BEST BETS: "Jessica Jones," "Big Trouble/Escape from New York" & More October 2016 Highlights
Few actors have years as good as the one Lupita Nyong’o is currently having right now. Fresh off of an Academy Award for her critically acclaimed performance in Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave, Nyong’o has just signed on for a role in Star Wars: Episode VII. Not only does Nyong’o’s involvement in J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars sequel up the expectations for that film considerably, it also means that Nyong’o is going to use her momentum and time in the spotlight to defy convention by traveling to genres dominated by white male actors. This is a very welcome change.
This would also be a welcome change for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, should Nyong’o continue to balance her filmography with both dramatic and blockbuster roles. So far, there have been very few women of color in Marvel’s big screen output; Zoe Saldana’s Gamora is the only one that comes to mind. That’s a shame considering how progressive the MCU films have been regarding men of color and female roles. Here’s hoping that Marvel’s planning on fixing that, and that they’ll have Lupita Nyong’o put her talents to work in one of these roles.
As Marvel’s first black female protagonist, the bionic-armed detective Misty Knight deserves much more attention than she’s gotten in her nearly forty years of existence. As one half of the crime fighting duo the Daughters of the Dragon, Misty Knight has kept New York City’s streets clean and fought alongside heroes like Iron Fist and Luke Cage. This role would allow for Nyong’o to play a different type of strong character, one built as much on witty attitude as on confidence. With Luke Cage and Iron Fist getting Netflix series of their own, Marvel Studios should consider setting one of their episodes aside to act as a pilot for a Misty Knight series.
Rumors have been circling for years now about the Inhumans place in the MCU and the possibilities for their eventual feature film. If that happens, Lupita Nyong’o would be a perfect fit for the Inhuman queen Medusa. As the matriarch of the Inhuman Royal Family, whoever plays Medusa has to exude both warmth and regality; those are two qualities are so essential to Nyong’o, they come across in every word she speaks. And if anyone can pull off the kinda goofy ability of having dozens of feet of prehensile hair, it’s the incredibly powerful Nyong’o.
There are way more women in the Guardians of the Galaxy comics than the upcoming feature film would lead movie goers to believe, and we really hope that a few more of them make their way into future Marvel movies. Like the rest of the Guardians, Moondragon has a bit of a complicated history; she’s an Earth woman that was raised on Saturn’s moon Titan, where she honed her considerable mental powers under the guidance of monks. Also, she was initially brought to Titan by Thanos’ father, Mentor. Oh, and, yeah, she’s also the daughter of the tortured human spirit that resides within Drax the Destroyer. So…she’s a bit complicated. But if there’s one actress that can cut through all of those complications and make the character feel fully formed and independent, it’s Nyong’o. And unlike Medusa, Moondragon sports a hairstyle much more similar to Lupita’s everyday look.
The Avengers need more women, and they need Captain Marvel – the original female Captain Marvel. No disrespect to Carol Danvers, who absolutely one-hundred million percent should show up ASAP, but we can’t forget Monica Rambeau. She’s gone by a number of other code names, like Spectrum, but one thing has remained constant: she’s a willful, take-no-crap, bad-ass with the guts to lead the Avengers and the powers to back up every single one of her decisions. She’s a powerhouse of a character, one that demands respect from even someone like Tony Stark. This feels like the Marvel character Lupita was born to play.
Well, except for Storm. We know this is Fox territory, and if Fox really wants to one-up Marvel Studios, they would quit wasting time and cast Nyong’o as Storm before anyone else fills up her post-Episode VII schedule. With X-Men: Apocalypse set in the 1980s and producers and writers already hinting that we’ll see younger versions of familiar characters, bringing in Nyong’o as ‘80s punk Storm just seems like a no-brainer. Since she was raised in Kenya, exactly where Professor X first recruited Storm forty years ago, Lupita’s natural speaking voice just sounds like Storm; you hear her talk, and you finally realize what Halle Berry was trying to do in 2000’s X-Men. She can play strong, she can play regal, she can play complicated and messy – she can do everything an actress needs to do to play Storm right. Just watch any of Nyong’o’s many acceptance speeches; the woman knows how to command attention. This isn’t a Marvel Studios role, no, but it’s one that needs to happen.