Scene 1 Wed, Feb 14, 2018 5:00 PM
Series Info
Series:Special Event
Film Info
Runtime:54 minutes
with discussion to follow
Director:Jonathan Gayles
Year Released:2012
Production Country:USA


Presented in partnership with the University of Iowa's Afro-American Cultural Center and co-presented by the Bijou Film Board. 
Free for University students with valid ID!

Panel discussion to follow film, featuring UI Department of American Studies Professor Deborah Whaley and UI Cinematic Arts Professor Corey Creekmur.

"Provides a truly provacative contribution to new and ongoing discussions about race, gender, class and sexuality in America."
- Neal A. Lester, Arizona State University

"Provides a wonderful point of entry, the film pushes us beyond simply recounting this undocumented history but simultaneously complicating the many issues that define this history." - David J. Leonard, Washington State University

As a young boy, filmmaker Jonathan Gayles loved comic books and the escape that they provided. However, as a young Black boy, his ability to truly escape was limited by the fact that many of the heroes were white. This documentary critically examines the earliest representations (1965-1977) of Black masculinity in comic books and the troubling influence of race on these representations. Through interviews with prominent artists, scholars and cultural critics along with images from the comic books themselves, it becomes clear that the Black superheroes that did eventually emerge are generally constrained by stereotypical understandings of Black people and Black men in particular. From the humorous, to the offensive, to the tragic, early Black superheroes never strayed too far from common stereotypes about Black men.

The documentary addresses more than forty years of representation of Black men in comic books. The characters included in the documentary are as follows: Lothar (First appearance in 1934), Whitewash Jones (First appearance in 1941), Waku, Prince of the Bantu (First appearance in 1954), Gabriel Jones (First appearance in 1963), The Black Panther (First appearance in 1966), The Falcon (First appearance in 1969), John Stewart (First appearance in 1971), Luke Cage (First appearance in 1972), Tyroc (First appearance in 1976) and Black Lightning (First appearance in 1977).