At San Diego Comic-Con International this past weekend, DC Universe unveiled the first full trailer for their flagship series Titans, based on the Teen Titans series of comic books. While the majority of discussion revolved around the violence and profanity in the trailer, it also reignited racist conversations about the character Starfire, as played by Anna Diop.
Diop has been encountering these comments since the moment she was cast as the alien hero Koriand’r who, in the comics, is traditionally orange. Those comments reached a fever pitch when paparazzi photos from the Titans set began circulating online, leading Diop to comment publicly. Fans were disappointed with the costume and character design, despite the fact that this first look wasn’t one of the character in her finished form.
Now, with the trailer finally revealed, the comments have continued. Many fans are upset at the change to the character’s race and are making those opinions very well known on social media. Diop, meanwhile, has disabled comments on nearly all of her Instagram posts. It hasn’t been confirmed that she did this to avoid those comments, but a quick look at the comments on the single enabled post prove that it might be the only defense she has. While the post itself is about her recent casting in Jordan Peele’s Us, nearly every comment references her role as Starfire and many feature fans disappointment in her casting and appearance. Several even ask her to quit the show.
The Root has also pointed out that many comments are also colorist, instead of racist, as fans have pointed out that for them, it’s not that Starfire is Black, just that she isn’t the right kind of Black.
Racist reactions to the casting of people of color in traditionally white roles is not new, nor is it likely to stop any time soon. Consider, for example, the casting of Michael B. Jordan in Fantastic Four or John Boyega in Star Wars. These casting decisions, though, do serve as a way for a traditionally underserved demographic to see themselves represented in a medium (comics) that has largely and historically been dominated by white faces.