Warner Bros.' Superman movie reboot will feature a black version of the Superman character, in a story written by acclaimed author and Eisner Award-winning comic book writer Ta-Nehisi Coates (Black Panther: World of Wakanda, Captain America). However, the details of how WB and producer J.J. Abrams would re-imagine the Superman mythos for a person of color have been pretty vague - but a new report about the project may shine a light on some key details. First of all, it appears this new Superman movie is being angled as its own standalone universe within the expanding DC Multiverse, one that retells that classic Superman origin story.
As THR reports:
The Superman film appears to be moving onto its own track and won’t be part of the universe, as of now. Sources tell THR that Coates is crafting a Kal-El in the vein of the original Superman comics and will have the protagonist hail from Krypton and come to Earth. While the story is currently being crafted and many details could change, one option under consideration is for the film to be a 20th century period piece.
So far, a lot of the debate around this new Black Superman film has been held at bay, until the actual facts of the story and character are confirmed. Changing the races of popular comic book characters has become a cultural lightning rod as superheroes (and their supporting casts) have risen to become blockbuster movie stars, but Superman is a character who has been rebooted as a black man on the comic book page, so there is precedent here.
DC Comics fans have been largely supportive of the idea of the Calvin Ellis version of "President Superman" (created and molded after President Barack Obama) being adapted to film. Calvin Ellis' Kryptonian name was "Kalel" and his origin largely the same as the original version of Superman - save that Kalel landed on Earth and was adopted by a poor black family, thereby giving him a distinctly different world view and mission as Superman. He not only served as a costumed hero but tried to help oppressed people in his civilian guise as a politician, eventually becoming president.
So far, there's nothing in the description of Coates's Superman story that would prohibit some or all of Calvin Ellis's Superman from being used for the film. The 20th-century setting is a bit more curious - but understandable. Seeing where a black Superman stood in relation to pivotal events (WWII, the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam, the Regan era, and '70s/80s drug war in urban America) would provide deeper and more serious context about what Superman can/cannot do to "save the world." It would also be right in the vein of Coates' powerful telescopic view of American society and race.
Ta-Nehisi Coates will reportedly deliver his Superman movie script by mid-December, so it may be a while before official details are set in place. Warner Bros. is reportedly looking at a list of black directors for the Superman reboot.