It's bad enough that in recent years we've had Emma Stone and Scarlett Johansson playing Asian women in films like Aloha and Ghost in the Shell, respectively--to widespread outcry.
But now, it seems, the people who make our entertainment can't even properly cast characters of color even when they're animated.
Case in point: the upcoming version of the role-playing game Marvel Future Fight, in which the Black African superhero Storm looks not so much Black as, well... an extremely tan version of White South African actress Charlize Theron.
When they said Storm was an African superhero, they didn't mean Charlize Theron. https://t.co/YrZHRUatHk— Sailor ConStar 🌙 (@Sailor ConStar 🌙)1598965725.0
Storm, or Ororo Munroe as she is also known in the Marvel Universe, is an African mutant who, as her name suggests, has the power to control the weather.
"Storm is the descendant of an ancient line of African priestesses all of whom have white hair, blue eyes, and the potential to wield magic. Her mother, N'Dare, was the princess of a tribe in Kenya. She married the American photojournalist David Munroe and moved with him to Manhattan, where Ororo was born."
Mutated blue eyes aside, a woman born of a Kenyan princess and a Black photojournalist doesn't exactly scream "Charlize Theron," does it?
Storm has served as Queen of Wakanda, for heaven's sake!
So what exactly is going on here? Nobody knows as yet, but the image released by Marvel drew plenty of ire from fans, especially given previous portrayals of Storm in film by light-complected Black actresses like Halle Berry and Alexandra Shipp, which some Black fans have seen as efforts by film studios to make the Black character more palatable for White audiences.
As The Root's Tonja Renée Stidhum explains:
"...I am a huge fan of Halle Berry, but color (heh) me surprised when I realized she was cast as the powerful princess. That same light-skinned energy carried over into the film franchise's prequel series when Alexandria Shipp was cast."
Stidhum goes on to explain that within much of Marvel's Black fandom, the desire for a dark-complected portrayal of Storm is at an all-time high.
"Now more than ever, the desire for a dark-skinned Storm (finally!) in a major film or live-action television series is brolic. Names such as Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You), Dominique Jackson (Pose), Teyonah Parris (Candyman) and Yetide Badaki (American Gods) have entered the fan cast conversation..."
So perhaps unsurprisingly, the Twitter reception of this new iteration was about as icy as Storm's snow-white mohawk--so much so that Charlize Theron's name began to trend.
Saw Charlize Theron trending and what yall not going to do is white wash Storm and change her into snowstorm 😒 https://t.co/kSwUemnH5J— geddaqueen (@geddaqueen)1598977134.0
@stormbrasil1 Why is Storm: the Beautiful Windrider, the Mistress of the Elements, the Queen of Wakanda, The Goddes… https://t.co/j1Mh28fsV5— Grodd (@Grodd)1598935626.0
@stormbrasil1 i know charlize theron when i see her https://t.co/j0kI4Q5MrX— The Chickenista (@The Chickenista)1598969576.0
@stormbrasil1 https://t.co/u80pSQ1fhz— Trishh | Chaotic Bi Energy | Makes (@Trishh | Chaotic Bi Energy | Makes)1598963415.0
Bruh, the really photoshopped Charlize Theron as Storm....... https://t.co/Vac0wal1qA— For your inconsideration and inconvenience... (@For your inconsideration and inconvenience...)1598975969.0
@ConStar24 For those in the back. STORM 👏 NEEDS 👏TO BE 👏DARK-SKINNED👏 https://t.co/I1eetXqPpg— Maurice Mitchell (@Maurice Mitchell)1598982392.0
@ConStar24 I bet if someone searches long enough they can find the reference photo they used of either Charlize or.… https://t.co/JYbpeiCGAY— Jordan K. Paul (@Jordan K. Paul)1598976335.0
@stormbrasil1 Uhhh... that ain’t Storm... that’s Light Rain...— byeD (@byeD)1598969599.0
@stormbrasil1 Cool, where is she, behind the white girl?— Mary Sue, M.Ed. (@Mary Sue, M.Ed.)1598933111.0
@stormbrasil1 Anyway here’s an actual BLACK woman 😒 https://t.co/OBAfAUr7dn— FKA peachmelk (@FKA peachmelk)1598979895.0
Neither Marvel nor the makers of the video game have commented on the controversy as of this writing.