What if…?

The pervasive influence of white bias is felt in all corners of society. From musicians to actors, politicians to police officers, firefighters to lawyers, CEO’s to teachers, there is no area of society free from the bias in favor of white people (and, more specifically, heterosexual, cisgender, white men). As a long-time comic book reader, I was long ignorant of this bias in the comic book industry. Growing up as a teen, and later as a young adult, race was never on my radar. It wasn’t until I began to pay attention to matters of race that I began to see the comic book industry through more enlightened eyes. Once I began to view the world with greater clarity and understanding, I began to see that the comic book industry has long been dominated by white men. And that explains why, for the vast majority of the history of USAmerican comic books, white men have been the primary protagonists, villains, and supporting cast members. The same holds true of the film industry. But what if things were different? What if white men were not the sole (or primary) guiding forces behind movies and comic books all these decades? What if people of color were involved as well? What might the result be?

Alijah Villian is an artist who has tried to imagine just such a world. Using African-American celebrities, he re-imagines protagonists and antagonists from comic books and movies. Take a look:

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What if…?

Denzel Washington wants to be James Bond

I’d watch it.  Washington has some amazing acting chops.  Of course this is likely a pipe dream. I can’t see Hollywood casting a black man in the role of James Bond.  The realization that the US is swimming in structural and institutionalized racism quickly puts a damper on that though.  It should be no problem, as there’s nothing inherent to the concept of James Bond that says he’s got to be a white guy.  In any case, I’d love to see it, if for no other reason than to watch as racist heads across the country exploded.

“The next James Bond? They better hurry up!” He wrote, replying to one fan’s question, and suggested everybody tweet “Denzel is James Bond!”

“We start the Denzel is Bond campaign today!” he said. “James Washington. Denzel Bond!” Fans immediately started talking about it, using the Twitter hashtag #DenzelIsJamesBond.

Among other things, the Training Day actor was asked why he has never hosted Saturday Night Live, to which he responded: “That’s a good question! I need to do that!”

“Call NBC and tell them Denzel needs to host!” he added.

Even with thousands of people toying with the idea of having a black actor play the intelligence agent, the term “Black Bond” doesn’t sit with many, including The Wire actor Idris Elba, who is also considered by many as a great bet for the role.

During an appearance on ITV’s Lorraine last January, Elba revealed his extreme dislike towards the popular phrase, saying that he doesn’t understand the phrase.

“We don’t say ‘White Bond’, we just say ‘Bond’,” he quips. “So it suddenly becomes a black man and he’s a ‘Black Bond.’”

Denzel Washington wants to be James Bond