I was born in 1967 and was a by-product of the ‘70s and '80s and grew up loving Steve Ditko, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, The X-Men, The New Mutants, Daredevil, Spiderman and so much more. These comic superhero creators are giants in the Marvel world.
The one thing that has always been lacking has been diversity — especially Native American heroes — outside of a handful of fairly stereotypical Native American heroes, except maybe Danielle Moon Star and Forge. But Stan Lee and Chris Claremont, as well as other creators, were mindful that every nationality should be represented in the Marvel Universe.
I was always thrilled to see a Native hero in comics. As a Mohawk kid, sure I would have loved to see a ton of them.
In this world of social media in which diversity is becoming not just a happenstance, but a necessity, superhero movies are doing a job that is improving regularly with the beauty of such creations as Black Panther. I literally cried when I saw heroes of color talking about colonization. But now Marvel needs to step up to the plate.
Here we are at the pinnacle of Marvel movie magic. Avengers: Endgame is poised to make the most of any movie ever created. With the release of end-credit scenes coming to theaters on June 28, Marvel could pull ahead of Avatar. Endgame might even make 3 billion dollars.
So now what?
I think Marvel has an amazing opportunity to create something never before created, to further the recognition of diversity in mainstream films.
As a Native American human-rights award-winning journalist, that has seen the benefit of accurate representation of diversity in film, and as a Native American journalist and writer who has seen every Marvel movie several times, and wanted more.
I have seen the myriad of horrendous stereotypes, Native American appropriation, cultural insensitivities, and the absence of production companies working with tribes to create culturally sound projects and respectful adherence to traditions and Native beliefs.
The film industry has been the worst offender in terms of creating cultural slander against Native people.
Many do not know, that when Sacheen Littlefeather walked up to accept the Oscar for Marlon Brando — who had refused to accept the Oscar due to the terrible treatment of Native Americans in the film industry — security had to hold back John Wayne who was hurling racial threats and threatened to remove Sacheen from the stage. She told me this directly.
I am hoping Marvel might consider this:
A Marvel superhero movie with the majority as Native American superheroes.
I have written about Native American and Indigenous superheroes in Indian Country Today several times. Currently, there are about 75 Native American heroes already created over the years by the master himself, Stan Lee and others such as Chris Claremont.
See my related article when Stan Lee had passed away.
A #NativeNerd tribute to Stan Lee: A list of Marvel Native Superheroes.
Let’s set the proverbial scene of a potential Native Marvel superhero movie, shall we?
There is a massive celebration in Indian Country, perhaps there is a drum, talented dancers dancing to an awesome rhythm when a meteor comes through the atmosphere and smashes into a Uranium mine or pipeline plant on Native territory. A Native boy standing at the edge of the mine is blasted with massive radiation from the meteor, combined with the Uranium core, he becomes something to be reckoned with. Let your imagination run wild. Perhaps he is a giant, radiation lava-being that is now wishing to destroy everything around him.
Suddenly the skies erupt, the dancers stop. 10 different Native dancers and other drummers look at each other knowingly, they spring into action, some take flight, some change their appearance...
The Native superhero battle begins.
It’s not so far-fetched. As I said, there are over 75 Indigenous heroes in the Marvel Universe that already exist.
So let’s just say Marvel is listening, perhaps they might be a bit curious if this is doable. Ok, Marvel, in the odd chance you might be looking at this article, here you go.
Here are 10 Native Marvel Superheroes and the 10 Native actors that could play them
Native Superhero: American Eagle / Jason Strongbow, Navajo
Native Actor: Adam Beach
Super strength, speed, agility, stamina, near-invulnerability, super eyesight, increased senses, crossbow proficiency. Yes, we know Adam played Slipknot in Suicide Squad, but his sacrifice to forward the story was too short. Bring on more Adam Beach.
Jason Strongbow/American Eagle Marvel website link
Native Superhero: Centurious
Native Actor: Wes Studi
As a prince of an “Amerindian Tribe” Centurious is a God. With a description as a soulless immortal with supernatural abilities, magic, strength, control over the elements, telekinesis, levitation and mind control, Wes Studi could blast into the Marvel Universe like Thanos. Studi could also play the Beyonder in the Secret Wars. My guess is that Secret Wars to be the next Marvel Universe saga.
