6 Black TV Superheroes Reflect on Representation, Their Personal Heroes and Saving the World

Watch: "Batwoman" Cast Shares Their First Impression of Javicia Leslie

It's a good time to be a superhero, especially on TV. 

Between WandaVision, Batwoman, Black Lightning, The Flash, Supergirl, Stargirl, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Doom Patrol, Titans, Superman & Lois, Watchmen, and even The Boys, there's something for everybody—an ever-growing rainbow of role models, anti-role models and powerful badasses to inspire and entertain us. This Black History Month, we're celebrating the fact that more of those superheroes are Black than ever before. 

Batwoman recently welcomed Javicia Leslie, a Black bisexual woman, as its new lead. Black Lightning will end later this year after having introduced one of TV's first Black lesbian superheroes with Thunder (Nafessa Williams). Just this week, WandaVision powered up a new superhero in the form of Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), and if the comics are any indication, she's about to be a real force to be reckoned with. 

Even as the world is still mourning the loss of Chadwick Boseman, who played the incomparable Black Panther, there are a lot of heroes to celebrate. 

photosRenewed and Canceled TV Shows 2021 Guide

A few superheroes from some of TV's biggest shows opened up to E! News about what it means to play a superhero or comic book character, and who their biggest personal heroes and inspirations are and were growing up. 

Scroll down to read!

 

Katie Yu/The CWDavid Harewood, Martian Manhunter/J'onn J'onnz on Supergirl

On playing J'onn J'onnz: 

"It has been a great honour playing J'onn J'onnz on the CW these past 5 years.  Having the opportunity to represent such a strong and honourable Black superhero. In these extremely testing times has been one of the highlights of my career. As a kid growing up, there were very few superheroes that looked like me on television so I'm extremely proud to have given a generation of young people the chance to see themselves represented in this genre." 

On his personal heroes: 

"Growing up I was always an Incredible Hulk fan! I was struck by his power and strength, but the fact that he used his abilities for good always struck me as important. There was always purpose to his destruction—it was never indiscriminate and there seemed to be a gentleness to this huge creature that spoke to his humanity.

In terms of Black superheroes for me there is only one—Black Panther! Never has a superhero film had such an impact on me before or since and Chadwick's performance imbued the role with such grace and humility that the character made for a true hero. The film itself had such a massive cultural impact that I think it stands alone as a truly inspirational piece of work that will inspire generations." 

Dean Buscher/The CWMaisie Richardson-Sellers, Vixen/Amaya/Charlie on Legends of Tomorrow

On playing Vixen: 

"Growing up, I so rarely saw characters who looked like me on screen, and I never saw a Black superhero. The lack of diverse representation can have a deep effect on children's confidence and sense of self worth. I am so proud to have had the opportunity to portray Vixen in DC's Legends of Tomorrow, and to see an increasing number of diverse superheroes on our screens. The power that comes from seeing yourself reflected back to you is immeasurable. It tells you that you should be proud of who you are, and that you can achieve anything, including saving the world!" 

Robert Falconer/The CWCamrus Johnson, Luke Fox on Batwoman

On playing Luke: 

"Playing a superhero is an absolute dream come true—not only because every time I see a comic book now I think of my job, but I also feel like I've already made my place in history. Growing up, Static Shock was my absolute favorite superhero because he both reminded me of myself and also proved that nerdy, goofy black kids can save the day too. Since Static Shock hasn't been on TV since I was a kid, I hope that I've reminded other little black boys out there now that we're also heroes—and we always will be." 

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