It was previously announced that Atlanta star Zazie Beetz is going to play Domino in Deadpool 2, but a couple of days ago, the first image of her as the character surfaced on Ryan Reynolds’ Twitter account- and people got to talking. As I read the comments, I found myself enraged. Of course came the usual nitpickers complaining about Zazie’s lack of a resemblance to the comic book Domino, and there were many others who were OK with how she looked. Well…OK with everything except her hair. I saw many people comment on how it looked “stupid” or commented on how she looked like she was a time traveler from the seventies, and some even commented that no one they know wears their hair “like that”. I guess they don’t know too many people then. I’ve known a few- which includes myself.
In the comic books, Domino is often portrayed as pale white with a black patch around her eye. Her hair is pitch black and sleek. Zazie Beetz is apparently the opposite of the comic portrayal- and many fans are not OK with it. However, under the Disney acquisition, Marvel has proven a great track record of its casting. I remember my father’s disbelief at the announcement of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, and the great outcry when Tilda Swinton was chosen as the Ancient One in Dr. Strange (The Ancient One, I’m aware is a very different scenario). In the past couple of years, Marvel has pulled the race switch on a multitude of its characters. Such examples are Idris Elba as Heimdall and the newly christened Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie in Thor, the above mentioned Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One, Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury, and the change of infamous bully Flash- now played by Tony Revolori in Spiderman Homecoming.
Based on the previous casting changes, why should this one be so different? The creators of the Deadpool film did a tremendous job in accurately portraying the renowned Merc With a Mouth onscreen, so why is there cause for concern? Is it a racial bias towards the casting? Maybe. I do appreciate Marvel’s often race-blind and diverse casting and trust their judgement. They haven’t really gone wrong is the past couple of years.
As for the hair, it’s fine. We need more portrayals of natural hair in the mainstream media. The backlash towards Zazie’s hair is a reason why many Black women perm their hair and hide underneath false tresses. Natural hair is labeled as unkempt, unprofessional, and distracting. What does Zazie’s hair have to do with her ability to perform a role? That’s why it’s called acting!
I admire Zazie for leaving her hair as is, and never changing it. While she’s hardly the first full natural-haired woman in a film, it’s really exciting to see someone with hair like mine in a major blockbuster. At the the site of the first image, I found myself elated for a new costume idea, and I’m sure many other young women will too.
Cheers to Deadpool! Looking forward to it!
ADRIANA, THE CINEMA SOLOIST