June 17, 2011

Predator has best Native superhero?

A decent article on Native superheroes based on an interview with Michael Sheyahshe (Caddo), author of Native Americans in Comic Books. Perhaps the most interesting tidbit is about the movie Predator:

Native American Superheroes

By Steven Phelps[W]hen I ask him to name the most visible or even a well-known sci-fi Native superhero, his answer comes as a little bit of a throwback.

“What popped into my head was Predator [1987],” he says. “There was a Native character—Billy—and he’s a lot of people’s favorite from that movie.” Cherokee and Seminole actor Sonny Landham famously played Billy alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the cult classic. Sheyahshe says that although Billy’s place in Predator’s ensemble cast of ethnicities is not original—it has its roots in the World War II comic Sgt. Rock—the film differs in that the Native character is not just a magical way to resolve the story.

“That particular character in that movie is one of the toughest, the one to take on death, the unknown force. Even though in some circles that reinforces the stereotype, that’s still a favorite character for a lot of people,” he says.
Comment:  Since I haven't seen Predator, I can't comment on Sheyahshe's choice. I'm not sure there are any great Native superheroes, just good ones.

Sheyahshe also comments on "The Evolution of Three Great Native Superheroes." More like two mediocre Native superheroes and one good one, but never mind. His capsule comments:American Eagle

American Eagle’s character is “a significant improvement” for not having powers with an ethnic origin (such as tribal ancestor magic or powers from the Great Spirit).

Spirit Iron-Knife

Also notable in the recent relaunch, says Sheyahshe, is “a newfound sense of humor that was missing from the 1980s version … and remains absent in most mainstream media representations.”

Danielle Moonstar

[S]he is a strong female presence in a medium where many women characters are relegated to the sidelines.
Slight correction: I'm not sure American Eagle's powers have changed. What has changed is the ridiculous Plains chief costume that had nothing to do with the Navajo culture.

For more on the subject, see Comic Books Featuring Indians.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For someone of my generation, the collage should've included the Green Power Ranger, but I'll ignore that. And I'm wary of any Indian who identifies as a shaman.

Anyway, I've seen Predator, and, um, Billy has superior survival skills than all the others. Which is weird, since their knowledge of Central America is presumably all from their Marine training.

He actually lives for quite a while, but then has the usual heroic sacrifice. (It is a slasher movie.)

Before that, Landham had done pornography. More recently, he tried to run for office in the South. You can't do the latter if you'd done the former.