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These comic characters could change the way kids view superheroes.

Since the 1990s, 10 movies with black superhero leads have actually grossed over $1 billion.

Have you seen many movies lately with black superheroes as the lead character?

My guess would be that you probably haven’t, but there are been a few. Out of the 171 superhero films made since 1920, only 10 of them feature black superheroes as the lead.

However, with the success of Falcon and Black Panther in the Marvel cinematic universe, audiences are incredibly excited about the upcoming release of the "Black Panther" solo film in 2018 too.


Since the 1990s, those 10 movies with black superhero leads have actually grossed over $1 billion.

That’s nearly an average $100 million per film, which is a lot considering many of the well-known black superhero films debuted in theaters during the 1990s (and lead characters such as Spawn and Blade did not have the same universal name recognition as Spider-Man or Superman). Of course, all movies with black characters at the helm don’t turn into box office gold (see "Blankman," "The Meteor Man," and "Steel"), but the need for more diversity in film adaptations of superheroes is pretty obvious.

In fact, it looks like we might be trending toward inclusivity in film too.

A 2015 study by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA analyzed the top 200 theatrical film releases in 2012 and 2013, and the results suggested that increasingly diverse audiences prefer diverse film and television content.

Films with relatively diverse casts earned the highest money in ticket sales in 2012 and 2013. In 2013, the 28 films that had casts with 21%-30% minority actors earned a median global box office total of $143 million versus the median box office for the 50 films that were 10% minority or less, which was $53.2 million.

All of this suggests that moviegoers and comic book fans are going to be more than welcoming to successful depictions of black superheroes in the future, which is awesome.

Here are five black superheroes that could add diversity (and great storylines) to the comic book movie market.

1. Luke Cage

Screenshot via watchmojo.com/YouTube expand=1].

In the case of Luke Cage, black (literally) doesn’t crack. Equipped with unbreakable skin and superhuman strength, not only does Luke Cage boast a storyline that includes narratives of struggles that plague black Americans, but the character also has story arcs of betrayal, redemption, and love to which any moviegoer or comic book fanatic can relate.

Cage, a former gang member, was falsely imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit and received his powers through an injection, similar to the super soldier serum that created Captain America, while in jail. With a series set to premiere on Netflix in September, it might be only a matter of time before you see Luke Cage on the big screen.

2. Bumblebee

Screenshot via DC expand=1] Super Hero Girls/YouTube.

Who is Karen Beecher-Duncan without her bumblebee-themed suit? A genius, inventor, scientist, and DC’s first black female superhero. Bumblebee’s powers come from her intellect, which she used to create her own high-tech suit of armor that gives her the power to fly, to shoot sonic blasts, and to shrink. Even in a shortage of superheroines in film, audiences and studios have shown via "Ant-Man," and Ant-Man’s upcoming sequel, "Ant-Man and the Wasp," there may be room for another bug-themed superheroine who can rock a beehive hairdo and espouse some #blackgirlmagic too.

3. Misty Knight

Screenshot via TheMtVernonKid/YouTube expand=1].

She’s Coffy in comic book form. Misty Knight is one badass, strong black woman who you don’t want to mess with. Knight is an exceptional markswoman, hand-to-hand combat expert, and a former member of the NYPD. Knight lost her arm after she stopped a terrorist attack that targeted a bank, and she was later awarded for her bravery by Stark Industries in the form of a cybernetic, vibranium-made bionic arm that gives her superhuman strength. Knight’s storyline includes hunting superheroes who did not comply with the Superhuman Registration Act, and she would make the perfect addition to the Civil War storyline.

4. Miles Morales

Screenshot via Comics expand=1] Explained/YouTube.

We may be a long way from a film adaptation of the Miles Morales storyline, but one can only hope to see what a black and Latino, Brooklyn-born and raised, Spidey movie would look like. Morales is similar to Peter Parker in that they both can outwit nemeses and friends, but Morales has different anxieties than Peter Parker does. Morales deals with an internal struggle of questioning whether the demons of his father and uncle (both petty criminals) are hard-wired into his DNA, unlike Parker who grows up with a wholesome Aunt May and Uncle Ben. The Morales storyline is one that anyone who grew up with family struggles can connect with.

5. Spawn

Screenshot via watchmojo.com/YouTube expand=1].

I know. We’ve seen Spawn before, but after the success of the R-rated "Deadpool," maybe, just maybe, we can get a dark, gritty, honest-to-Spawn, R-rated film? Todd McFarlane has finished a screenplay and is shopping it around Hollywood. Spawn has everything that a superhero needs too: tragedy, action, and drama. Many of us still remember the popular 1997 film version of the antihero starring Michael Jai White, and with White’s performance in the movie "Blood and Bone," White still has what it takes to make a kick-ass superhero.

