Behind Warner Bros.’ Search for a Black Superman

Well, this could be interesting, but I know some people are about to lose their minds. At least the story will be different! ~ V


After enlisting Ta-Nehisi Coates to write the latest feature on the superhero, the studio is searching for its director and star as it kick-starts the next phase of its DC universe.

While promoting his Amazon Prime film Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse in late April, Michael B. Jordan put a Kryptonite pin in any rumors that he might suit up as Warner Bros.’ next Superman. “I’m flattered that people have me in that conversation,” Jordan told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s definitely a compliment, but I’m just watching on this one.”

With that, a whole new guessing game has kicked off centered on who will play the Man of Steel. And arguably more pressing: Who will direct? Sources say J.J. Abrams, who is producing the film, is not among the many possibilities being considered.

When Warners announced in February that celebrated author Ta-Nehisi Coates is writing the screenplay and Abrams is producing, it did not address the matter of helming. But insiders say Warners and DC are committed to hiring a Black director to tackle what will be the first cinematic incarnation of Superman featuring a Black actor, with one source adding that putting Abrams at the helm would be “tone-deaf.” [Well, h-e-l-l-o. ~V]

In a fitting twist, the director search is pitting DC against none other than Marvel. As Warners looks to fill its Superman vacancy, Marvel is on the hunt for a Blade helmer and is combing through the same list. But the question will come down to what kind of filmmaker Bad Robot and Warners want: an up-and-comer who can be backed by Abrams, who knows his way around tentpoles and franchises? Or an established filmmaker like a Barry Jenkins or a Ryan Coogler?

The former list can include Creed II’s Steven Caple Jr., J.D. Dillard, Regina King — who got raves for her drama One Night in Miami — and Shaka King, who is popular at Warners thanks to best picture Oscar nominee Judas and the Black Messiah.

Some potential directors have met with both studios for both films, even as one agent said the process was “phenomenally early.” Meanwhile, Coogler may be a nonstarter for either assignment given that he will be occupied with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which releases July 8, 2022.

Coates isn’t expected to deliver his Superman script until mid-December. Likewise, Marvel isn’t rushing with Blade, whose start date was pushed from this September to July 2022, so that the studio can spend time working on the Stacy Osei-Kuffour-penned script.

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