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[Black Heimdall], or Does This Really Matter?

OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
edited December 2010 in Debate and/or Discourse
Folks who are familiar with the comic book character Thor probably have a mental image like this;

thor-marvel.jpg

or this;

ThorMonarque.JPG

or potentially this;

ultimate-thor-ultimate-marvel-3212586-440-358.jpg

if it's raining.

And he runs with a lot of dudes that look like him, known as the "Norse Gods."

Like Heimdall;

images%3Fq%3Dheimdall%2Bmarvel%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26sa%3DX%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26biw%3D1280%26bih%3D540%26tbs%3Disch:1&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=609&vpy=86&dur=2940&hovh=229&hovw=220&tx=137&ty=133&oei=rskPTfe-DYT58Ab1vtXNDQ&esq=1&page=1&ndsp=25&ved=1t:429,r:4,s:0

heimdall_marvel_pictureboxart_160w.jpg

But now, in his silver screen form, Heimdall looks like this;

idris-elba-sg-cropped-proto-custom_2.jpg

Is this a relevant cultural issue? Is it kind of silly? Does it matter at all? Is there more or less of an issue for a character like [STRIKE]Thor[/STRIKE] Heimdall, with his well defined ethnic history aspects, to be race-changed than it would be for a character like Spiderman?

Is this the next face of Tchalla?

ryan_reynolds_and_scarlett_johansson_intend_to_adopt_main_11031.jpg

Spiderman?

donald_glover_spider-man_photoshop_01.jpg

How important is a fictional character's ethnicity? Does it vary from character to character? Is there something inherent to [STRIKE]Thor[/STRIKE] that requires him to be played by a 6'6", 250 lb Nord? Or is this a silly thing to get worked up about?

OptimusZed on
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Posts

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Might want to update your OP. The character in question isn't Thor, it's Heimdall.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited December 2010
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    How important is a fictional character's ethnicity?

    OptimusZed wrote: »
    How important is a fictional character

    OptimusZed wrote: »
    fictional character
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    fictional
    OptimusZed wrote: »
    fiction

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  • surrealitychecksurrealitycheck NONSTOP INFINITE CLIMAX POSTING you must go on i cant go on ill go onRegistered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Er that's Heimdall isn't it?

    obF2Wuw.png
  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Posted this in chat but might as well put it here:
    Hmm yeah I was just thinking from looking at the limited information I had that it would be sort of fucked up if they have this Norse god who's violent and aggressive, more so than your average norse god, and they decide, "hey so the norse are like the whitest of white people but this role would be perfect for this black guy". That would be sort of fucked up but I'm not really familiar enough with the mythos to know how accurate that is.

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  • FroThulhuFroThulhu Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Yes, you are wrong about the essential points of the topic.

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    New technology eventually led to the band Queen.
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  • JyrenBJyrenB Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Not to mention Marvel's Norse Gods aren't the Norse Gods as most people see them.

    They're Space Gods. They can be whatever Marvel wants them to be.

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  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited December 2010
    also, Idris Elba is a hip hop dj?

    The dude was Stringer Bell -- he can play whoever he wants

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  • Brian888Brian888 Registered User
    edited December 2010
    Posted this in chat but might as well put it here:
    Hmm yeah I was just thinking from looking at the limited information I had that it would be sort of fucked up if they have this Norse god who's violent and aggressive, more so than your average norse god, and they decide, "hey so the norse are like the whitest of white people but this role would be perfect for this black guy". That would be sort of fucked up but I'm not really familiar enough with the mythos to know how accurate that is.


    Heimdall is the warden of Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge. He's tasked with making sure that nobody sneaks into Asgard uninvited. "Violent" and "aggressive" aren't really in his job description or personality make-up.

  • HeartlashHeartlash Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    I imagine the comic version of "Thor" is not really the most accurate depiction of true Norse mythology anyway...

    Unless they like, believed in Batman, too.

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  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Brian888 wrote: »
    Posted this in chat but might as well put it here:
    Hmm yeah I was just thinking from looking at the limited information I had that it would be sort of fucked up if they have this Norse god who's violent and aggressive, more so than your average norse god, and they decide, "hey so the norse are like the whitest of white people but this role would be perfect for this black guy". That would be sort of fucked up but I'm not really familiar enough with the mythos to know how accurate that is.


    Heimdall is the warden of Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge. He's tasked with making sure that nobody sneaks into Asgard uninvited. "Violent" and "aggressive" aren't really in his job description or personality make-up.

    That's the part the god plays in Marvel's mythos as well?