It’s hard to predict what the next box office success will be, but diversity on the screen is just as important as diversity off the screen.

Why? Because when diversity wins, everyone wins. Everyone should be able to see someone like themselves on screen. The greatest power a superhero has is the ability to inspire kids to believe they can fly.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


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As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

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Pop Culture

'90s kids share movies that will 'take you back to a better time'

It was a magical time when animals played sports and yet somehow things were just simpler.

YouTube/Upworthy photo illustration

Honey, I shrunk the kid named Matilda while jamming in space!

Everyone knows that '90s movies just hit different. From sports movies to rom-coms to even horror, there was an undeniable innocence, without being overly simplistic or juvenile. They didn’t have nearly the amount of money going into production as they do today, but somehow managed to transport us to magical places.

Movies of the '90s are so iconic that there have been several attempts to reboot beloved titles. Which, let’s face it, tends to be a fool's errand at a cash grab. These movies are so timeless that simply viewing the original is more than fine.

Not sure which movie to start with? You’re in luck—a Reddit user by the name of YouBrokeMyTV asked ’90s kids to share movies that took them “back to a better time,” and because the internet can be a wonderful place, tons of people responded with some beloved classics.

These answers certainly don’t make a definitive list (there are just so, so many gems) but they're a fun glimpse into what made '90s cinema so special. A nostalgic romp through memory lane, if you will.

Enjoy these 14 titles that just might leave you jonesing for a rewatch:

1. "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

via GIPHY

A perfect example of how '90s movies were silly, but smart at the same time. And oh so wholesome.

2. "The Sandlot"

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It taught us nothing about baseball, but everything about friendship, rooting for the underdog and (most important) how to make s’mores.

3. "Drop Dead Fred"

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Critics might have run this cult classic through the mud during its inception, but audiences fell in love with the bizarre charm of this story about a mischievous little girl and her anarchist imaginary friend. So take that, snotfaces!

4. "The Goonies"

via GIPHY

Everyone just wanted to set off an epic quest with their friends for pirate treasure after seeing this movie.

5. Tim Burton's "Batman"

via GIPHY

Before the superhero genre was the behemoth it is today, a quirky director and the dude who was best known for playing the creepy demon in "Beetlejuice" breathed new life into comic-book movies. Marvel might be the leader on creating stories with adult themes that are digestible for kids nowadays, but this DC film was the first of its kind. Plus, that soundtrack … forget about it.

6. "Hook"

via GIPHY

Pretty much any '90s film starring Robin Williams was an absolute gem, but this one in particular is timeless. His gift of balancing childlike humor with emotional gravitas lent itself so well to playing the now grown and cynical Peter Pan, who must learn to reclaim his joy (relatable, millennials?). It was a bang-a-rang-er, no question.

7. "Space Jam"

via GIPHY

It had Looney Tunes, it had aliens and it had Michael Jordan. That’s a winning combination.

8. "Matilda"

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I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that this movie helped a lot of kids make their way through difficult childhoods.

9. "The Parent Trap"

via GIPHY

Even '90s reboots were awesome. And how fun it is to see that Lisa Ann Walker—the actress who played Chessy the housekeeper—is not only yet again gracing the screens in NBC’s “Abbott Elementary,” but is also being revered as a style icon on TikTok for her ultra casual looks in the film. We all knew she was onto something with long button downs and shorts.

10. "The Land Before Time"

via GIPHY


No cartoon, not even “The Lion King,” was a better depiction of childhood grief. And yet, despite encapsulating tragedy, director Don Bluth still left viewers hopeful. The subsequent 14 (yes 14) sequels definitely pale in comparison to the original, but "The Land Before Time" continues to stand the test of time nonetheless.

11. "Richie Rich"

via GIPHY

The scene where they play tag on four-wheelers is simply iconic.

12. "Dunston Checks In"

via GIPHY

Man, the '90s were the golden age of animal-centered films. And not just monkeys either—we got sports playing golden retrievers and not one, but two movies starring talking pigs. What a time to be alive. These films were made before CGI had reached the levels it’s at today, and the authentic interactions between humans and creatures reached right through the screen.

13. "George of the Jungle"
george of the jungle, brendan faser

Watch out for the tree!!!

Giphy

Have I seen this movie at least 20 times? Probably. It doesn’t get any better than this in terms of silly action films with bird puppets. It’s crazy to think that this role would eventually lead Brendan Fraser to "The Mummy" franchise, turning him into a household name. Though his career has had some tragic ups and downs, we are all grateful for the glorious comeback he’s been having.

14. Anything involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
mary kate and ashley

Yes, they were professional detectives.

Giphy

Whether vacationing in London, Paris or Rome, whether playing magical witches or making a huge billboard so their father could find love … Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offered zany, whimsical entertainment while wearing fun outfits. Sometimes, that’s all you need.