Static Shock is arguably one of the most recognizable characters from Milestone Comics. From the hit comic series to the hit cartoon series that ran from 2000-2004 he’s been a favorite for many fans. He not only starred in his own series but he’s appeared in Justice League Unlimited and even Batman Beyond. Most recently he was a regular character in Young Justice: Invasion that jumps the story five years ahead after the end of the first season.
So, as you can see, Static has maintained a certain level of popularity since his first comic appearance in 1993. When the characters in the Dakotaverse merged with the DCU back in the Milestone Forever series we saw him featured prominently throughout as a member of the Teen Titans. Fast forward to the New 52 and Static receives his own series, however, due to internal issues, a lackluster storyline (clone sisters?), and weak villains, it was soon cancelled after only eight issues. And while a few other characters with cancelled books have popped up in other New 52 titles (or had their titles relaunched) here and there, we haven’t heard a peep from or about Static Shock.
That is, up until now. With this being the era of multi million dollar comic book films along with various comic based television shows and some going directly to digital streaming it seems the time was perfect for Warner Bros. to announce that a live action version of Static Shock will be coming out of it’s Blue Ribbon Content digital division.
The only name that is officially attached to the project is Reginald Hudlin. A name well known in both comics and Hollywood but especially with his affiliation with Milestone and their creators. This is probably the best news to come out of this so early and for several reasons. Hudlin isn’t some random name that was picked from a hat. He has a history with the Milestone creators and the world they made that was years ahead of it’s time. This connection should help bring a pure interpretation of the character rather than something put together with assumptions and stereotypes. He even wrote the forward in the Icon: A Hero’s Welcome tpb which even mentioned him wanting to make a feature film based on that character. I highly suggest going here and reading it for yourself. Once you’ve finished, maybe you’ll understand why his involvement in the Static Shock project eases my mind. It also shows a level of commitment and passion for how these characters are presented to the public. Barring a lot of corporate interference and “tweaking” they’ll let him create something that is familiar, yet different with Static but also remain true to the character and what has made him so great.
Most of what Virgil Hawkins a great character comes from his family dynamic and to be very honest, Hollywood hasn’t done well with representing African American families in television shows/movies for some time. Falling back on lazy storytelling and relying on negative stereotypes to appease certain demographics isn’t what’s going to cut it with a character like this. Nor should it for any ethnic character on the large or small screen. Virgil comes from a two parent home, has a normal love/hate relationship with his sister and is a HUGE comic book geek. The representation of him as a comic fan/geek/fanboy is actually more true than ANYTHING that has been portrayed for a character of any race. His school issues are pretty normal as he’s trying to date, deal with bigotry, bullying, homophobia, other social issues, along with the occasional super powered criminal showing up in Dakota.
Hudlin’s involvement should deter much of the negative representation from happening or at least happening without the balance that usually gets lost when there is a predominantly ethnic cast. Much of Static’s story contained heart and personality to go along with the action and that is one of the key factors that hopefully will be maintained in this series. One thing that was very prevalent in those Milestone stories was that characters who were usually ostracized from mainstream comics or stripped down just enough to be slightly non offensive were given their respect and just due. They also weren’t used as marketing schemes to get you to buy their stories either. Black, Asian, Latino, and LGBT characters were in the forefront in many stories while being represented with dignity and they were just plain cool. That spirit of representation needs to carry over along with telling a great story for anyone who watches.
The only other name that’s been mentioned in association with this is the rumor that Warner Bros. is eyeing Jaden Smith to play the lead role. This might cause eye rolls and plenty of snark from some but if this is verified then I just hope he’s got what it takes to bring Virgil Hawkins/Static Shock to life. If this turns out to be a fact then it wouldn’t hurt for him to read all 45 issues of the comic or just grab the Rebirth of the Cool trade for some research.
The fact that this is even happening is quite a big deal and long overdue. If the live action Static Shock series is a success then it just might open the doors for characters like Icon, Rocket, Hardware, and others from the Milestone Universe.
Now, over twenty years later, maybe the world has finally caught up and is ready for the stories Milestone was already telling before it became popular to do so.