Greg Berlanti, an executive producer best known for his work on shows like Arrow, Riverdale, You and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, promises more race and gender swaps for characters in future adaptations of DC Comics properties.
Whilst appearing on Variety’s Virtual TV Fest, one of many digital promotional events compensating for real-life ones that were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, the media mogul told reporters that superheroes should reflect our here and now, not the previous century.
Berlanti went on to say that execs like him bear an important social responsibility when it comes to creating “iconic characters” for the current generation.
“In the DC Universe especially, there’s been a focus on us recognizing that we want to create heroes that look and felt like today, not the 1940s or 1950s,” he said. “They were all very well intentioned when they created those back then, but there’s a certain responsibility that you have if you’re going to escort these iconic characters into this generation to make sure they have the heart of that character, but they don’t have to have the gender or the color of that character or the sexuality.”
Fellow showrunner Nkechi Okoro Carroll, who also participated in the TV Fest, reflected on how the civil rights protests in response to the death of George Floyd, an African-American victim of racially-motivated police brutality, has effected the way in which she conceives of her social responsibilities as an entertainer.
“That unfortunate perfect storm created a moment where people couldn’t deny what was happening in this country anymore,” she said. “Because of that and because of the magnitude of the response we’ve seen, it does feel different. … The speed with which so many companies, networks, studios, other entertainment entities put out statements in support of Black Lives Matter is not something we saw before.”
Carroll concluded her statement with a sentiment that has been expressed many times before, but which most activists feel has not been addressed properly enough: the disproportionally small amount of black voices in mass media and global entertainment.
Over the course of his career, Greg Berlanti has played around with the gender and ethnicity of his characters quite a bit. In the past, however, his main motivation was always to use these changes as a gateway for original storytelling. And given the state of the world, his practice has now gained an important political dimension.