Of Hancock and Black Superheroes

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Will Smith as Hancock

In anticipation of the screening of "Hancock," Peter Berg's kickass, if tangled, superhero yarn, the conversation behind us was about why, despite Batman and Spider-man and Iron Man, until now there have been no black superheroes on screen. Uncharacteristically, I was too shy to enter the fray. I will now.

In film, there have been a handful of black supers, including Robert Townsend's "Meteor Man" (1993), the inner-city teacher who finds an emerald that makes him invincible, Damon Wayans' "Blankman" (1994), Samuel L. Jackson's Frozone in "The Incredibles" (2004) and Halle Berry's Storm in the "X-Men" franchise. (The charitable might also cite Berry as Catwoman. Call me uncharitable.)

Still, it's fair to say there have been no superstar black supers, (unless you're willing to count the superhuman -- though not superpowered -- Shaft and Superfly, Sweet Sweetback and Sheba, Baby -- blaxploitation stars of early 1970s vintage). This is not for lack of comic-book heroes: During the 1960s there was Black Panther in the Fantastic Four comics, Black Lightning and also The Falcon (a social worker/crimefighter who was, if memory serves, an ally of Captain America). In the 1990s, the supers Icon and Static could be found in the comix bins and more recently the hip-hop Blak of Blokhedz whose rhymes have supernatural effect.

Can you think of other black supers? Who would you like to see as a super on screen?

Do you think Hancock's Eagle insignia is inspired by a certain NFL franchise?