With the release of “A Wrinkle In Time”, young Black girls will get to see someone that looks like them be a hero.
This year, a Black girl will get to save the world in the science fantasy film “A Wrinkle In Time”. The movie is a landmark achievement for inclusive science fiction and fantasy (SFF) films thanks to its director Ava DuVernay, who adapted the children’s book written by Madeleine L’Engle. Not only do we get a Black female protagonist played by Storm Reid, but we also get Oprah Winfrey and Mindy Kaling in prominent roles.
To understand how remarkable this film is, consider the fact that it was just last year that women of color were starring in prominent SFF film franchises. In the Marvel superhero film “Thor Ragnarok”, Tessa Thompson played the warrior Valkyrie. Meanwhile, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” features Kelly Marie Tran as Rico Tico, a member of a group of rebels called the Resistance.
Although we’ve had women of color starring in major SFF television series such as “Star Trek” and “The Walking Dead”, they are only recently getting a major presence in SFF films. Besides last year’s releases and the upcoming film “Black Panther”, it is difficult for me to recall many SFF films with a woman of color protagonist. Off the top of my head, the films I can name include “Pacific Rim”, “Moana”, and ”Advantageous”.
Based on the fabulous trailers for the film, “A Wrinkle In Time” recalls the trailers for “Thor Ragnarok”, which conveys the similar feelings of an epic fantasy adventure. It is worth noting that “Thor Ragnarok” was directed by an Indigenous person, Taika Waititi. The success of Thor’s third installment shows the importance of having people of color on-screen and behind the scenes.
In fact, “Thor Ragnarok” is proof that inclusive films sell big at the box office. If the anticipation for “A Wrinkle In Time” is any indication, the film will do very well once it is released. Now is the time that Hollywood realizes that people want to see sci-fi and fantasy films that aren’t about white straight cis-male heroes and hire more marginalized creators to make and star in them.
While “A Wrinkle In Time” is definitely a great start, there should be more film adaptations of books written by people of color in the future. There are plenty of them out there if you know where to look. To name a few, Daniel Jose Older’s “Shadowshaper”, N.K. Jemisin’s “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms”, and C.B. Lee’s “Not Your Sidekick” would appeal to coming of age fantasy fans, epic fantasy fans, and superhero fans.
When the trailer for “A Wrinkle in Time” was first released, my eyes grew wide, my heart swelled with excitement, and I smiled so big. I’ve loved fantasy fiction since I was a kid and seeing that trailer reminded me of the joy I felt as I devoured book after book. Although I’ve never read the book the film is based on, I’ve always longed to see more fantasy films with Black female leads.
With the release of “A Wrinkle In Time”, young Black girls will get to see someone that looks like them be a hero. The film is not only laying the groundwork for more inclusive SFF films, but shows how hiring marginalized creators to helm them can open the door for refreshing storytelling.