Everyone partakes in a little fancasting now and then. Whenever Marvel or DC accounce a movie, the internet, in all its infinite wisdom, quickly offers up the best person to play whatever super that's about to come to the big screen. Or they create petitions to protest whoever has been announced, because it's 2016 and that's still a thing despite it never producing anything that resembles a reason, let alone a result. Anywho, we decided to partake in something I like to call "fancasting-adjacent".
We spend a lot of time thinking about how women are represented in geek media, as well as what we as female fans think would be cool to see happen, because that's what all fans do. There's a shortage of female leads in film and TV, and even more so of non-white women. And genre has successfully gender-bent a number of roles where the results were sometimes better than the original (Battlestar Galactica's Starbuck and Elementary's Joan Watson come to mind). So I posed the question to my fellow Fangrrls as to what characters they would want to see reimagined as a woman of color. Here are our picks.
Wonder Woman -Geek Girl Diva
Isn't it about time we let the present Wonder Woman be a woman of color? Since her original appearance, Princess Diana of Themyscira aka Diana Prince and any others that wore the mantle of Wonder Woman, save for Nubia (later Nu'Bia) were all white. But does Wonder Woman really need to be white? We're talking about an Amazon warrior who, depending on the story version, was either sculpted from clay by Hippolyta or a daughter of Zeus, from a mythical island and a mythical warrior race of women.
The character was created by a team of men and women in 1941 and the character herself was inspired by feminist ideals during a time when the idea of a female superhero pushed boundaries. It's been 75 years. A lot has changed both in terms of sexual and racial equality (and there's still more work to do), but I can't imagine her original creators would have wanted to do anything less than continue to push boundaries and make Wonder Woman accessible and relatable to even more people.
Catwoman - Catrina Dennis
It is 2016, Israeli actress Gal Gadot is the world's on-screen Wonder Woman. For all of its faults, the DC Expanded Universe has put a woman of color at the forefront of its most important superhero trifecta. It's a bold move, and one that I hope will continue with other characters, but most definitely with Catwoman. In different iterations of her story, Selina Kyle is the daughter of a Cuban woman and an American white man, and while it doesn't define her character, highlighting her heritage would make a major impact on the growing diversity of the DCEU. I think what makes Catwoman such a unique suggestion is that we've already seen her role portrayed by women of color before -- Halle Berry and Eartha Kitt -- but never by a woman of Latin descent.
Comics and superheroes are still areas where Latino characters, especially women, are hard to find. But in the DC universe, a growing number of Latino superheroes are being brought to the forefront (such as Jaime Reyes, also known as Blue Beetle). As it is now, Catwoman holds a successful standalone comic series all on her own and has been an integral part of furthering not only her own story, but that of several characters who reach far and beyond the limits of Gotham City. With all that in mind, highlighting her ancestry in the comics and on the big screen is a major change I'd like to see happen soon.
Nathan Drake- Michelle Villaneuva
“Michelle,” you’re saying, “There’s already a female Nathan Drake and her name is Lara Croft. And Tomb Raider predates Uncharted by like...ten years!” Yes, there’s Lara Croft, but there’s only Lara Croft. You can’t chuck a controller into the landscape of game protagonists without hitting the perfectly modeled pecs of these generic video game guys, all representing the ultimate male power fantasy, all designed to be ruggedly handsome, all with captivating backstories, all with female love interests falling over themselves to get into bed with them. While gaming has gotten slightly better for women, thanks to the advent of fully customizable characters, there’s still a dearth of female video game protagonists as a whole. Lara Croft shouldn’t be the only woman that people think of when suggesting an adventurous female explorer with a penchant for climbing.
Why Nathan Drake? His backstory. Imagine Natalia Drake, a young, orphaned Latina growing up on the streets of Cartagena, Colombia. She’s convinced that when Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe, he stuck around South America and managed to father some kids, and she’s also convinced that she’s one of their descendants. Natalia’s street smarts capture the attention of African-American Navy vet Victoria Sullivan. Victoria, or Vicky to her friends, decides to become Natalia’s guardian to teach her the ways of fortune-hunting and exploring. Years later, Natalia and Vicky become an unstoppable treasure-hunting team, and this is where the game begins. Players control Natalia as she tracks down clues to the fate of Francis Drake’s lost fortune.
Making Nathan Drake a WOC would fix a number of issues inherent in his backstory. Francis Drake led expeditions in West Africa to kidnap people to sell into slavery. Having his treasure trove reclaimed by two WOC would add a much-needed twist to the narrative. He stole his treasure from the indigenous people he encountered, after all. Plus, I’m really really enamored with older ladies helping younger ladies, like Vicky mentoring Natalia. And finally, as much as I dig the idea that Nathan has daughter who shares his love of history and adventuring, we won’t get a video game starring Cassie Drake anytime soon. I’d much prefer having a character who’s building her own legacy, rather than just living up to the legacy of Nathan Drake.
The Doctor - Lisa Granshaw
The idea of the Doctor on Doctor Who regenerating into a woman has been discussed a lot over the years, and I think it's time for it to finally happen. Not only should the Doctor regenerate into a woman, but a woman of color. There's no reason for this not to happen. We've seen that it's possible before. When the Eleventh Doctor arrives, he thinks for a moment that he might be a woman. In "Hell Bent," the General regenerates from a white man to a woman of color, while in "The Doctor's Wife," the Doctor mentions that the Corsair was at times a man and at times a woman. Regeneration is a way to keep the series alive and fresh even if the person behind the main character leaves. Making the Doctor a woman of color would open the world to many new and exciting stories it has not been able to tell before while keeping the core of what makes the Doctor the Doctor the same as it has throughout all regenerations. Especially after the journey the Doctor has been on recently, I would love to see this change take place at the next regeneration. There are many amazing women who would be perfect for the part so why not give them the chance? The Doctor can always regenerate into a man again, but it doesn't seem right to limit the character's potential to that all the time. After 50 years of white men in the TARDIS, it's time for a change.
