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Marvel Late to the Black Superhero Party

Updated on October 31, 2014

Black Panther Movie! Cool!

Black Panther the First BSH???  NOT!
Black Panther the First BSH??? NOT! | Source

Tomb of Dracula #10

Tomb of Dracula #10 the first appearance of Blade!
Tomb of Dracula #10 the first appearance of Blade! | Source

Been There, Done That, But NOT the First!

OK now, so it hasn't been stated directly, but the "impression" from all of the hype for Marvel's up and coming Black Panther movie is that it will be the "First" Black Superhero (BSH) comic book movie. Don't get me wrong, this is a Really great thing. Not so much the "first" part, but the fact that Marvel is upping the status of one of it's fabulous lesser known characters of the Marvel universe. This movie-goer is personally ecstatic to not have to start through the "primary" Marvel characters like Spiderman and the X-men, again and again.... Infinitum... But enough of that.

The fact is that the first Black Superhero from the comic books to hit the silver screen from Marvel was Blade, starring Wesley Snipes. Later to become a trilogy of movies solidifying the character in the history of BSH movie characters. And while this wasn't necessarily a "men in tights" type of superhero movie, it is superhero none-the-less. BTW Blade had his first appearance in the Marvel comic Tomb of Dracula #10 back in 1972. So kudos to Marvel for being an innovator in the newsprint pages as well.

But is Blade the first Black Superhero Movie.... NOT!

Blade was released August 21, 1998

Already been there with Blade...

Blade, Marvel's First BSH Movie!
Blade, Marvel's First BSH Movie! | Source

DC's Steel? Huh?

Could Steel be the first??
Could Steel be the first?? | Source

Steel, the First DC BSH!

So in the world of DC's not so fabulous comic book to movie adaptations... Well I guess we can barely say "adaptation" since the story line is only loosely based on the comic books. And I mean really loose. No cape? Superwho?

I guess if one can mute memories of awesome comic book stories then this movie could be good, but whatever. I can do that so I don't mind. And who doesn't like a Shaq movie? Always fun to have a Shaq attack...

A friend of mine at work reminded me that as comic book fans we really should feel fortunate that "any" movie ever gets created about our favorite characters. Good or bad, attention is good. There's always a "re-boot" around the corner.

So Steel is the First Black Superhero Movie that DC has made, but is it the first BSH movie????

A resounding NOT!!!

Steel was released August 15, 1997.

So WHO then was the first Black Superhero to grace the silver screen???

The FIRST Black Superhero Movie... SPAWN!

Spawn was FIRST!
Spawn was FIRST! | Source

Not Marvel, Not DC, IMAGE!

NOW we have finally arrived! Yes SPAWN was the FIRST! IMAGE WINS!!!

Yup, the little indy that could, Image Comics was the FIRST to produce a Black Superhero movie! And I have to say, considering the time it was created, Spawn was a fabulous show. The best part was that the movie didn't leave it's faithful readers in the dust saying "what the..." Not that the plot followed comic story line faithfully, but the directors at least paid some attention to the source, creator Todd McFarlane was the screen writer for his own creation. Very cool.

Spawn was released August 1, 1997, beating Steel by a mere 14 days...

Michael Jai White starred in this movie which was excellent in spite of what the critics balked about. Seeing a real comic creation going into the movies is very cool.

And the best part? Little indy Image Comics takes down Marvel and DC to become the FIRST publisher to make a Black Superhero Movie!

Special Thanks to my good buddy Michael Sacal of Heroic Tendencies Comics for inspiring this little ditty. He's the one that posed the question causing me to ponder this topic...

Speaking of which, PLEASE support your favorite INDY comic creators! Check out great publishers like Red Leaf Comics, Heroic Tendencies, Digital Manga Inc (DMI) and CE Publishing Group! Discover the next Spawn in your life!

SPAWN Trailer

SPAWN is #1!

BSH Movie
Release Date
August 1, 1997
Michael Jai White
August 15, 1997
Shaquille O'Neal
August 21, 1998
Wesley Snipes


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    • CEPubdude profile imageAUTHOR

      Michael Rickaby 

      4 years ago from Centennial, Colorado

      Hello Stevennix,

      Thanks so much for the comments. We had this discussion about Meteor Man last night on Facebook and I'd have to respectfully disagree. Meteor Man was a superhero made for a movie and not a Comic book superhero adapted to a movie. So nix on the Meteor Man (pun intended).

      As to whether Blade was a superhero or not... Just look at Tomb of Dracula #10, knee high boots, a colored sash of throwing knives, cool green glasses, and slaying bad vampires for the sake of innocent victims? I'd say definitely a superhero. And Buffy and Van Helsing would definitely fit that mold. Also, back in 1972 I'm fairly sure that they were not planning to use Blade in a movie sometime 25 years in the future...

      But then again, my classification of a superhero is likely broader than yours. I feel that anybody with or without a uniform and cape who steps up to face evil and protect anyone would be considered a superhero.

      For instance our brave men and women who serve in the armed forces are all superhero's to the nth degree in my opinion. They wear uniforms and are far braver in real life than anything I've ever read in comic books.

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 

      4 years ago

      Actually, "Meteor Man" was the first black superhero on the big screen, as his film came out on August 6, 1993, so that predates all the superhero films you listed here.

      As for Blade, I don't really consider him a superhero at all per say, as he's more of a vampire hunter that happens to exist in the same world with other superheroes like Spider-man and etc in comics. In the blade movies, there's no mention of any kind of expanded universe, or any hint that other superheroes like iron man, thor and etc exist. Therefore, his movies were vampire stories if anything else.

      He's no more of a superhero than Buffy the Vampire Slayer is. The only reason why people consider Blade a superhero is really because he was created as a marvel comics character. However, i still say if the comics never existed to begin with, and Blade was an original character created specifically for the big screen, then I don't think anyone would say he's a superhero. People just say he is because the comic book exists, and his character happens to be in the marvel universe.

      Don't get me wrong, I love Blade as a character, as I grew up on the whole "Midnight Sons" stuff from marvel. However, I still say he's not a superhero because if Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Van Helsing aren't superheroes, then why should Blade? However, everyone is entitled to their own opinions. Interesting hub though.


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