John Ridley creates first Black Batman |

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welcome back john ridley is best known as the oscar-winning screenwriter of 12 years a slave and for tv’s american crime but one of his first passions in life was comic books ridley has now teamed up with dc comics on two new projects that reimagined classic superheroes in diverse ways including the first black batman john ridley joins us now happy new year to you and thanks so much for joining us mr ridley now you came up with the idea to reimagine the dc universe as diverse when did you first encounter comics and start thinking about black superheroes um a long time ago i mean i’m no longer a kid but i’ve been reading comic books since i was a kid and i just remember the first time that i saw a black lightning comic book and always loved comics never really thought about representation much but i think when you see what it is you’re missing when you see a hero who looks like you whose day job was the same as my mom was a teacher you realize that representation does make a difference and little things do mean a lot so for me this has been a long journey of not just appreciating comics where heroes look like me but wanting to be an individual who had the capacity to deliver comics to other readers who represented their backgrounds and this is a bit of a leading question but how important is it for young kids in particular to see themselves represented in comic books i think it’s huge as a parent myself you know my kids are at an age where they don’t merely ingest things but they comment about it they comment about not necessarily seeing heroes or individuals or folks in the wider media who look like them inspiration is absorbed a lot of times so we can talk about representation we can express how important it is as adults to younger people for them to know that they can accomplish anything but for young people to be able to see that to know to know that to absorb it on their own that is huge and you are of course a celebrated oscar-winning screenwriter what was it about writing graphic novels that appealed to you and and how different uh how much of an adjustment was that well i mean the big difference it it’s intrinsically fun i mean i appreciate many of the things that i’ve done 12 years a slave american crime you talked about a tv show i did gorilla documentary let it fall about the la uprisings i’m deeply appreciative of having the opportunity to tell stories like that but they’re tough stories they really are and to be able to tell stories that are literally fantastic that um are not uh constrained by budget that are merely constrained by ideas and originality there’s a great joy there and you know i think of my kids they’re deeply appreciative of the storytelling i’ve done uh but they love things like like black panther they they love to go out and and see these um incredible stories rendered on the big screen so to be able to to add to that mythology on the page for me it’s a great joy and let’s talk about future state the next batman the main character has his origins in the original batman comics who is he and how is having a black batman different from the one that many of us know bruce wayne well uh the individual is going to be playing batman is one of the sons of lucius fox and i think even people who just um tangentially just casually no batman um they remember morgan freeman playing that character so to to be the son of one of batman’s uh trusted allies what that means in story what that means on the page what it means to be part of a very prominent family in gotham city those things to me are very interesting and to your question what makes this batman or this iteration of batman very unique um i know how you ask the question but i don’t look at him as being black batman he is a young man of very particular circumstances who happens to be black and i think if it weren’t for those particular areas of his life of his family of his narrative then yes he would just be a black guy who’s putting on the bat suit but jason’s going to have his own story he’s going to have his own struggles separate from being batman a lot of that is going to be about family which is very important to me again as a father as a husband to really lean into aspects of family all of that is going to make jace’s story very unique and then on top of it yes he does get to be a hero and all of those things that these characters do as hero that’s where the fun is that’s where the excitement is but it’s all predicated on family and that is a good point and a good distinction that you make there so why do you think that it has taken so long for superheroes who happened to be black to go mainstream and there were some some black and other diverse characters in older comics but they never really moved to the forefront you know look i think it’s the same as in any other industry that it’s taken a while for people to really acknowledge changing demographics sometimes it’s just a matter of being hit in the face with finances in business and you see where the growth industries are you see where um the demographics are who excited who are interested in spending their money look i don’t think it’s an accident that the biggest films over the past year or a year removed when we could still go to movie theaters black panther wonder woman captain marvel you look at films like crazy rich asians where people have this pent-up demand to see representation to see themselves in the products that they’re supporting with their money so i like to think that part of it is just people looking at the world and saying hey we need to do a better job of representing but even if it just comes down to business sometimes that’s what it takes for change to be made irrespective of why i’m just very thankful that in the now i get to be part of that storytelling right okay pleasure to talk to you john ridley thanks so much for your time and a reminder for our viewers both future state the next batman and the other history of the dc universe are available at participating comic book retailers and digital platforms such as comixology apple and amazon thank you hi everyone george stephanopoulos here thanks for checking out the abc news youtube channel if you’d like to get more videos show highlights and watch live event coverage click on the right over here to subscribe to our channel and don’t forget to download the abc news app for breaking news alerts thanks for watching

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