Fancy some more Black superheros? Will E.X.O – The Legend of Wale Williams Part One be next to appear on screen
‘Something that you have never seen before, right?’ That is what creator and writer, Roye Okupe, hopes to achieve with his African Superhero narrative, E.X.O – The Legend of Wale Williams (part one).
The year is 2025 and the young Wale Williams is investigating the disappearance of his father in his hometown of Lagoon, Nigeria. Armed with only one clue, his father’s Nanosuit that somehow gives him Superhuman powers, Wale Williams must save his city from attacks from a sociopathic extremist, Oniku. With E.X.O, Okupe hopes to ‘put Africa on the map when it comes to telling superhero stories.’
In the beginning, Okupe was told that the idea was ‘great’ but that ‘there was no fan base for this sort of product.’
African characters – Storm, the Black Panther and Oya from Marvel, and Vixen from DC – have gained global fandoms, fans that are not only attracted to the depth and the dynamism of their stories, but to the diversity they bring to the worlds and the universes of comic book narratives.
But – with the exception of Storm and the Black Panther – African characters – or characters from the African Diaspora – have been ignored or have had their roles reduced by producers and executives, maybe because of growing ensemble casts or maybe because of a perceived lack of interest in the character; Storm in the X-Men movies is a shadow of what she is in the comics.
Science fiction, comic book and fantasy have largely excluded people of color, despite the masses of men and women of color who make up fandoms and also, perhaps most interestingly, the parallels between the hatred superheroes face and the racism and xenophobia faced by people of color.
Okupe continued to develop his story, taking his time in ‘developing the story and characters’ and eventually producing a quality animation short that teases the sophisticated tone of the graphic novel. E.X.O reached its Kickstarter goal of $3,500 in only three days, and with nine days to go (as of the 26/04) they have already doubled it.
The success of Okupe’s crowdfunding is crucial to creatives working with genres like science fiction and fantasy. It proves that audiences are no longer content with Captain Americas, Wolverines and Batmans; that they want more Wale Williams, more Storm’s, and more Rosario Dawson screen time on Daredevil. Not only because they are men and women of color but because they create a dynamism to genres that have become troubled white middle aged loners suffering from a moral crisis (sorry, but think about it).
Check out the trailer for E.X.O The Legend of Wale Williams – Part One here.
– Hannah Campbell