Heroes of color have a long and controversial history — but they paved the way for the rise of the black superhero. Unfortunately, there is an ugly part of superhero history that did employ some gross stereotypes.
Black Panther may be the first black “superhero” but the first black people to appear in comics were technically the characters in the “All-Negro Comics.” Actually, every creative that worked on that comic was black, the project was ahead of its time.
Marvel later tried to publish a few comics with Black leads but they didn’t sell. Marvel’s first Black character to get his own book was Luke Cage, but DC didn’t debut one until 1971 one with everyone’s favorite Green Lantern. Black Lightning was the first original black DC character and he’s actually getting his own CW show.
Wesley Snipes tried to get a Black Panther movie off the ground but it never happened. He did, however star in Blade Runner in 1998. The movie was very cool and Snipes was “unapologetically black.” In recent years, black actors have taken on a lot of supporting roles, but Black Panther is the first movie to put characters of color front and center. And considering how well it’s already doing at the box office, maybe this will become a new trend.