Warner’s DC Extended Universe films continues navigating an unconventional era, having premiered Wonder Woman 1984 as a day-and-date HBO Max streaming exclusive (until Jan. 24) in lieu of a prospectively profitable wide theatrical release. However, a grandiose return to theaters is eyed to start in 2022 with a barrage of DCEU movies, which will eventually yield the Dwayne Johnson-starring Black Adam. Auspiciously, that film will also debut the DCEU’s version of winged hero Hawkman, as played by Aldis Hodge, who comes into the role with extensive comic book research and the weight of being a black superhero on the big screen.
For the acclaimed actor, Hodge, whose casting as Hawkman was reported this past September, the role will finally yield a long-sought chance to play a major superhero, and he’s clearly excited to rock the signature wings. Yet, while Hodge has been showing visceral joy over this appearance for director Jaume Collet-Serra’s cold-intro Shazam spinoff, Black Adam, his awareness of the ongoing responsibility that a black actor must bear when fielding such a culturally influential role is made quite clear in an interview with Geeks of Color.
“I think about the representation aspect of that, because I didn’t grow up watching superheroes that look like me.” He explains, “I remember in my early-teens maybe we came into [African-American heroes] Spawn and Blade, and that was awesome. So, to know that young kids are going to be able to see that and see opportunity, and have an awareness that I didn’t have at a young age about what they can accomplish, that really is fantastic.”
The topic of representation has obviously been prevalent in the widespread comic book movie conversation for some time now, and Hodge is certainly not saying anything out of left field regarding the responsibilities attached to his Hawkman role. Yet, it comes in the aftermath of what was arguably the most poignant representation character, Marvel’s Black Panther, as played by the late, great Chadwick Boseman. After a debut in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, the character’s solo debut in director Ryan Coogler’s 2018 Black Panther movie became a global cultural milestone. Besides being a $1.347 billion worldwide smash, the film redefined the uplifting representation of black actors; an accomplishment attributed not only to Boseman’s performance, but supporting players like Letitia Wright’s Shuri, Danai Gurira’s Okoye, Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia and, of course, Michael B. Jordan’s portrayal of tragic villain Killmonger.