a journal entry by Joanne C. Hillhouse
So where’s Storm’s movie?
When the possibilities of cinema started catching up with the imaginative wizardry of my beloved X-Men – a series I discovered in my university days – I began to hope that my favourite, Storm, would someday get her own Origins film. Five million Wolverine films later, it hasn’t happened yet. Don’t get me wrong, I dig Wolverine but for the young black woman I was in the early to mid-1990s, Storm was that reflection of self that we look for in our art. Movie Storms have underwhelmed (sorry, Halle) though I blame the writing more than the actors; it’s clear to me that dope as she is – “easily one of the most powerful mutants in the Marvel universe” according to VariantComics, a channel on Youtube which offers as evidence her ability to control the weather “allowing her to cause all sorts of earth-ending destruction if she chooses” and the adaptive nature of her power, meaning that even if she was sent off world, she could control the weather there too, making her talents “basically limitless” – the people behind the films weren’t really checking for her. It was Mystique this, Rogue that, Jean Grey-cum-Phoenix; hell even Kitty Pryde whom I remember as a supporting player back when I read the comics got more of a narrative arc than Storm. Okay, Mystique is interesting and Rogue too, in the comics anyway, but Storm endures in my imagination with her wild white mane and ebony skin. She was a sister. How often do we see those wielding #blackgirlmagic on the big screen.
In general, it’s taken a while to get female superheroes on the big screen where they’re not just serving the men’s stories. One of the reasons I was hyped for Wonder Woman’s success if not hyped about the film itself – it was alright but Wonder Woman’s never really been my super hero, not like Storm – was maybe it would open the way for others on the margins to squeeze through. And, yes, I know I’m mixing my Marvels and DCs but the point remains.
As I write this, Black Panther is hyped to tear through the Box Office, and if you know comic lore, you know that T’Challa and Ororo (i.e. Storm) have history – were legally wed even. The series favours strong women – or so the previews suggest – so it has to happen, right? Right?
But wait I don’t want Storm as a supporter in someone else’s story. I want a Storm: Origins movie. And don’t give me none of that, her history is too thin to rate a movie. One, it’ not true, two, flesh it out. If a Gambit movie and a freaking Multiple Man movie is in the conversation, then Storm certainly can be – and that’s not Gambit shade, I actually am looking forward to a Gambit movie. But not before a movie about the first female superhero of African descent (circa 1975); get in line, Cajun. Jury’s out on Multiple Man.
She's a fighter, a leader, and did I mention she controls the weather?
-Joanne C. Hillhouse
As for Storm, there’s plenty to work with in terms of narrative arc: daughter of African royalty, orphaned traumatically as a child, apprenticed to a master pickpocket, worshipped as a goddess, recruited to the X-Men, rising to a leadership position within the X-Men, and let’s not forget that whole superstar superhero marriage thing. And go! There is source material penned by none other than bestselling African American novelist Eric Jerome Dickey; in fact, his mini-series has been described as Ororo’s origins story.
Storm’s badassery makes her one of the most popular X-Men and superheroes. Period. And we haven’t seen the full range of her awesomeness on screen yet - her regal bearing, her sense of authority, her complexity, her sexiness, her power; all of it. She’s a fighter, a leader, and did I mention she controls the weather? As a Caribbean girl, in the path of hurricanes, and vulnerable to earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, flash flooding, and all kinds of unpredictability, I have much respect for the weather…and she who controls the weather.
Did I also connect with Storm because of her melanin. Well, yes.
The same reason I need a Storm movie is, in some kind of ironic inversion of reality, the same reason I fear she has been so poorly written onscreen – they don’t see her, they don’t see how much she matters to black girls who so rarely see themselves in pop culture and even more rarely in superhero-dom. Because if women are underrepresented, then especially so black women, and especially so black super heroines. Wonder Woman – which centered a woman, Black Panther – which has black people across the globe comic fans and non-comic fans ready to apply for visas to Wakanda – can represent a sea change. The old excuses don’t hold water anymore. These movies do well because the market has been hungry for more diversity. Black films and women led films do travel, if the characters are compelling. It doesn’t get more compelling than Storm. So, as far as a Storm: Origins movie goes, I say, bring it!
About Joanne C. Hillhouse
Writer. Poet. And Island Girl reigning from the islands of Antigua and Barbuda.
Joanne has published six books of her own after diving into a professional writing career in 2003. She's also an editor and passionate writing coach so see her if you need help with your work, you can take a look at her specialties and services here. Joanne also started the Jhohadli Project and the Wadadli Pen; both programs allow her to facilitate writing and creativity workshops, create opportunity and help develop the careers for aspiring writers of Antigua, and support the youth as they dive into their literary and artistic interests.