Native Superhero: Echo / Ronin / Maya Lopez
Native actor: Sivan Alyra Rose
Though Deaf, Echo has photographic reflexes - meaning she can immediately duplicate movements, thus her expertise in martial arts, acrobatics and dance. Sivan Alyra Rose was made to be Echo.
Native Superhero: Red Wolf, Cheyenne
Johnny Wakeley (1800s) / Thomas Thunderbird (1970s) / William Talltrees (2010s)
Native Actor: Tatanka Means
Super strength, speed, senses, tracking ability, wolf companion Lobo
Special Note: Native artist Jeffrey Veregge brought the comic back to Marvel! So bring on Tatanka.
Native Superhero: Forge, Cheyenne
Native actor: Marcus LaVoi
Super genius inventor, great with all types of electronics to a mutant level. He's like the MacGyver of mutants.
Native Superhero: Moonstalker / Kiana, Inupiat
Native actor: Q'orianka Kilcher
Moonstalker can run, fly at super speed, has athletic movements, super-camouflage and is an expert hunter and tracker.
Native Superhero: Puma / Thomas Fireheart, Native descent, likely Navajo
Native actor: Loren Anthony
Puma has genetically enhanced human abilities, with transformation powers to become a humanoid Puma, with increased senses, as well as a martial arts expert.
Native Superhero: Risque / Gloria Dolores Muñoz, Seminole and Cuban
Native actor: Elizabeth Frances
Risque can control gravity, control density of objects, create concussion blasts, can perform levitation of objects. Special Note: Risque was a love interest of Warpath. She has appeared in 89 comic issues.
Native Superhero: Shaman / Talisman, Michael Twoyoungmen, First Nation / Tsuu T’ina
Native actor: Michael Greyeyes
Native medicine expertise as well as western medicine and surgical expertise, holder of medicine bag that holds all objects to summon into existence, can transform into an eagle, levitation.
Native Superhero: Silver Fox, Kayla, First Nation Blackfoot Confederacy
Native actor: Amber Midthunder
Super healing, will not age. Special note: Silver Fox is a love interest of Wolverine. Wolverine / Logan is set to be a younger version of himself in upcoming X-Men movies, so I feel Amber would be a good bet.
Special addition: The Native Supervillain, Redstone
Native Actor: Zahn McClarnon
Redstone is a supervillain that is also a serial killer. His magical powers derive from the earth. He was born on an Apache Reservation and became a member of the Redeemers. If anyone should play a villain, it is Zahn McClarnon.
There you are. As you might imagine choosing among all of the incredibly talented Native actors was a brutal job. There are so many more that undoubtedly could do a wonderful job.
That said, here is a great list of Native actors (some are no longer with us, blessings and prayers to them) on the Internet Media Database also known as IMDb.
Three major existing characters in the Marvel Universe
The New Mutants (Summer/Fall 2019)
Danielle Moonstar, Cheyenne, also known as Psyche / Mirage / Spellbinder / Dark Rider
Danielle Moonstar is a strong telepath, who creates mirages or imagery of a person’s deepest fears or desires to control them. She can communicate or see through the eyes of animals and has psionic bolts that stun the nervous system. Blu Hunt, an actress of Native descent, will be portraying Moonstar in Marvel’s New Mutants in 2019.
The Gifted on Fox
Thunderbird / John Proudstar, Apache
With super strength, speed, tracking abilities, enhanced insight, and senses, John Proudstar now appears in the Fox Series ‘The Gifted’ executive-produced by Stan Lee, he is the leader of the resistance force of mutants that post-date the existence of the X-Men. Blair Redford portrays John Proudstar.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Warpath / James Proudstar, Apache
Warpath has super strength, dexterity with weapons, a super healing factor, can fly, and has medicine powers. Warpath or James Proudstar is John Proudstar’s brother. He appeared in Marvel’s “X-Men’s Days of Future Past” and was portrayed by Boo Boo Stewart.