Why Zazie Beetz is Primed to Succeed as Domino

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Earlier this week, I tweeted a list of heroine/villainesses that I was looking forward to seeing in live-action comic-related roles. The idea behind my list was simple; I wanted to create a little discussion about the upcoming bombardment of female excellence in major comic roles. As one would expect, Domino was on the list of heroines I’m looking forward to seeing. Before I explain why, it helps to backtrack a little and explain some other things.

We try our best to be aware of things here at The Marvel Report, and it’s fairly common for writers to turn down assignments because we think a different voice would be more appropriate. When it came time for me to write this article, I’ll admit that I was a bit apprehensive because part of my reasoning had to do with her racial makeup. Because of my love for the character and the fact that this was going to be filled with compliments, I figured it could have a place in productive conversation about diversifying superhero roles in Hollywood.

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Casting choices are a tricky thing for movies. The right choice can be the difference between the movie working and the movie failing. But in today’s politically charged world, it’s also imperative that movie companies cast with diversity and cultural awareness. This brings us to Zazie Beetz and the announcement that she would be playing Domino in the upcoming Deadpool 2 movie. For this particular character, producers were looking for an actress that was specifically black or Latina, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Hollywood is rife with superhero movies, but Wonder Woman is still the first movie in the new era of superhero movies to feature a female as the lead. Think about that for a second — it took until 2017 for Hollywood to cast a female as the lead in a series of movies about a superhero, and DC beat Marvel to it. While both companies are very much on the front lines of progress, there is still work to be done in the superhero genre and Zazie Beetz will be a part of the stable of women who tear down these walls and prove that women can not only lead a project of this magnitude, but that their stories can be every bit as interesting, moving, thought-provoking, and entertaining as their male counterparts.

Deadpool is a different type of character and maybe outside of Shiklah, Domino is the most interesting character in the Deadpool series. Aside from having a bit of Scarlet Witch-type abilities by being able to change the luck of events surrounding her and others, Domino is very much a headstrong woman, who doesn’t need the aid of a man to kick some ass. In fact, men usually get in the way when Domino goes to work.

Zazie Beetz has already shown her lighter side in shows like Atlanta and Easy, but both of these endeavors also showcase her range of emotions. Easy is basically a show about life, sex, and interpersonal relationships. At its very core, Easy is a microcosm of events and situations we deal with on a regular basis. Atlanta is about the mending of relationships and personal growth. In both shows — though to a much lesser degree on Easy — Beetz brings to life those emotions and events in ways viewers can relate to and understand.

People see comic book movies as simplistic and sometimes even a little childish. Unless an individual grew up reading comics, they would be forgiven for not knowing that comics deal with political and social commentary often far before other mediums of a similar variety chime in on those same subjects. Whether it’s race, sexuality, or the registration of different types of people, comics have always had a way of couching political commentary within the fun and the action. This is part of the reason why it’s so important the casting choices are as diverse as the comics themselves.

Beetz, Brie Larson (Captain Marvel), Evangeline Lilly (Wasp), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones), Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch), Cate Blanchett (Hela) and Melissa Benoist (Supergirl) all represent the future of females in leading roles, but Beetz is the only black woman among them. That will change slightly with the release of Black Panther in 2018 by Marvel, but roles are few and movies are being churned out by the dozens.

I don’t live in a world where my race is underrepresented on the big screen. I don’t live in a world where I struggle to find heroes who look like me, talk like me, and act like me. I definitely don’t live in a world where I can’t find a movie with a superhero that has a background similar to mine. To that end, I can’t imagine how rewarding it must be for Beetz to land this role and for the black community to see one of their land such an important role in a franchise that is just getting started, and is poised to lead the next generation of mutants on the big screen.

Of course I am excited for Domino because she is Domino. I do not hide my love of female protagonists and I think that many of them dominate the scenes/pages they share with their male counterpart. Even if you set aside the diversity for a second, Domino is an incredible force to be reckoned with and one of the most popular characters in the Deadpool universe. That we now get to see her actually steal scenes on the big screen is amazing.

But there is something very important about the way this role was cast. There is something very important for people of color to look up and see one of their own dominating in a way that they’ve longed to see since Black Panther made his initial appearance in Civil War. One could make a cheesy joke about Beetz being the next domino to fall into place for diversity in comic movies, but that would just be lame. This is an important role to have been cast and everybody involved believes that Beetz is the right choice for the role, which is just as important.

Beetz is cultured, having grown up in Berlin and speaking three different languages according to her bio; German, English, and French. Being well-traveled and familiar with other cultures is critical for blending into your surroundings as a mercenary. Beetz won’t have to pretend to be worldly, she already is and has the language background to prove it. A relative newcomer to Hollywood, Beetz has the added advantage of being able to define herself rather than having been defined by her roles. Whatever life Beetz breathes into Domino, it will the immediate standard for the character & lack of preconceived notions will really help the common audience accept the role for what it is rather than trying to typecast her from previous roles.

Beetz will be buried under a stack of Marvel comics if she isn’t already. Once she gets that delivery from Marvel, she will, if she doesn’t already, begin to understand just how layered of a character Domino can be and how many different ways she can approach the role. Her skillset is definitely suited to the role and her time on Atlanta will have her prepared to dig deep into her bag of acting tricks. Beyond that, Beetz also speaks three different languages fluently and that helps when you’re trying to kill people for money. I’m looking forward to seeing if the director opts to use the fact that she’s a polyglot to his advantage. Here’s to hoping.

Domino isn’t just another role for Beetz, it’s potentially career-defining. Hugh Jackman made a career of growling and spreading his hands into fists. Chris Evans went from being a joker to one of the most serious characters in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Chadwick Boseman will don the mantle of one of the most iconic black superheroes of all-time. Now Zazie Beetz has a chance to etch her name in history with Domino and I, for one, cannot wait to see her create something that is larger than life, inspirational, and ready to kick a little ass on the side.

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