Superhero stories are traditionally about defeating villains, foiling outsized plots, then whooshing off in triumph. The genre has excelled at big wish-fulfillment metaphors about empowering marginalized people, from awkward, bullied teenagers like Peter Parker to the ever-evolving X-Men, whose persecution has made them stand-ins for everything from AIDS patients to gay kids. But dealing with racism is harder. The push for social realism in 1970s comics led to some heavy-handed moralizing, and while more recent titles like G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel have dealt with racial tension in a natural narrative way, they’re still rare compared to hero stories that would rather trade strictly in fantasy face-offs. Superheroes are fearless about defeating evil scientists and planet-eating aliens. Confronted with systemic injustice, the genre reacts as if it’s been exposed to a fiendish variety of red kryptonite that forces it to scurry off to the nearest beach and bury its head in the sand. Sundance TV’s Australian superhero series Cleverman, now in its second season, is a striking exception. The show is set in a near-future where a group of indigenous Australians known as the Hairypeople have just revealed themselves to the world. Hairypeople are, as the name suggests, covered in… Read full this story
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