Dear Hollywood: Please Give Us the Storm We Have Been Waiting For

Maybe I’m just being greedy. Last year, I lamented the glaring lack of a Storm solo series, along with my friend Tiara and Princeless author Jeremy Whitley. A few months later, Marvel granted our wish, and I had tears in my eyes when writer Greg Pak encouraged Storm fans to share their Storm love on Twitter in anticipation of the first issue.

Halle Berry as Storm in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) FOX
Almost a mohawk…but not quite

Was I expecting too much when I wished that the next on screen incarnation of Storm would be a good one? That X-Men: Age of Apocalypse director Bryan Singer would choose an actress  better suited to the rebooted role than Halle Berry? An actress who could act, and who would do her research to learn what Storm is about and thereby approach the character with pride, instead of the contempt that Berry initially offered in her phoned-in performance? Whatever her motivation, I’m glad Berry changed her tune once she came to understand how popular the X-Men actually are. But I still revelled in that blessed moment in X-Men: Days of Future Past when Berry’s Storm was finally removed from this pained existenceeven if only for a brief moment.

alexandra-shipp-615x346I had hoped for more, but with the recent casting announcement for Age of Apocalypse, I am once again disappointed. I want to say “enraged,” but frankly, I’m not surprised by this choice and am so jaded at this point that disappointment is all I can muster.

Black Panther #36 | Marvel ComicsFirst, there is the visibly obvious: Alexandra Shipp’s skin tone is lighter than how Storma woman of African ancestry and featuresis usually portrayed in the comics. It speaks to the serious problem of colourism in Hollywood where dark-skinned women rarely portray any prominent character unless that character is a slave or a maid. When it comes to women, Hollywood is more comfortable with “racial ambiguity.”

But if you can’t give me an actress that looks the part, then at least give me one that can act the fuck out of it.

Lupita Nyong'o photoshopped as Storm

There are many young black actresses with proven ability who could have played Storm. Ardo listed several examples here. Even an unknown actress could have have worked well, bringing more fresh talent to Hollywood and to the X-Men franchise.

Instead, we have someone with a resume of uncritically acclaimed performances in Drumline 2, House of Anubis, and the Aaliyah movie that currently rates a 2.8/10 on IMDb. I can only hope that her audition was out of this world.

But Bryan Singer has made his choice. I have to look forward now. I would hate to be in Shipp’s shoes, waking up to the Internet’s wrath. She may not be able to laugh off the hate as Ben Affleck did when he was announced as Batman, so I won’t be a further part of the negativity. Instead, I will hope and pray that Shipp will use this opportunity to prove me oh so very wrong. I hope that she will do what, apparently, Halle Berry did notthat is, review the source material, because you cannot pick up an issue of any book that features Storm and not see this woman for the goddess that she is.

And I won’t put the pressure only on the actress. The writers have to do better too. An actor can only go so far. I have already had to scrape the memory of the Walmart bra-wearing Emma Frost fetching ice for Sebastian Shaw from my mind. For Storm to work in Age of Apocalypse, the writers are going to have to dig in and understand why fans like me are expecting so much more from this character.

Marvel's Uncanny X-MenI grew up with Storm. When I was ten years old and my brother handed me his comic collection, I discovered a world where powerful people did amazing thingswith or without their mutant abilities. And Storm was at the forefront. In fact, the moments I loved Storm the most were when she was at her weakest. She showed me that it was okay to have flaws and fears. During her moments of weakness, Storm always overcamenot with her phenomenal powers, but with her incredible strength of will.

 Shipp will be playing a younger Storm, but one in whom all the grace and poise and beauty and ferocity and compassion and strength and leadership should be evident. She might be young, but in her, I should see the woman she will become. The woman who can walk into a room and command with her presence alone, long before she summons the lightning to her fingertips.

Avengers #19 | Marvel Comics

This is the Storm I want to see on the big screen. This is the Storm I have been waiting for for so long. This is the Storm I will throw all of my money at, again and again.

Because this is the goddess that I worship.

The ball’s in your court, Hollywood. Give me a Storm that I can believe in.

Wendy Browne

Wendy Browne

Publisher, mother, geek, executive assistant sith, gamer, writer, lazy succubus, blogger, bibliophile. Not necessarily in that order.

10 thoughts on “Dear Hollywood: Please Give Us the Storm We Have Been Waiting For

  1. I was really moved by your article. It was amazing and touching. While I am not African-American I understand your feelings and motivations for wanting these characters to be representational inspirations as they are in the comics. When I was young and living in an abusive home it was inspiration from Jean Grey that gave me hope. You can imagine my despair by the first Hollywood incantation of that character. Hollywood needs to stop white washing strong black woman like Storm so she can be the strong role model she is meant to be.

  2. I agree….I don’t know why…the two grown men on the team and Storm gets no play or love intrest..Wolverine cant even go on without Jean Grey….wth. I hate that in Hollywood African American characters are either ugly and suffering with a miserable life and exisitance, high sexualized, are discounted , racially ambiguous or are just there. Storm is the only one of the main xmen who lack a back story…we know where scot , wolverine, beast,magneto and jean came from but what about storm and until the Captain American civil war movie came out we didn’t even know that Storm had a brother( the scene where we see a more truer Storm tell Black Widow to move or be moved gives nod the the badass Storm is) . Halle Berry doesn’t represent us all……but if she is gonna do Storm…please Hollywood it would be no skin off your nose to give us the real Strom and make it good

  3. I’m really hoping that most of the female characters in the next movie, especially Storm and Rogue get a good re-working. They need to show on screen, why these heroines kick butt ,side by side with the men.

  4. Storm suffers from the same malady Wonder Woman has and that is Hollywood’s inability to show an authentic woman of strength and femininity. Storm is one of the most power female characters in comics. Period. She is complex and she has been written mostly by white men (It’s unfortunate the same can’t be said of black character.) Let’s not, like so many people online, be quick to judge Shipp. This could be the role that launches a career.

  5. If anything I think the racism problem in America has just gotten worse over the last 8 years. Obama has polarised the nation instead of bringing them together. So the chances of Hollywood getting over themselves and doing some decent black characters in mega budget movies are… vanishingly small.

    Did you see this?

    Hard not to describe this as ‘fascist police state’.

    Anyway. i digress.

    At least the new Storm isn’t Halle Berry.

  6. I think you hit the nail on the head with
    ” She showed me that it was okay to have flaws and fears. ”
    I think that arc with her being powerless t is when I fell in love with characters with problems. I like seeing chinks in the armor to a certain degree. However I feel that that they have only given us a watered down version of Storm in the last few movies. Now nobody is asking to see “Storm: The Africa Years”, yet. But they can definitely step up their game. I fear that once again we will be let down because they went and took the generic easy Hollywood route and did some basic bullshit.

    I hope to be wrong and maybe this new actress can act the hell out of this and the writers do her some justice.
    Im blaming you if it doesnt work out.

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