Michelle Rodriguez has interesting thoughts on minorities in superhero roles

Michelle Rodriguez

I’ve always enjoyed Michelle Rodriguez on camera. She kicks some serious butt in most of her movie roles. In real life, Michelle’s a hot, party-girl mess, and I still don’t understand the Zac Efron thing. Sometimes some weird stuff comes out of her mouth, which is what happened here. Some rumors started circulating about Michelle starring in a Green Lantern role, although god knows why they’d want to make a sequel.

TMZ caught up with Michelle on Friday night and asked about the casting rumor. In TMZ’s video, Michelle laughs and says, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard … Like, stop stealing, you know, all the white people’s superheroes. Like, make up your own. Know what I’m saying, like what’s up with that?” TMZ implies that Michelle was referring to Samuel L. Jackson playing Nick Fury. Yeah, she probably was shading Sam, which bugs. He plays the Ultimate Nick Fury, a character who was designed with Sam Jackson in mind! His race shouldn’t matter anyway. Just like it doesn’t matter that Jason Momoa is playing Aquaman.

Michelle felt the backlash and recorded a video she posted to her Facebook page (with her cat in the background). I don’t think she improved upon the situation:

I want to clarify about my comment yesterday. I stuck my foot in my mouth once again, and I said that people should stop trying to steal white people superheroes. I guess it got taken out of context because a lot of people got offended … but I have a tendency to speak without a filter, so sorry about that. What I really meant was, ultimately at the end of the day there’s a language. And the language that you speak in Hollywood is successful franchise. And I think that there are many cultures in Hollywood that are not white that can come up with their own mythology … I’m just saying that instead of trying to turn a girl character into a guy or instead of trying to turn a white character into a black character or Latin character, I think that people should stop being lazy, and that people should actually make an effort in Hollywood to develop their own mythology.

[From Facebook]

Michelle’s lack of comic book knowledge doesn’t help matters. There are thousands of Green Lanterns in the comic books, not just the Hal Jordan character played by Ryan Reynolds. Some of them are men, some are women, and plenty of them are not white.

Putting that point aside, Michelle believes that placing minorities into roles that were written as “white” is intellectually lazy. Yes, it would be amazing if Hollywood would adapt tales of mythological figures from non-Eurocentric cultures. As the Daily Beast suggests, “There are tons of mythological figures in the African diaspora and across indigenous American cultures and Asian cultures that could be explored via major Hollywood productions.” Agreed. But I don’t see how it’s a bad thing when the best actor for a job captures a role, and those decisions shouldn’t be dependent upon race.

Michelle Rodriguez

Michelle Rodriguez

Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet & WENN

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36 Responses to “Michelle Rodriguez has interesting thoughts on minorities in superhero roles”

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  1. Amy says:

    Tbh she’s an example of why I hardly get mad at ignorant comments anymore. Like when someone has that profound a LACK of knowledge on what they’re saying? Sure. She can believe whatever she wants with all the books she’s never cracked open and all the subjects she’s oblivious to. Her opinion really matters.

    • CB says:

      Most of the people discussing this don’t actually read comic books. I have a closet full of them. What she’s saying makes perfect sense. What is wrong with creating your own character? If Latinos and gays become interested in comics at the rate of white male and females (its cultural in the same way that rap was) then there will be a bunch of black, gay, and latino writers break through the way that white rappers and girl rappers broke into rap by their interest at a grass roots level, not top down force.

      Everyone brings up the Green Lantern because it is the easiest to Google and that it is a role that people take on, unlike Superman or Wolverine. They’ll talk about him like they are experts on comics and they are not.

      Most comic collectors also are either/or. You’re DC or Marvel. Those who barely read comics talk DC since they hit movies and TV first. People forget that Marvel, for example, has had gay, latino, and black superheroes for years and unlike DC and “Wonder Woman”, Marvel has had a plethora of female characters since the early 60′s so it doesn’t have to retrofit its franchise. Scarlet Witch, Kitty Pride, Jean Grey, Storm, Marvel Girl and as for blacks they had Falcon, Black Panther, etc.

      Marvel also had Northstar the first openly gay superhero before it was even a push from the top to make that happen.

      So …yeh. Make Mine Marvel!

      • Amy says:

        The part of her statement I’m focusing on is not the comics but why it’s illogical for her to try and say, “Just make some minority super heroes!” when even introducing them as side characters in established media brings out racist responses. When smaller comic brands that did prominently feature minority characters were bought out and white-washed. When rules were handed down that made comics less women friendly and shuttered promising characters who didn’t fit the mold. A history book would have put the answers in her head to keep her from displaying, even more apparently, how clueless she is.

        Im a lazy comic book collector who holds up the old school Bruce Timm cartoons as amazing, thinks DC movies have sucked so far, and admits Marvel gets it. I think when it comes to characters held up as ideals in society no one gets to say, “You can’t want to be that person, you’re…”. Superman’s motto is all about being a good person, not a white person. People love certain heroes or villains because of their complexity and personality, not because of their lily white skin. So to me it seems foolhardy to say, “Yeah yeah he’s from Krypton or been bitten by a radioactive spider but focus on the important part…he’s white dude. White.” Skin tone isn’t the important part of the story.

