It’s that time of the week again where comic book news sites all over the world get the same press release sure to inspire quite a few "I’m not racist, but…" comments from otherwise well-balanced (because their girth gives them a low center of gravity) comic book fans. This time, the rage will be in response Marvel casting a black actor to play Asgardian character Heimdall. No, it's not 2010 all over again, and we're not talking about Idris Elba! This time it's NBA star Chris Bosh taking on the role, and he's voicing an animated Heimdall in Marvel's Hulk: Agents of S.M.A.S.H. cartoon. From the press release:
NBA Star and Miami Heat forward, Chris Bosh guest stars as the voice of Asgardian hero, Heimdall, for a special episode of “Marvel’s Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.,” airing Sunday, February 23 at 8am/7c inside Marvel Universe on Disney XD. The two-time NBA Champion and Olympic gold medalist, Bosh joins Disney XD for an epic adventure that reunites two of Marvel’s biggest Heroes, Thor and the Hulk, for a two-team take down of one of the Marvel Universe’s most dangerous villains, Malekith.
"I can't believe this!" protested David Duke, former U.S. presidential candidate and longtime fan of comics and comics adaptations. "I thought it was a huge mistake when Marvel cast Idris Elba as Heimdall for reasons that are totally not racist in any whatsoever, and when I learned that Heimdall would appear in animated form in Hulk: Agents of S.M.A.S.H., I thought this would finally be an opportunity to set things white."
"I mean set things right," he quickly added.
"But Marvel decided to cast another black actor instead?!" he wondered incredulously. Duke went on to point out that he had no problem with Marvel creating a new magical space alien character if they wanted a black one, but that they shouldn't just make an existing white magical space alien black because "race is essential to a character, even when that character is a magical space alien in a mythical society that has no relation to the modern concept of racism, places no importance on skin color because races in Asgardian context refers to trolls and elves and giants, and which is itself completely different from its original mythological depiction."
But David Duke isn't the only fan upset about the news. All across the country, fans were outraged about the casting. One local fan group gathered on the front lawn of Bosh's family home in Hutchins, Texas to protest the casting.
"We were putting up a sign post to hang out peaceful protest signs," explained ringleader and fellow Marvel Comics character The Hatemonger. "We put one large stick into the ground standing upright, and then we nailed another stick across it perpendicularly. It was all going well until one of our members accidentally spilled some gasoline on it and then another one dropped their cigarette, and... well..."
"I know this looks bad," a sheepish Hatemonger told us as the makeshift cross burned behind him, "but we really weren't trying to cause any trouble. We just wanted people to know that we disagree with this casting choice, and hope Marvel will reconsider."
"Now excuse me," he said, shivering. "It's getting cold, and I want to pass out these white sheets and hoods to everyone so that we can warm up by the fire."
And then there are some fans who are split on the issue.
"On the one hand, I'm very angry that a fictional space alien with magical powers is being voiced by yet another black actor. Just keep the black actor you already had!" said Paula Deen, a former television cooking show host and huge Thor fan. "But on the other hand, they do all sound alike."
It looks like we've still got a long way to go before people stop being outraged whenever a black actor is considered for a role previously played by white actors. If nothing else though, Heimdall does prove one scientific theory beyond a shadow of a doubt - once you go black, you never go back.
Check out the controversial episode of Hulk: Agents of S.M.A.S.H. on Sunday, February 23.