In reading about stereotypes and images presented for Africana people, my mind came to thinking about where I’ve seen these “roles” played out in contemporary settings. One of the first things that came to mind was the role of the sidekick. In the popular movie universe by Marvel, both main heroes are white men. Tony Stark and Steve Rogers both also have a sidekick who often fights alongside them. For Tony Stark, this is Colonel James Rhodes. For Steve Rogers, this is Sam Wilson. In this case, the sidekick is a somewhat snarky yet loyal companion to the main hero. Seeing this format played out twice in one franchise makes me wonder if this is a sort of role that’s been placed on the protagonist black man in media. The black man is present, and even if he’s good, he’s still nothing more than the side character to a white man. The production and release of ‘Black Panther’ was a revolutionary movie that pushed against this idea, and may open up avenues for popular media to be more equal.
Another role that is common is one half of the buddy cop movie dynamic. In just about any instance of this dynamic, an Africana character is the deviant of the situation. Either they’re rough, violent, rule-breakers, or lackadaisical in their actions. Although they’re often in search of justice or upholding the law, their methods are a mix comedy and violence that seem to be less common when applied to white buddy cop characters. While one instance is a character, this common form generates a trend and strengthens the notion that black men are more violent or angry. These two roles stuck out to me in particular due to Marvel’s popularity, as well as how often I’ve seen cop movies in the past.