        If a little Latina girl sees something of beauty in Wonder Woman (and why wouldn’t she considering Diana’s introduction to the world and adjustment to society that runs counter to everything she knows) then I’d consider it a failing of society to pluck the book from her hands and tell her to wait for a Latina superhero…eventually.

        That being said I agree with you that the other current major brand did do well to strive for diversity early on, but sadly that accounts for a very small percentage of all the different characters and comics that have occurred through the years.

  2. MonicaQ says:

    She plays the same character in every movie, even the F&F series which is a guilty pleasure.

    I’m not even a DC fan and the first Green Lantern I ever knew was black, wth.

  3. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    Ugh.

  4. Renee says:

    Sure,

    Everyone should show some initiative and pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Except that if it were that easy everyone would have their own production companies and be writing, funding and producing their own stories to untold success. I mean, look at how successful, powerful, popular and wealthy Angelina Jolie is and she was still at the mercy of studios and producers such as Scott Rudin when she wanted to direct films/launch certain projects. Can you imagine what it would be like for someone who is of color trying to get a project off of the ground? Especially when so many in power are dismissive and disinterested in projects by actors of color. Television has shown itself to be much more invested in diversity but the film world doesn’t seem to be.

  5. Mia4S says:

    You don’t understand the Zac Efron thing?…Really?….Well…no I’ll be nice.

  6. Anna says:

    Michelle’s been making ignorant comments for years. I stopped supporting/liking her a few years ago when she was talking about Nicole Kidman in Paper Boy:
    “I fu*king loved it,” Rodriguez enthused. “One of my friends said, ‘She’s going to get nominated for an Oscar for that.’ I was like, ‘Nah, man. She’s not black!’ I laugh, but it’s also very sad. It makes me want to cry. But I really believe. You have to be trashy and black to get nominated. You can’t just be trashy.”

    I used to really like her, but she’s such a disappointment.

    • QQ says:

      THANK YOU! there is a reason why I don’t even bother with this angry drunk.. is because on top of the Angry drunkness, she is also pretty stupid and super one note as an actor on top of it all

      • Erinn says:

        The unapologetic REPEATED drunk driving – the domestic abuse. I actually can’t stand her. She’s a one note actress playing the same roles, doing the same stupid shit over and over again. I just can’t look at her and find much redeeming. And you’re right QQ – she can look pretty (eg white dress). But most of the time, even when she’s done up, I see sloppy.

      • JenniferJustice says:

        Agreed. She is a “flat” actress and she always looks like she needs a good scrubbing.

  7. Kiddo says:

    Completely shallow observation, but in the jump, I thought Britney Spears dyed her hair dark black and was looking pretty good.

  8. AlmondJoy says:

    This is not the first time she’s said something like this. No surprises here.

  9. Victoria1 says:

    I want to know her fitness regimen, girl parties hard but has an awesome athletic body

  10. Veritas says:

    I guess she’s never heard of spawn. He’s black. Or storm from xmen. Green arrows sidekick too. And marvel has a bunch of black comic characters too. But that’s not enough we need more heroes of all races.

  11. Kori says:

    I get what she’s saying to an extent. I’m waiting to see how the Kate Mara/Michael Jordan as sibs works in the new Fantastic Four. But some characters, as noted, have a variety of races and genders play different versions. And I don’t think it’s an issue if you cast awesome Samuel L Jackson in a historically white role. But I get that she’s trying to perhaps make a point about introducing some NEW characters that are minorities. My daughter is a HUGE comic book nerd and her Facebook feed is often filled with ruminating a on the lack of diversity in the comic book world overall, though they’re making progress. She applauds when they introduce new characters (or new versions of older characters) who are female/gay/black/Hispanic/Asian. (Feminist action heroes as both characters and how’re they’re drawn are big topics with her) So perhaps, to give MR the benefit of the doubt, she was inarticulately trying to make a similar point? Or she’s just an idiot. One or the other.

  12. Ari says:

    If she was even going to be a GL character it would be power ring and it would be Jessica cruz who is canonically A MINORITY so she should probably have kept her mouth shut >_> and i agree with everyones stance on this who posted!

  13. Alexis says:

    SMH.

  14. INeedANap says:

    Hollywood has a tendency to cast white people in rules that should go to other ethnicities and races. Why not do the reverse?

  15. Mzizkrizten says:

    I feel like the term minority is outdated.

    • truthSF says:

      Right there with you on that minority B.S.

    • Renee says:

      …and I am here with you both. There are been plenty of other terms that have been introduced into popular lexicons that could be employed…people of color, racialized people, people who have been marginalized…

      • Mzizkrizten says:

        I don’t like ‘racialized’ either. Like race has been implemented upon a person LOL.

      • Renee says:

        Uh-oh, we’re disagreeing, lol!!!