King Arthur - Tricia Ennis
The entire sword and sorcery genre owns a lot to the original tales of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Other fantasy tales have offered us their own version of the “chosen one” narrative, and many modern stories have offered female heroes fighting alongside their male counterparts. But for all the derivative work, and all the retellings of the original King Arthur story, no one has tried to recast the main hero as a woman, or in this case, a woman of color. I think 1,000 years is long enough to wait.
This version of the story plays out much like the one we’re used to. The King is dying and in order to find an heir Merlyn has placed the Sword in the Stone in the center of town. When an accident traps Arianna’s brother, she inadvertently pulls the sword from the stone in order to free him. At first, other members of the kingdom refuse to accept her as their new leader, but when she defeats the Black Knight, and is blessed by the Lady of the Lake, they have no choice. Over the course of the story, she faces opposition from the power hungry men - led by Mordred - who seek to “make Camelot great again,” even going so far as to delve into the dark arts to see their vengeance won.
Severus Snape- Rebecca Pahle
Breaking out the big guns here. All respect to the late Alan Rickman — may he glory forever in heaven, sitting on a beach, earning twenty percent — but I need to pop on over to a parallel universe where Severus Snape, Harry Potter anti-hero extraordinaire, is a WOC. (Hermione can be a WOC in this universe, too. The more the merrier.) My reasons are manifold, and they are correct.
One, the obvious: There just isn’t enough diversity in the Harry Potter franchise as-is. There are some scattered non-white supporting characters — Lee Jordan, Dean Thomas, the Patel sisters — but look at the main cast makeup, and you’d think the UK is as white as Voldemort’s hard-boiled egg head. Let’s get some diversity going.
Two: Snape, one of the most psychologically complex characters in the Potter series, is defined in large part by his status as an outsider. Readers spent seven books trying to decide whether he was a good guy or a bad guy. The answer is neither, or both. He was loyal to Dumbledore all along, but for all his good deeds and sacrifices he was still a bitter, hateful ass who clung to grudges and bullied children. He exists in the in-between. He never really belonged in Dumbledore’s Army the way, say, Harry Potter or Sirius Black did. He never really fit in with the Death Eater crowd, either. Aside from the fact that he was a double agent, he was a lower-class half-blood following a demagogue obsessed with making the wizarding world “pure.” If you view Voldemort an an allegory of the sort of leaders who rile up racist, sexist and homophobic sentiments in the real world—and, y’know, it's not a particularly under-the-radar metaphor J.K. Rowling's spinning here — then it adds nuance to Snape’s character to make him him a woman or color. Someone who doesn’t fit into existing power structures. Someone who's overlooked and marginalized. Someone who has to infiltrate the ranks of an organization whose snooty, old-money, privileged (white) members look down on her. Someone who has to present an outward front of believing in those ideas for more than a decade. (What must that to do someone, psychologically?) And, in the end, someone who works from within to bring. that. mother. Down.
And, finally, point the third: Look, I know Snape is a very beloved character, but the dude has some wicked Nice Guy tendencies. The girl you’re in love with falls for the boy who bullies you. That’s rough, buddy. But then, while the bully’s reforming himself and making up for past actions, you decide to turn around and join the wizard Nazis? And Snape wasn’t working for Voldemort at this point, remember — he only switched sides because Voldemort killed Lily. It’s not a good look. Genderswap Snape, and you get rid of some of the troubling “man feels like he’s entitled to a woman’s affections” undertones that make Snape as he is now reflect some truly troubling aspects of rape culture.
Captain America- Cher Martinetti
I appreciate looking at Chris Evans and his bulging biceps as much as the next person. Especially whenever he's missing a shirt. But Captain America's been around a long, long time, and it's a role that Evans will never live long enough to fulfill, no matter how long those Marvel contracts get. No character embodies America more than Captain America, hence the name, natch. Steve Rogers has always been considered the ultimate patriot and defender of American ideology; beliefs that are meant to hold up against the test of time and endless attacks against freedom and democracy. Seeing as Captain America’s a mantle, and one that’s been held by numerous others, there’s no reason why a woman of color shouldn’t be the next Cap and all the reason why she should.
Sure, he looks like the ultimate boyscout. And the whole buring need to fight for freedom and his country is swell, but it’s not really Steve’s monicker, the ever-so-patriotic title of Captain America, or even his unwavering desire to fight Nazis that made him a “true American.” It’s who Steve is at his core, not what physicality he was gifted with by way of the super soldier serum. And a big part of who Steve is has a lot to do with what he is: the first generation son of Irish immigrants. He was born in the 20’s when reports of anti Irish sentiment still existed in the states. He grew up poor, lived in a tenement, and like so many marginalized demographics before and after him, had the most cause to fight for everything America is supposed to stand for. That’s what made Steve Rogers becoming Captain America even more meaningful, and that’s exactly why a woman of color should be next. In fact, I don't just want the next mightiest Avenger to be a woman of color, I want her to be gay. Maybe even an immigrant. In fact, let's make her Muslim, too. Let her represent everyone who's fighting for their civil and human rights while wearing the stars and stripes and fighting evil with Cap's famous shield.