Martha Washington = Rosario Dawson?

Little known fact about Afrobella – I grew up reading comic books. Avidly. It started with Archie (which for some insane reason was super popular in my primary school days), and when I was a bit older I graduated to REAL comics. And graphic novels. The kind of subject matter a twelve year old probably shouldn’t have been reading because it’s so dark and gritty and graphic.

I’ve fallen out of the habit, but every time I hear about a comic book being made into a film, my ears perk up. So when I read about a possible feature film starring Frank Miller’s comic book character Martha Washington coming to life, I got excited.

From the Wikipedia page, by way of introduction:

Born in 1995, Martha Washington grew up in the Cabrini-Green housing project in Chicago (called “The Green”) with her mother and two brothers in abject poverty brought on by the economic policies of the President Erwin Rexall. She is an average student, but one who displays a gift for computer programming and hacking.
Her teacher, Donald, encourages her to be a better student and, because he lives outside the Green, brings her contraband items. One night Martha shows up at Donald’s classroom and finds that he’s been murdered by the Ice Man, a large thug who works for a local gangster called the Pope. Before dying, Donald managed to stab the Ice Man in the wrist. This distraction allowed Martha to seize his weapon, a longshoreman’s hook, and plunge it into his shoulder. The Ice Man chases her through the school to a locker room, but before he can kill her, he dies of blood loss. Martha is later remanded to a psychiatric hospital.
In the institution, she discovers that experiments are being secretly performed on children to genetically alter their minds, effectively turning them into human computers. Their heads are covered with wires plugged into their brains. Martha believes one of them resembles the Raggedy Ann doll she played with as a child. This institution is closed due to national budget cuts, and Martha is left homeless. She later joins the PAX Peace Force, where her heroic tale begins.

Read more here on MTV.com.

Martha Washington is a badass, and an anomaly in the comic book world.

Then I read more at Comic Book Movie, and was kinda disappointed:

“Dave Gibbons has told Digital Spy that Frank Miller’s favorite actress to play Ms. Washington is the phenomenally hot Rosario Dawson. Gibbons, who worked on the graphic novel series with comics writer and filmmaker Frank Miller, told DS that Dawson would be an ideal actress for the eponymous character, a woman who enlists in a reinvented version of the US Army.

“I know a great favorite of Frank Miller’s is Rosario Dawson, who was in Sin City and has been in some other things,” Gibbons said.

“Her name is not seriously in anybody’s frame but I do think that it would be a wonderful part for an actress because she is a very strong character.”"

Sigh.

I’m gonna need central casting to try harder.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Rosario Dawson. She’s stunning, strong, and generally seems like the kind of actress who’d be cool to hang with in real life. Plus she genuinely seems to be interested in the world of comic books and the men who love them (as per her roles in Clerks 2 and Sin City). But in some images, Martha looks more like an Alek Wek, Grace Jones type of woman with strong, indubitably black features. I just can’t look at the images of Martha Washington as she’s been drawn, and see Rosario filling out that role.

Comments on Superhero Hype provided some brilliant alternative suggestions — Taraji P. Henson, for one. Young up and comer Keke Palmer for an even more impressive #2.

But when it comes to Hollywood, it isn’t necessarily about who’s got the acting chops. It’s about who’s got the box office mojo to make for a big opening weekend. So in the meantime, we’ll just have to wait and see.

For more on black comic book heroines, check out the following links:

Africomics

Wikipedia’s page on the portrayal of black people in comic books

Blacksuperhero.com

DarkFantasy’s article about Deconstructing Black Superheroes.

Click here to buy The Life And Times Of Martha Washington In The Twenty-First Century

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the character, but I’d love to hear your suggestions for the role of Martha Washington! Either way, I’ll be watching!

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Comments

  1. I am not familiar with Martha Washington but want to be. Do you know where I can pick up her comics?

  2. You can order Martha Washington GNs from the Dark Horse website:

    http://www.darkhorse.com/Search/martha+washington

    If you’d like to read a snippet of the series before buying it, I have a few pages posted on my site:

    http://www.digitalfemme.com/journal/index.php?itemid=1083

  3. What about the girl with braids from that vampire cable show….True Blood? – she was in a recent step/dance movie and has toughness and grace.

  4. @Renee

    The Martha Washington comics are published by Dark Horse Comics and I think there’s a collected edition now.

    My casting choice would be Aisha Hinds. I see her, I see Martha.

  5. I like Rosario but she is all wrong for MARTHA WASHINGTON. I would rather see India.Arie play her before Rosario. Let me guess, his second choice would be Zoe Saldana? I hate clap on-clap off Ethnics…

    My choices would be either Jazz Raycole or Nzinga Blake

  6. Camille in Slovenia says:

    I am all for Aisha Hinds for this role. She is fierce and can do the damn thing.

  7. Pets:

    Rutina Wesley is the woman from True Blood, and I agree, she’d be a great pick…she’s a real bad ass! …see more about her on iMDB: http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3237644544/nm2179180

  8. I like that KeKe Palmer suggestion. Well, I’ll wait and see.

  9. Ironic that I just picked up a copy of Happy Birthday, Martha Washington. at a flea market over the weekend for a dollar. I also loved comics as a child, but struggled to find a heroine I could relate to. My solution; I wrote my own. Check out my comic book CocoGunbun at Angry Viking Press. It’s about a black girl with natural hair, who works in a salon and fights crime in the evenings.

  10. Excellent piece.

    Yup. Hollywood does have a bad case of “acceptable blackness-itis”.

    I think Keke Palmer would do the damn thing and is more than dues a star vehicle for her age and proven talents.

    But I cannot fault Rosario if she goes for it and does it.

    Even with her racially ambiguity (to Hollywood types) she’s not getting a flood of roles. She’s gotta take what she can get.

    I blame the system, not her.

  11. I totally agree with DCMovieGirl. Hollywood tends to lean towards a certain kind of black woman to play their lead roles. They’re either racially ambiguous or a well-established face. They’re a little more adventurous when casting supporting roles, but not starring roles.

    Aisha + Rutina = great idea. I wonder what hairstyle Rosario would rock in the movie… Anyway, you never know. There’s still a chance someone else might get cast.

  12. Nicole Beharie from American Violet. I was blown away by her performance. She’s the real thing!

  13. @mellowyel

    “They’re either racially ambiguous or a well-established face.”

    I disagree with the second part.

    I’ll just say the less acceptable-looking (dark-skinned nappy hair) well-established faces don’t get cast in lead roles.

    Buddy cop? Lawyer? Judge? Any “strong” older supporting character guaranteed to never ever have sex?

    Yes.

  14. There’s still the fear that mainstream consumers won’t buy anything with a black woman’s face attached. Well, except O Magazine. And nearly every drugstore cosmetic line. Sigh.

  15. Voidindigo1 says:

    It’s got to be Jada Pinkett Smith or I won’t watch it. She’s PERFECT for the role. Read the books and you’ll see.

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