EW looks back at the very limited history of Black women with super powers at age 50 and beyond.

By Nick Romano
April 22, 2021 at 02:23 PM EDT
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Whoopi Goldberg wants to introduce an older Black female superhero into the world, which would be a much-needed addition to a very short list of such characters.

The EGOT winner, 65, revealed in a recent interview with Variety that she's writing up her own script for a movie about an older Black woman who acquires superpowers and has to learn how to use them.

"Since I was a little kid, I've been obsessed with superheroes," the actress and cohost of The View said. "They're all saving the earth all the time. But do you know who's really going to save the earth? Old Black women."

Watchmen; Whoopi Goldberg; Storm
Credit: Mark Hill/HBO;Larry Busacca/Getty Images; Marvel Comics

Goldberg is coming off of playing Mother Abagail Freemantle in the Stephen King-based series The Stand. She's not a superhero but does come with her own supernatural abilities. Goldberg is also voicing the role of Poundcakes in the Marvel comics-based M.O.D.O.K. animated series on Hulu, but there are very few superhero roles generally for older women of color.

Many actresses have spoken about the lack of roles for women once they reach a certain age in the Hollywood business, and those roles are even fewer for Black actresses and actresses of color. Goldberg is hoping to add to the quite short list of Black female superheroes out there who count themselves in the 50-and-above age group.

EW compiled a list of Black female characters with super powers that have either been introduced in their 50s (give or take a few years) or whose stories continued into their 50s and beyond. Yes, it's a short list.

Storm X-Men Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

Storm

Storm, one of the original members of the X-Men, has been around in Marvel comics for decades. Her age is pretty cloudy, though it's clear she's a leader and one of the most powerful mutants on the planet with the ability to command weather. Hollywood, however, has done the character dirty over the years. Halle Berry played Storm in the first live-action X-Men movie, released in 2000. Perhaps it was the lack of CG capabilities of the time, but the character was nowhere near as formidable as she is in the comics. The casting of Berry also stirred up some controversy surrounding colorism. Storm in the comics has much darker skin than Berry's, reflecting her African origins as a kid pickpocket on the streets of Cairo. Later, the role in the movie franchise was recast with Alexandra Shipp, another Black actress with lighter skin, for the prequel films. 

Vixen
Credit: DC Comics

Vixen

Another hero who's been active on comic book pages for years is Vixen, this character hailing from the realm of DC. Using the power of the magical family heirloom that dangles from her neck, Vixen is able to channel the abilities of various animals — the speed of a cheetah, the strength of an elephant, the flight of a hawk, etc. She first appeared in Action Comics #521 in 1981, but these days she's been portrayed on screen in the CW's Arrowverse by the younger Maisie Richardson-Sellers. Megalyn Echikunwoke voiced her in the CW's Vixen web series. 

Okoye
Credit: Marvel Comics

Okoye

As Ayo said on Disney+'s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the Dora Milaje have jurisdiction wherever the Dora Milaje find themselves to be! Okoye is now the most famous Dora Milaje, thanks to Danai Gurira's performance in Black Panther and the Avengers films. As part of the elite group of female warriors who dedicate their lives to protecting the king and royal family of Wakanda, Okoye wields a vibranium spear and is skilled in martial arts. For the record, Gurira is 43, though Okoye has a long history in Marvel comics as someone who was chosen at a young age to join the Dora ranks. 

Watchmen
Credit: Mark Hill/HBO

Angela Abar

All hail to the King... Regina King, that is. The Oscar winner won her fourth Emmy for portraying Angela Abar in HBO's Watchmen, which is set after the events of the original Alan Moore comics. As a detective forced to wear a mask in the field to hide her identity in a world where a domestic terrorist group of white supremacists, the Seventh Kavalry, assassinates police, Angela assumes the identity of Sister Night. You don't want to find yourselves on the opposing team once she and her brass knuckles enter the arena. King was in her 40s when she filmed this role, and now that she's racked up much awards recognition as both an actress and a director (for One Night in Miami...), Hollywood better pay her her dues. 

Fast Color
Credit: Everett Collection

Bo

An underrated cinematic gem, Fast Color, sees a young woman named Ruth (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) with the supernatural ability to disintegrate objects and reassemble them, in addition to being able to see what is referred to as "the colors." Her mother, Bo (Lorraine Toussaint), has the same gift. They aren't superheroes in the traditional sense, but they could be considered that way.  

THUNDER FORCE
Credit: HOPPER STONE/NETFLIX

Emily Stanton

Now Emily is a superhero in the traditional sense. In the movie Thunder Force, now streaming on Netflix, she develops a serum that grants superpowers to ordinary individuals in order to combat criminals who've become supervillains after developing powers. Octavia Spencer, 50, stars as Emily opposite Melissa McCarthy as Lydia, her comrade in arms and a childhood best friend. But Thunder Force is a comedy, which isn't a crime, but it does speak to the lack of older women in more dramatic action-oriented roles. 

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