Perhaps best known for being hit-and-miss when it comes to its superhero comic book adaptations, Warner Bros has recently taken steps towards rectifying their reputation. Successes like Wonder Woman and Shazam! have helped, as have their foray into more serious comic book adaptations like the upcoming The Batman.
Now, Warner Bros announced that they have won the rights to the adaptation of the comic Black for the big screen. A gut-punch of a series, Black is the exact kind of work that is deserving of the cinematic, Hollywood treatment — done right, of course.
With Warner Bros on board, a bigger, broader audience is almost certain, as well are its franchise possibilities. This is certainly news worth celebrating, as Black is a comic well suited for the big screen for many reasons.
Black was created by Kwanza Osajyefo and Tim Smith 3 who, as Osajyefo put it in a statement, were inspired by "experiencing the lack of representation in comics publishing and how that directly relates to the scarceness of black characters.
"For most of comics' history, white outcasts have been used as allegories for marginalised groups while claiming to reflect the world outside our window. BLACK strips away this veneer to juxtapose superpowers with race while allowing black people to see ourselves authentically in media and inviting wider audiences into parts of our experience."
The comic takes place in a world in which only Black people have superpowers. The protagonist is a teenager named Kareem Jenkins who, during a police shooting, is shot. He survives and afterwards discovers that he has superpowers.
What's more, he isn't alone; Kareem is just one of many Black men and women who have innate superhero powers. But this is kept hidden by a deep, dark, far-reaching conspiracy.
Black has seven main issues, but also has its own comic book universe. The universe features artists like Jamal Igle, Khary Randolph, Jennifer Johnson, Vita Ayala and Liana Kangas.
Studio 8 (best known for White Boy Rick) began development of the comic with an eye towards expanding it into a franchise a year ago. Its CEO Jeff Robinov said: "Black represents a new generation of storytellers and creators who can accurately tell Black stories with the type of care the industry has lacked for decades.
"The thought-provoking concept caught our attention early on, and we’re proud to play a role in bringing this story to the screen."
The screen adaptation has been written by Titans (a DC Comics' adaptation) producer Bryan Edward Hill, and the movie's producers include Jeff Robinov, Guy Danella and John Graham, and Matteo Pizzolo and Brett Gurewitz.
Pizzolo and Gurewitz are the founders of the publishing house Black Mask Studios, created in the wake of 2011's Occupy Wall Street protests and designed as a new infrastructure to support comic book creators and a new pipeline for transgressive art. They will executive produce with Black's creators Osajyefo and Smith co-producing.
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