Comic books have a reputation as a progressive artistic medium. Featuring numerous characters that range greatly in areas like race and sexual orientation, comics often find themselves considerably ahead of their curve. The irony of this, however, is that their film counterparts tend to stay behind this curve.

 

Actress Zoe Kravitz (“Divergent,” “Mad Max: Fury Road”) revealed in a recent interview that the producers of “The Dark Knight Rises” denied her a role in final installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy due to her race. They rationalized their decision on the grounds that they were not “going urban” with their film, denying her a chance to even audition.

 

Ironically, the film itself leans heavily on themes of a marginalized, languishing urban populace rising up in the face of class inequality.

 

Kravitz’s response to that revelation proved both humorous and insightful on the state of racial portrayals in Hollywood films:

“It was like, ‘What does that have to do with anything?’ I have to play the role like, ‘Yo, what’s up, Batman? What’s going on wit chu?'”

 

Zoe Kravitz stands in the center of the cast of "X-Men"

Zoe Kravitz was deemed “too urban” for Batman, though she was cast in “X-Men.” (hotflick.net)

One should note that while Kravitz did appear in the film “X-Men: First Class,” she appeared as a villain in a film that also killed off the only other person of color on the titular team.

 

Media portrayal of minorities as “urban” or second class citizens can prove dangerous and only feeds that reality as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

 

Kravitz would go on to explain further:

“Black culture is so much deeper than [urban]…but unfortunately that is what’s fed through the media. That’s what people see. That’s what I saw. But then I got older and listened to A Tribe Called Quest and watched films with Sidney Poitier, and heard Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. I had to un-brainwash myself. It’s my mission, especially as an actress.”

 

This incident represents just one in a long string of examples where qualities such as talent or passion become superseded by a specific aesthetic quality. Race, gender, and age represent just a small handful of areas where filmmakers can discriminate against actors and actresses.

 

Do you think the producers were justified in their casting decision? Comment below or tweet @connerws to tell us what you think!