    I ask because I genuinely don't know.

    sig.jpg
  • SenjutsuSenjutsu fiddy too Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Let's face it, this is about the least historically/religiously inaccurate part of a movie about English speaking Techno Norse Gods and Super-Hero Thor

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  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Just to clarify, Thor's not being played by a black guy. It's one of the other gods, Heimdall.

    Having a black actor playing Thor would be weird, given the character's portrayal in the comic books. Heimdall and the other supporting characters aren't that big a deal, since their looks aren't all that important (I can't even remember what Heimdall looked like in the comic books). Similarly, having the Black Panther played by a white guy would make no sense, given the character's background.

    Some roles are limited to a certain race (Othello needs to be black, or at least the opposite race from the rest of the cast, for the play to make sense). For others, it's irrelevant (does M from James Band have to be white, or male, for the movie to make sense?)

    Anyway, the Asgardians have been retconned as being as being basically a race of powerful aliens who have had interactions with humans before. They're not really Scandinavians.

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  • BogartBogart MR. Lady Anime Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Hemidall, not Thor. He's like eighth billing in a movie that has Welsh Odin, American Frigg, and an Aussie Thor.

  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Wtf is with all these Norse gods with British accents?!

  • ScooterScooter Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Brian888 wrote: »
    Posted this in chat but might as well put it here:
    Hmm yeah I was just thinking from looking at the limited information I had that it would be sort of fucked up if they have this Norse god who's violent and aggressive, more so than your average norse god, and they decide, "hey so the norse are like the whitest of white people but this role would be perfect for this black guy". That would be sort of fucked up but I'm not really familiar enough with the mythos to know how accurate that is.


    Heimdall is the warden of Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge. He's tasked with making sure that nobody sneaks into Asgard uninvited. "Violent" and "aggressive" aren't really in his job description or personality make-up.

    That's the part the god plays in Marvel's mythos as well?

    I ask because I genuinely don't know.

    I don't even know about the real myth, but yes, that's his job in Marvel. He basically misses all the action because he can't leave his bridge. At least, when the bridge is around.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Modern Man wrote: »
    Just to clarify, Thor's not being played by a black guy. It's one of the other gods, Heimdall.

    Having a black actor playing Thor would be weird, given the character's portrayal in the comic books. Heimdall and the other supporting characters aren't that big a deal, since their looks aren't all that important (I can't even remember what Heimdall looked like in the comic books). Similarly, having the Black Panther played by a white guy would make no sense, given the character's background.

    Some roles are limited to a certain race (Othello needs to be black, or at least the opposite race from the rest of the cast, for the play to make sense). For others, it's irrelevant (does M from James Band have to be white, or male, for the movie to make sense?)

    Anyway, the Asgardians have been retconned as being as being basically a race of powerful aliens who have had interactions with humans before. They're not really Scandinavians.

    Yeah more or less this.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • Brian888Brian888 Registered User
    edited December 2010
    Brian888 wrote: »
    Posted this in chat but might as well put it here:
    Hmm yeah I was just thinking from looking at the limited information I had that it would be sort of fucked up if they have this Norse god who's violent and aggressive, more so than your average norse god, and they decide, "hey so the norse are like the whitest of white people but this role would be perfect for this black guy". That would be sort of fucked up but I'm not really familiar enough with the mythos to know how accurate that is.


    Heimdall is the warden of Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge. He's tasked with making sure that nobody sneaks into Asgard uninvited. "Violent" and "aggressive" aren't really in his job description or personality make-up.

    That's the part the god plays in Marvel's mythos as well?

    I ask because I genuinely don't know.


    Yep.

    EDIT - Scooter beat me to it.

  • ShadowThomasShadowThomas Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Looking at the wiki page for the character yields this:
    In Thor: The Mighty Avenger #6, Heimdall, much like his Marvel Universe incarnation, appears as the guard of the Bifrost bridge, sports a goatee and wears a horned helmet that casts his eyes in shadows. Unlike the Marvel Universe version, however, this Heimdall is black, a shapeshifter (taking the forms of Surtur and Fin Fang Foom) and a clear superior to Thor in combat. Heimdall is ordered by Odin to keep Thor from returning to Asgard.


    They might be basing the movie Heimdall off of this version of the character.

  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Wtf is with all these Norse gods with British accents?!
    British accents are used to denote power and respectability.

    The nobles on HBO's series Rome all spoke with Brit accents, for example.

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    Rigorous Scholarship

  • MechalemmiwinksMechalemmiwinks Registered User
    edited December 2010
    It makes...little sense that any Norse god would be black. I don't think this is really a conservative/liberal issue, even if conservatives have a problem with it. I'm not really conservative, but I like works that stick to the format.

