Michael B. Jordan’s upcoming African fantasy film is the adaptation this genre needs


Michael B. Jordan is set to adapt the novel Black Leopard, Red Wolf with Warner Bros. The novel, drawn from African mythology, is a fresh update the genre could use.

The fantasy film genre is finally getting a long-overdue update with the help of Michael B. Jordan. In a genre that heavily features white actors in its films (and books), Jordan is all set to adapt the novel Black Leopard, Red Wolf — a story set in Africa.

As Variety reports, Jordan’s company Outlier Society is working with Warner Bros. to produce the Marlon James novel. Surprisingly, Jordan must have been closely watching the book, because it came out just two days ago. Though, there was a lot of buzz around this book before it was published, as the author called it the “African Game of Thrones.” James later claimed he was just joking. But with Game of Thrones’ success, you’d be amiss to pass up adapting something even close to that idea.

While the movie is still in early developments and there’s no planned release date so far, there’s a lot to learn about the plot of the movie from the novel itself.

The book’s synopsis reads as follows:

"In the stunning first novel in Marlon James’s Dark Star trilogy, myth, fantasy, and history come together to explore what happens when a mercenary is hired to find a missing child…Drawing from African history and mythology and his own rich imagination, Marlon James has written a novel unlike anything that’s come before it: a saga of breathtaking adventure that’s also an ambitious, involving read."

Yes, if you read the synopsis, this is the first installment in a trilogy of books set to be put out by James. That means: one, more black fantasy novels in the future and, two, (potentially) more black fantasy films. As most book-to-movie adaptations go, filmmakers aim to adapt the whole series. So if all goes well, we could indeed get three full movies out of Jordan’s studio.

Of course, that’s all dependent on the success of the first movie, or else it could end up like Sony’s failed Mortal Instruments series. But really, that should be no problem, since there’s a huge need Jordan is filling by producing this film.

For the longest, media has been obsessed with mythology from European cultures, such as Greek and Latin mythology, and even Norse. But as I’ve watched those movies and TV shows, I always asked myself, “Where are the stories from African mythology?” It’s a huge land (a continent, to be specific) that has many stories to tell.

Yes, at the tip of the African-mythology iceberg is Egypt mythology, which sometimes gets explored in media (with cheesy movies like The Mummy, nonetheless). But there’s so much more than that.

In elementary school, for example, I remember reading the Anansi the Spider trickster stories from Akan folklore, for instance. We even went to see an Anansi play produced by a local theater company. Perhaps we were introduced to the stories because my school was in a predominantly African-American area, but these stories don’t and shouldn’t have to be limited to black communities. Just as the stories of Zeus and Athena or Thor and Odin are exciting and interesting everyone, so are the rich tales that come from Africa.

On top of that, there’s always the added bonus of representation in film, which still has a long way to go. Yes, we did have Black Panther, which Jordan starred in. But one film is never enough to showcase all that there is to see about one large continent.

As many people are hoping, Black Panther will be just the beginning of a long line of movies showcasing diverse people, stories, and lands. And with Jordan’s commitment to diversity and making a film like Black Leopard, Red Wolf, I’m sure the future of fantasy films will be a lot more diverse.

Books and film are just the first stops to diversifying fantasy. I’m hoping video games are the next medium to get into telling stories from the many countries of Africa (that don’t involve terrorism or Indiana Jones-style adventures through “exotic” lands).

If we could get a God of War-like game that focuses on African folklore, then we’ll be in business. Can somebody check if Michael B. Jordan’s down to make video games, too?

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