        Your explanation/understanding is pretty much spot on, I believe that the term was coined to illustrate how some people are considered to be of color while whiteness is seen as being neutral…and it’s reference that exact act, that gesture of (violence) bestowing race onto specific individuals and all of the baggage that comes along with those designations. So I am okay with that.

  16. Josefa says:

    I get what she’s saying, but superheroes aren’t historical figures or anything. It’s not like Spiderman would make less sense as a superhero if Peter Parker was black.

    Anyway, while it would be cool to see major productions exploring other cultures (and actually exploring and understanding them), I think it goes further than that. When people complain about there not being enough roles written for minorities, I get and share their anger, but that’s not what I want. Because in Hollywood terms, that would just translate to having more black thugs, more nerdy and awkward asians, more spicy and sassy latinas, etc. And we don’t need more of that. I want the race-blind characters to be played by more PoC. Let’s have more black doctors, let’s have an asian be in a comedy stitch without his penis size being the butt of the joke.

    I hope I’m explaining myself well here.

    • truthSF says:

      +100000

    • CB says:

      You’re misunderstanding her. Why can’t gays, blacks, women, Asians, and Latinos if they are SO interested in comics to begin with write their own awesome characters?

      IF minorities were more into comics then say white males and white females why aren’t they creating characters that are just as awesome as Batman?

      It’s like rap. Rap music was culturally a black phenomenon for a long time, then you had a few white males try to break in like Vanilla Ice and Everlast and finally when it was larger in the white community you have an Eminem, an authentic white rapper.

      It came organically. When it didn’t happen from the bottom, from the grassroots it just didn’t stick. It felt like merchandise. Comics are white male nerd culture and while that is changing a real non-cultural appropriation happens from the writers and fans, not from studio execs packaging and forcing.

      So no Spiderman doesn’t have to be white, but he is. If you want a black or latino or Asian (people forget about them) that is as fabulous as Spiderman write his/her story.

      • Amy says:

        Except there is a non-black Spider-Man currently in lead of his own series and being considered for a role in the next movie.

        Also I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt above but I’ll be honest, your examples make no sense.

        Rapper is a career field, there is no way for a white rapper to attach himself or herself to a previous rapper’s identity. However comics are fluid by nature. Back stories change, relationships change, histories change, all sorts of exploration and experimentation happens and is accepted but the one thing that makes you uncomfortable is race?

        So an alternate reality where Martha Wayne becomes the Joker is cool, but if Bruce was black then some sacred error has occurred? Right, sure.

      • Josefa says:

        What Amy said.

        Oh, and asians have been writing their own comics for years, it’s called manga, and it’s arguably a MUCH bigger industry than their American counterpart.

    • Veronica says:

      I think she was trying to say something along those lines, too – that white cultural narratives shouldn’t be the only definition of heroic. This being said, the last thing Hollywood needs to do is appropriate more cultural dialogue to insult everyone with. Maybe if and when Hollywood isn’t a giant white boys club, it’ll be less of an issue.

  17. The Other Maria says:

    Uh, comic stories aren’t mythology for one, secondly how many ethnic roles have gone to whites? Thirdly, WE don’t need to create our own stories as we already have them, Hollywood just doesn’t care to produce them.

    Ugh.

    • Amy says:

      This. Stories are created everyday that get little to no promotion because the agent “Doesn’t see myself in this work”. That are not widely circulated or given the same level of respect.

      She essentially wants to pretend everything in society that holds people back doesn’t exist and it’s just laziness that’s kept superheroes of other races from emerging. Is it laziness that’s kept Latina women from seeing themselves in non-stereotypical roles? Or that’s reduced them to a short career of ‘the hot one’ before trying to make them into a maid?

  18. Fatty Magoo says:

    I agree with her. I’m a Latina who loves comics. I really hate when iconic characters are changed. It bugs the crap out of me because the character has looked a certain way for so long that it’s almost like remake of something. Even James bond being blond annoys the heck out of me. But I’m sure people are going jump down my throat for this.

  19. Spike says:

    Comic/superhero readers are a very diverse audience. I’ve had students talk/write about. We have long discussions with all kinds of folks at our neighborhood convenience store.

    The industry still does not take their women readers seriously. Their is a sexist disconnect. Writers are much more progessive, but their editors are not.

    Bat Woman is a lesbian. She was in a long-term committed relationship with another women. They planned an entire storyline about them getting married. Instead they were being forced to kill off the girlfriend. The entire respected creative team all quit. I believe the storyline was enacted.

    Another example of disrespect has been Comic Con in San Diego, the top gathering in the country. Booth girls & women attending have endured sexual comments, groping & worst. Women’s groups took a strong stand against it, as well as men’s groups & creators & writers of comics. Other prominent cons have very strict no touch policies which are strictly endorsed. The top dog was dismissive.

    MR is also disrespected in the gay community. When a question came up about her sexuality, Instead of dismissive, she went on nasty rant about the lesbian community. She called them dykes & continued with extremely disparaging comments.

    Michelle, you are an idiot. You need to go away now.

  20. Sara says:

    I am so sick and tired of comic hero movies that I could barf. Thank god for Starz new series The White Queen, what a great story. Just what I needed…