    But, on the other hand, these mythological beings often do things like turn into horses and impregnate things that are sometimes not other horses. I know, I'm getting my pantheons mixed up here, but you get what I mean; we can't decide that this black God isn't just being black because he feels like it.

  • Captain CarrotCaptain Carrot Harrisonburg, VARegistered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Take the X-Men. Storm's African heritage is important to her character and understanding how she views herself. Similarly, Nightcrawler is a German Catholic, and that's pretty fundamental to who he is. Cyclops, on the other hand, could be pretty much anything, because his storylines and development focus on his father and brother, and his relationship with Jean Grey, and not cultural or religious stuff.

    Edit: basically what I'm saying is that the Marvel Norse Gods don't actually derive their identities from looking like Scandinavians.

  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Modern Man wrote: »
    Some roles are limited to a certain race (Othello needs to be black, or at least the opposite race from the rest of the cast, for the play to make sense). For others, it's irrelevant (does M from James Band have to be white, or male, for the movie to make sense?)

    No they don't. You just need to be told that the actor is playing a race. Do you really think that the play going on in front of you is something that is actually happening? No, of course not. So why is it important that the color of a person's skin matches the role that they are playing. Obviously it would help if Othello is played by a black actor, because it will aid in the suspension of disbelief, but it is not a necessity.

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  • Brian888Brian888 Registered User
    edited December 2010
    Modern Man wrote: »
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Wtf is with all these Norse gods with British accents?!
    British accents are used to denote power and respectability.

    The nobles on HBO's series Rome all spoke with Brit accents, for example.


    One of those cast members mused in a behind-the-scenes interview that it's very fortunate that Americans are happy with British accents standing in for all manners of foreign accents. Because really, who the hell knows what the Romans actually sounded like?

  • Premier kakosPremier kakos Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited December 2010
    So, I don't frankly give a shit, however it should be noted that Heimdall is known as the "white god" and is described as the "whitest of the Aesir". Whether they are using the color white as a metaphor for purity or being literal, who knows. But that is a bit weird.

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  • Descendant XDescendant X Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    For the record, Ryan Reynolds would make an awesome version of Tchalla.

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  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    FroThulhu wrote: »
    Yes, you are wrong about the essential points of the topic.
    D'oh.

    Updating.

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

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  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Remind me again why we are discussing a statement put out by the more socially respectable sibling of the KKK again?

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  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Podly wrote: »
    Modern Man wrote: »
    Some roles are limited to a certain race (Othello needs to be black, or at least the opposite race from the rest of the cast, for the play to make sense). For others, it's irrelevant (does M from James Band have to be white, or male, for the movie to make sense?)

    No they don't. You just need to be told that the actor is playing a race. Do you really think that the play going on in front of you is something that is actually happening? No, of course not. So why is it important that the color of a person's skin matches the role that they are playing. Obviously it would help if Othello is played by a black actor, because it will aid in the suspension of disbelief, but it is not a necessity.

    When a central part of the story is a characters race is helps if the person playing the character is actually that race.

    GI Jane wouldn't work so well if Jane was played by Jean Claude Van Dam.

    sig.jpg
  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Brian888 wrote: »
    Modern Man wrote: »
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Wtf is with all these Norse gods with British accents?!
    British accents are used to denote power and respectability.

    The nobles on HBO's series Rome all spoke with Brit accents, for example.


    One of those cast members mused in a behind-the-scenes interview that it's very fortunate that Americans are happy with British accents standing in for all manners of foreign accents. Because really, who the hell knows what the Romans actually sounded like?

    probably like Italians :P

    or closer to modern Italian than English for sure :P

  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    It makes...little sense that any Norse god would be black. I don't think this is really a conservative/liberal issue, even if conservatives have a problem with it. I'm not really conservative, but I like works that stick to the format.

    But, on the other hand, these mythological beings often do things like turn into horses and impregnate things that are sometimes not other horses. I know, I'm getting my pantheons mixed up here, but you get what I mean; we can't decide that this black God isn't just being black because he feels like it.
    They're not Norse gods. They're people that the Norse considered to be gods. At least, that's the Marvel mythos these days.

    As comic book continuity goes, it's pretty logical.

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  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Remind me again why we are discussing a statement put out by the more socially respectable sibling of the KKK again?

    Mostly b/c it's about comics.


    COMICS!

  • Brian888Brian888 Registered User
    edited December 2010
    So, I don't frankly give a shit, however it should be noted that Heimdall is known as the "white god" and is described as the "whitest of the Aesir". Whether they are using the color white as a metaphor for purity or being literal, who knows. But that is a bit weird.


