Superman has seen a few iterations over the years, though the face of the franchise often looks similar to the one before. From Christopher Reeves to Brandon Routh to Henry Cavill it’s been a sense that the more things change, the more they mostly stay the same. Until now. There’s major news coming that we could finally see Icon, essentially a Black Superman, hitting the screen sooner than later.
Icon is part of a Milestone Media/ DC crossover distribution deal that had the two entities working together to create new characters who aligned with the DC Universe but existed in their own world. Icon first appeared in a 1983 issue from Milestone. His alter ego is August Freeman (originally Arnus of Terminus) and he shares almost 1:1 overlap with the Clark Kent background, except for his race. The Icon origin story is similar to Superman’s in that he is an alien baby whose pod crash lands on Earth. Except instead of landing in the cornfields of Kansas, Icon’s ship lands in the Deep South in the mid-1800s. He takes on the appearance of an African American baby.
With a different background, “growing up” in a time of slavery in the South, Freeman’s experiences are of course different than Kent’s. The timeline evolves over more years with the former taking on the identity of his own son each time to mask the fact that he never ages. And unlike Kent, Freeman ends up an attorney rather than a news reporter. This background has even been known to influence and inspire a certain Supreme Court Justice.
From an ability perspective, Icon has all the same powers we know from Superman including flight, super speed, super strength, invulnerability, and a bunch more. He’s essentially the same character and this was done purposefully by the two companies.
The Black superman news comes on the heels of a major announcement that Static Shock, based on the cartoon of the same name, would be getting a live-action release. The character Static is an African-American who gains the use of electromagnetic powers after a gas accident. In the same scoop, Michael B. Jordan’s name had been attached to possibly play John Stewart’s Green Lantern, but if that fell through he’d essentially be first in line to play Icon.
Originally, in 2019 Warner Bros. had approached Jordan to replace Henry Cavill as Superman. Jordan passed on the project but still remains attached to the DC Universe as a whole. This is where the excitement over Static and Icon starts ramping up.
Given all of this recent news and the continued popularity of comic book movies in general, finding and exploring new source material is always incredibly exciting. That these new characters offer the ongoing influence of the African American community, on the heels of the overwhelming success of Black Panther (including Jordan’s involvement there), the diversity in the comic book ranks is only set to grow. Keep an eye out for more announcements around Icon and another character, Rocket who is similar to Wonder Woman and could get her own treatment as well.