Talking diversity in comics with John Ridley, writer of 12 Years a Slave

Zack Smith writes, "I recently got to talk to John Ridley, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of 12 YEARS A SLAVE, about his past writing superhero comics and cartoons including JUSTICE LEAGUE and THE AUTHORITY. Ridley had a number of smart things to say on such topics as the casting of Michael B. Jordan as the Humnan Torch, working with the late Dwayne McDuffie on the JUSTICE LEAGUE movie 'Starcrossed' and his own experiences working in the comics industry. Though he's obviously gone on to big things, Ridley still has a great deal of passion for comics and the people who create them."

I look at my kids, and how they respond to films, and yeah, if there's a Michael B. Jordan in the film, they're going to respond differently – not just in terms of whether or not they want to see the movie, but in terms of seeing someone like them being heroic, someone like them with powers and abilities.

All those things I said to you in that earlier question about wish fulfillment – why should that be limited to a certain space and time? With comic books, Batman has remained the same age forever, Superman has remained the same age – yeah, he gets rebooted and this and that, but if you are writing in a space that is magical, and it is at the whim of the creators, and these stories change as they need to change way back from the early days of the '30s and '40s all the way up to the '70s, '80s, '90s and today, my Batman is not the Batman I understood when I was a kid.

They change. Their stories change. And if they can change to the reality that they do change, why can't they make that change (of race) as well? You know, there are people who are against people of color getting involved in politics, or there was a time when people were against their getting involved with sports.

The real world has changed and moved on. If we can make that change in the real world, we can make it in this fanciful world that exists beyond us.

And if people don't like it – we're not waiting for permission any longer to make these changes in real life, and we're certainly not going to wait for them in storytelling. I never asked for permission.

So for those who are against it – I get it to a degree, but as a society, we're moving on, and we're not asking for permission.

12 YEARS A SLAVE's John Ridley Talks Diversity, Dwayne McDuffie and More in Pt 2
[Zack Smith/Newsarama]

(Thanks, Zack!)