Black History Month: Film and TV Spotlight

by Tito W. James

With every year that passes I see a growth in racial representation within Geek and creative culture. We’re seeing Black faces and voices within video games, books, film, anime, comics, and cartoons. In addition to diversity, we’re seeing variety within the kinds of stories being told. It’s great to see representation within the realms of fantasy and adventure. What’s most exciting is the prospect of entertainment featuring complex Black men and women with something for every age. Representation matters and we will doubtlessly feel the effects in years to come. The following is by no means a complete list but merely a highlight reel to inspire those who are looking for great stories with Black characters.

Film and TV

The Tragedy of Macbeth


Denzel Washington shines as Shakespeare’s famous anti-hero in The Tragedy of Macbeth. A24 has become a studio known for it’s “arthouse” interpretations of fantastic fiction. Much like the Green Knight, there are creative casting choices and purposeful attention to shot composition. The Tragedy of Macbeth utilizes a neo-noir aesthetic that only enhances the atmosphere of unease and the mythic quality of the narrative. 

The Harder They Fall


The Harder They Fall directed by Jeymes Samuel is a refreshing remix of the western genre inspired by real Black gunslingers from American history. When an outlaw Nat love (Jonathan Majors) discovers his enemy, Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) is being released from prison, he reunites his gang to seek revenge. The Harder They Fall is like a spiritual successor to Django Unchained, filled with over-the-top blood, sharp dialogue, and anachronistic music. The colorful costumes complement the larger than life characters and vibrant vitality of Samuel’s unique vision.



Yasuke is an anime inspired by history’s first Black samurai and developed by Black creators and a Japanese anime studio. Creator LeSean Thomas (Cannon Busters) takes us to a science fantasy alternate history of Japan filled with mechs, magic,  and mythology. Anime legend Takeshi Koike (Redline) lends his talents to character design, creating not only a striking vision of Yasuke himself but a motley cast of supporting characters and dastardly villains. Musician Flying Lotus delivers a spectacularly hypnotic musical score– played on the synthesizers used in the original Bladerunner. Yasuke has been nominated by the NAACP Image Awards in the Outstanding Animated Series category. The Yasuke anime is a testament to the power of cross-cultural collaboration and a huge step forward in the representation of Black characters in anime.


In Castlevania, a trio of vampire hunters fight to save a besieged land from an army of otherworldly creatures controlled by Dracula. Castlevania has garnered much praise as an imaginative horror fantasy and a killer video game adaptation. When Isaac was introduced in Castlevania’s second season, he quickly grew into a breakout character. Isaac’s counterintuitive relationship with humanity and his eventual character growth into a leader of night creatures made him one of the most complex and surprising characters in the entire series.




Arcane is an animated Event series set within the universe of League of Legends. The series as a whole is a game-changer and sets a new standard of quality for adult animation and the genres of science fiction and fantasy. It’s so exciting to have a series this amazing have several standout black characters. Ekko, Sevika, Mel and Ambessa Medarda are phenomenal and make for some of the most memorable moments in the series. Each character fits within a morally grey zone that allows the audience to root for their success but question their motivations. This is the kind of nuanced, riveting character writing more shows (animated or otherwise) should aspire to.

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