. So, how does something like that weigh on those involved with bringing the project to life? 


Black Superman Comics

In an interview with Polygon regarding the ending of his award-winning "Black Panther" comic run, Ta-Nehisi Coates was asked about his upcoming Superman reboot.

More specifically, Coates was asked about what the journey has been for him so far in being a part of the legacy of yet another huge superhero project: 

"Nothing I can say would be helpful here. Absolutely nothing. Nothing I can say will do anything to improve how this film is ultimately received. I got a big thing: I want people to have their own experience with the art, and I don’t want to step on it." 

Coates continued, saying that he doesn’t want to be part of the audience's experience, proclaiming that he "really doesn't want them to see (him).”

"I don’t want them to hear me. I don’t want them to see me. As much as possible, I really don’t want them to see me. I want them to see what we ultimately produce. And so what I’m trying to do is ... I’m not even being coy here." 

In an era with social media, there are many things that weigh on the creative process, even something like “letting fans in on the process.”

"We live in an era where people — because you have social media and can share so much — the instinct when you’re creating is to let fans in on the process, to let them see where you’re going. And I might could do that after. That might be an aftermath thing I would do, but I do worry about doing injustice to the art."

As Coates says, he tries his best not to let anything in the way of doing true justice to the art that he is crafting. In fact, if it were up to him, he “wouldn’t say anything ever until it’d been out and seen…”

"I just worry that you are, however unintentionally, seeding ideas in people’s head. Now, look, there’s a point where you have trailers and things where I’m going to have to talk about it, but if it were up to me, I wouldn’t say anything ever until it’d been out and seen and consumed and all of that. I don’t want to get in the way. I want Superman to have his chance." 

In the end, all Coates wants is for his adaptation of Superman “to live,” and “be greeted.”

"I really want him to live. I want him to be greeted. I don’t want me and whatever baggage the narrative of me has to overshadow that. I’ve said things in the past when I was working on things, and I guess this is still true." 

Coates went on to conclude by comparing his time working on Superman to that of his experience with Captain America, noting that it was “an opportunity for me to speak,” and also one “for Cap to speak.”

"When I got on Captain America, I wrote about taking on Captain America, and the thing I wrote was, 'It’s an opportunity for me to speak, it’s an opportunity for Cap to speak, and it’s an opportunity for me to figure out what this experience is like.' And it’s the same thing here. As much as possible I really would like to recede and hopefully make something that folks feel is worthy."


When it comes to things like comic book movies, it's going to be nearly impossible to not have to contend with high fan expectations—even if there aren't any drastic changes to the source material. It's simply the nature of the game. 

With how the DCEU is now, if this upcoming reboot of Superman and The Batman film is the start of a brand-new connected world, maybe it's just what fans want: a do-over. Even if one loves everything about the current state of the DCEU, it's impossible to deny that it isn't messy as all get out.

Thankfully for them though, there's this big film called The Flash coming out in the near future - a film that quite literally has a reset button as a key plot point. Seems like the perfect opportunity to start fresh, and bring a Black Superman to the forefront of their universe.

- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.