We ought to give Marvel its due credit for becoming more inclusive in the last few years. Minority actors and women have gained more prominent roles, both in major films and in Netflix shows, and that’s significant progress. It was only a few years ago that uproar was building over Marvel’s apparent insistence on casts of almost exclusively white, male characters. Now the casts are getting more diverse, and as a result, more fans feel represented by some of the most popular films in Hollywood.
What’s still missing from the casting mix, however, is a superhero who’s both black and female. We’ve now seen black superheroes (Black Panther and Luke Cage), as well as female leads (Jessica Jones, and Captain Marvel on the way). But will we get a black female lead any time in the near future? Frankly, looking at the slate of films on deck for Marvel, it actually looks unlikely. But because it’s bound to happen sooner or later (we hope), we wanted to take a look at some of the best bets.
Malice isn’t exactly a hero, but she may still be our current best bet at a black female lead. That’s because we know the character is going to exist, at least in some form. That’s because Malice is an alias for Nakia, which is a character that will be played by Lupita Nyong’o in the upcoming Black Panther film. Nakia is described in comic lore as one of the “Adored Ones,” which are basically women trained to be brides for the King of Wakanda (which is T’Challa, or Black Panther). In the comics, Nakia becomes infatuated with T’Challa, but ultimately spirals toward villainous tendencies, more or less as a scorned lover. It’s unclear how much of this story we’ll see in Black Panther, but people adore Nyong’o, and if she does well in the film there will probably be calls for a solo spin-off. Watching her banishment and transformation into Malice, a villain with special abilities could
be a great deal of fun.
Storm is undoubtedly the most high profile black female superhero we have. Halle Berry played the character in multiple X-Men films, and fans got used to her in the role. For years images of Berry also represented the character in a popular internet arcade game by Playtech, though the company has since discontinued its Marvel-based properties. Berry’s time with the 20th Century Fox X-Men films may be at an end, though a young version of Storm was played by Alexandra Shipp in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse. It’s very unlikely that this character will pop up in the MCU, because Marvel Studios doesn’t have the cinematic rights to the X-Men. However, Marvel worked out a deal with Sony to get the rights for Spider-Man back, so we shouldn’t totally rule anything out.
Slight spoiler alert here if you haven’t seen Spider-Man: Homecoming just yet. But at the end of that film, the character of Michelle (played by black actress Zendaya) casually reveals that she’s MJ. That typically stands for Mary Jane Watson, one of the main love interests for Peter Parker in comics. Her actual name is Michelle, so this reveal was more confusing than anything else. But if she is MJ it means she has a bigger role to play in future films – and she didn’t seem at all like the typical romantic figure we associate with the name. This MJ is dry, capable, and a bit of a loner, and could potentially headline her own spinoff – though she’s not a superhero, and the project still seems very unlikely.
Spectrum is the alias for Monica Rambeau, who’s one of the more famous black superheroes from comic lore. Her journey has covered multiple superhero egos from Captain Marvel to Photon to Pulsar to Spectrum, as noted in a nice article on black female comic book heroes posted at Gizmodo. For that reason, it’s difficult to predict where, if ever, she’d fall into the MCU. But she’s a prominent character for comic book fans, and there may be an opening in the 2019 Captain Marvel movie. White actress Brie Larson will have the title role in that movie, but it’s certainly conceivable that they’ll work out a way to introduce a Spectrum character or at least some version of Monica Rambeau. Still, she wouldn’t be the lead.