Storm, Black Panther, and Playing the Level Field

Was it just a month ago that I was playing What If with Storm and Wolverine? Well, I was actually in the middle of blogging about something else when I heard the news from World of Black Heroes.

Storm and Black Panther are through. I refer to the good people at World of Black Heroes for my facts, and I encourage you to do so as well.

I know I shouldn’t be all excited about all this, especially given that the apparent catalyst for it is the destruction of Wakanda as we know it. But Storm and Black Panther were not a happy couple for long, if at all. And if it is wrong to be happy that these two people are now free to pursue real love and real happiness, then some part of me embraces wrong and does not wish to be right.

The awful truth is that the whole marriage never worked for me because it felt like Something We Should Do. It was the Expected Thing. I cannot support the contrived pairing of two characters who have little in common beyond their skin color. It bothers me that it is apparently Expected to get black characters together, all matchy matchy, with no regard for what might make a better – or even a more interesting – relationship. I just think that’s sloppy storytelling, and I won’t get behind sloppy storytelling.

It is not enough for black characters to merely occupy a predetermined corner of the playing field. I won’t be satisfied until black characters have access to all of it. With that in mind, although I was pouty and cranky about Storm and Black Panther’s matchy matchy marriage, the slow decline and collapse of that marriage took these two off the pedestal and made them real. They had become like so many other married couples, high-powered and otherwise, who were going through some rough times. They weren’t working out, for reasons both predictable (refusal to settle into preconceived marital roles) and unpredictable (one partner’s Phoenix-empowered colleague laying waste to the couple’s homeland). When I heard these two were actually in marriage counseling at one point, I had to shake my head. How courageous to put these two – the “perfect,” matchy matchy superheroes – in marriage counseling. I aspire to that sort of courageous plotting. Having access to the whole playing field includes playing on the part that’s covered with rocks.

But now, interracial romance fans … now begins the task of finding a strong shoulder (perhaps an adamantium-fortified shoulder) for Storm to cry on. Let the what if games commence.

What should happen now?

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