    Perhaps. Then again, Gandalf wasn't actually grey, and Saruman's title had nothing to do with his skin color (and Tolkien was HEAVILY steeped in the tropes of old Nordic mythology).

  • SenjutsuSenjutsu fiddy too Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    So, I don't frankly give a shit, however it should be noted that Heimdall is known as the "white god" and is described as the "whitest of the Aesir". Whether they are using the color white as a metaphor for purity or being literal, who knows. But that is a bit weird.

    Thor is also noted as 'not a super hero' and 'not australian'

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  • kaliyamakaliyama Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Whether the character is fictional doesn't really impact the appropriateness of the casting choice. Willard White sang the role of a white Leslie Groves in John Adams' 2004 Doctor Atomic and did an amazing job. I'm fine with color-blind casting. The classic example is Othello, and my litmus test for people advocating color-blind casting is whether they're OK with a white guy playing the role.

    Race is a big part of a character's identity at times. Whether unexpected racial casting choices break suspension of disbelief is pretty production-specific. I don't think there's an argument against it here.

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  • Brian888Brian888 Registered User
    edited December 2010
    Brian888 wrote: »
    Modern Man wrote: »
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Wtf is with all these Norse gods with British accents?!
    British accents are used to denote power and respectability.

    The nobles on HBO's series Rome all spoke with Brit accents, for example.


    One of those cast members mused in a behind-the-scenes interview that it's very fortunate that Americans are happy with British accents standing in for all manners of foreign accents. Because really, who the hell knows what the Romans actually sounded like?

    probably like Italians :P

    or closer to modern Italian than English for sure :P


    Considering that modern English don't sound anything like they did as recently as 400 to 500 years ago, it's a fair bet that the Romans might not have sounded Italian.

  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Let's get started on the Sandman movie, see how many racist Greek groups start bitching that Morpheus is emo-pale white, tribal-African black, and a cat all at the same time.

  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Podly wrote: »
    Modern Man wrote: »
    Some roles are limited to a certain race (Othello needs to be black, or at least the opposite race from the rest of the cast, for the play to make sense). For others, it's irrelevant (does M from James Band have to be white, or male, for the movie to make sense?)

    No they don't. You just need to be told that the actor is playing a race. Do you really think that the play going on in front of you is something that is actually happening? No, of course not. So why is it important that the color of a person's skin matches the role that they are playing. Obviously it would help if Othello is played by a black actor, because it will aid in the suspension of disbelief, but it is not a necessity.

    When a central part of the story is a characters race is helps if the person playing the character is actually that race.

    GI Jane wouldn't work so well if Jane was played by Jean Claude Van Dam.

    Perhaps if Jean-Claude Van Damme gave the performance of his life, or, rather, the performance of a much better actor's life, it would work well. Perhaps not as well, but it could work.

    But that is an extreme example. In the case of this movie, it's just a silly thing to get worked up about.

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  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    Podly wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    Modern Man wrote: »
    Some roles are limited to a certain race (Othello needs to be black, or at least the opposite race from the rest of the cast, for the play to make sense). For others, it's irrelevant (does M from James Band have to be white, or male, for the movie to make sense?)

    No they don't. You just need to be told that the actor is playing a race. Do you really think that the play going on in front of you is something that is actually happening? No, of course not. So why is it important that the color of a person's skin matches the role that they are playing. Obviously it would help if Othello is played by a black actor, because it will aid in the suspension of disbelief, but it is not a necessity.

    When a central part of the story is a characters race is helps if the person playing the character is actually that race.

    GI Jane wouldn't work so well if Jane was played by Jean Claude Van Dam.

    Perhaps if Jean-Claude Van Damme gave the performance of his life, or, rather, the performance of a much better actor's life, it would work well. Perhaps not as well, but it could work.

    But that is an extreme example. In the case of this movie, it's just a silly thing to get worked up about.

    Of course its silly in this movie, but you did bring up Othello and thats sort of ridiculous.

    sig.jpg
  • XehalusXehalus Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    If they changed Nick Fury to a black guy, and the Green Lantern crew has a black guy... why would I care about fake Norse mythology?

  • OptimusZedOptimusZed Registered User regular
    edited December 2010
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Remind me again why we are discussing a statement put out by the more socially respectable sibling of the KKK again?

    Mostly b/c it's about comics.


    COMICS!
    donald_glover_spider-man_photoshop_01.jpg

    We're reading Rifts. You should too. You know you want to. On Hiatus!

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