Looks like the DC cinematic universe will be expanding their roster of A-list actors. In a slip of information during an interview with Everybody Hates Chris’ Tyler Williams, the eclectic artist Jaden Smith will be taking the mantle of Static Shock. No official word yet on whether the Karate Kid will be making it onto the big screen or leading his own digital series, but the news comes as a refreshing reminder that DC has not forgotten about its underdeveloped black superheroes.
For those who may not about the DC comics’ hero Smith is set to portray, could read up on the character through the comics and animated series. First developed in 1993 by creators Dwayne McDuffie, John Paul Leon, Derek Dingle, Denys Cowan, and Robert L. Washington III, Static was one of the first heroes to come out of Milestone Comics, DC’s brief attempt to incorporate more black heroes and creators. Although the comic series was short-lived, the series was groundbreaking as there were no other comics out that portrayed a majority black cast.
Static Shock can be considered one of DC Comics’ first black teen superheroes. Originally codenamed Static, the series followed the life of an inner-city youth named Virgil Hawkins with the ability of electricity manipulation. Similar to Spider-Man of the Marvel Comics Universe, Virgil was a self-proclaimed nerd with extensive knowledge of science and pop-culture. He would also use witty banter when fighting against his opponents. The Static series eventually met its closing when Milestone went under in 1997. Virgil would eventually transition into the main DC universe as a key member of Teen Titans. It would not be until 2001 that Static would make a reappearance.
Reinvented and named Static Shock, Warner Brothers capitalized on the young teen’s success with Milestone and created a 30-minute Saturday morning cartoon series. Though Smith was not old enough to portray the 14 year-old character at the time, Static Shock would go on to for four seasons on the popular network. Similar to its source material, the show altered the character’s origins and content to make it more appealing to a larger, young audience. Instead of being mutated by genetically altered tear gas during a gang riot, Virgil would be one of several community members affected by a freak accident called ‘The Big Bang’. The series followed Virgil and his best friend Richard Osgood Foley as they battle numerous other ‘bang babies’ and other threats to the city of Dakota.
Although the series received positive reviews and a large following, changing morning culture or youth and WB’s roster ended in the cancellation of the series. Static may have lead his own solo series, he still found a way to make cameos in other DC franchises. Static was featured in episodes of cartoons Justice League Unlimited, Young Justice: Invasion, the movie Justic League: War, and video games Injustice: Gods Among Us and DC Universe Online.
In the fall of 2014, it was later announced that Static would be making his return in a digital animated series. When news first broke of Static’s revival, Jaden Smith was one of the first names mentioned to portray the iconic hero. Though Smith has yet to fully confirm his portrayal of a superhero, other than his affinity for sporting a white Batman uniform at popular functions, Tyler James William’s information slip lets fans know that Smith will be the one to bring Static to life.
By Tyler Cole
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