Character race changes

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An example of how not to change a character's race.

Race changing in movies and television shows (also known as "whitewashing", "blackwashing", "racebending", etc.) is a controversial practice where actors of a certain race are cast to play characters of a completely different race, with the intent usually being "diversity", to make the characters more "relatable" or for casting a more famous actor. While the idea isn't inherently bad, the problem is that most of these cases shown below are obviously only done for the sake of "diversity".

Examples

  • Gods of Egypt - A film loosely based on Egyptian myths, most of the major roles are played by white actors, with actors of Middle Eastern or African descent relegated to bit parts; the director Alex Proyas later apologized for this.
  • Aloha - Emma Stone plays the role of Alison Ng, who is of partial Chinese and Indigenous Hawaiian descent.
  • Batman (1989) - Billy Dee Williams plays Harvey Dent/Two Face, who is white in the comics.
  • The Batman (2022) - African-American actors Jeffrey Wright and Zoe Kravitz portray Commissioner Jim Gordon and Catwoman, who are originally white.
  • The Flash (2022) - Latino-American actress, Sasha Calle, portrays Kara Zor-El/ Supergirl, who is an American. Spanish actress, Maribel Verdu portrays Nora Allen, who is white.
  • The Last Airbender - In M. Night Shyamalan's adaptation of the hit Nickelodeon animated series, the main protagonists are played by white actors, with Asian actors relegated to minor roles. On the flip side, the Fire Nation, the antagonists, are almost entirely played by actors of Indian and Arab descent.
  • Artemis Fowl - In the science fantasy adventure film, actress Lara McDonnell plays Captain Holly Short, who was portrayed in the book series as having "nut-brown skin" of a "coffee complexion" (also described as "dark" and "coffee-colored" in a scene set in a spa in the short story The Seventh Dwarf).
  • The 33 - In the historical drama based on a true story, Juliette Binoche plays Chilean woman Maria Segovia.
  • Exodus: Gods and Kings - A retelling of the Exodus story, white actors such as Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton play the roles of Hebrew and Egyptian characters, with Arab and African actors playing small parts like thieves and slaves.
  • Pan - A retelling of Peter Pan, white actress Rooney Mara plays Tiger Lily, a character traditionally depicted as being of Indigenous American descent.
  • The Lone Ranger - Johnny Depp plays the role of Tonto, the title character's Native American sidekick.
  • The Castle of Fu Manchu - British actor Christopher Lee plays the title character, who is Chinese.
  • The Conqueror - John Wayne plays the role of Genghis Khan.
  • Dragonball: Evolution - The role of Son Goku, a character traditionally seen as Asian (although originally an alien), is played by white Canadian actor Justin Chatwin.
  • Death Note - The protagonist was renamed from Light Yagami to Light Turner and the setting was changed from Tokyo to Seattle. Even L Lawliet, who is 3-quarters Caucasian & 1-quarter Japanese in the original manga and anime, is played by black actor Lakeith Stanfield.
  • Deadpool 2 - African-American actress, Zazie Baetz portrays Domino, who is white.
  • Daredevil (2003) - African American actor, Michael Clarke Duncan plays Wilson Fisk/The Kingpin, who is generally depicted in the source material as white.
  • Ghost in the Shell (2017) - Scarlett Johansson plays Major Motoko Kusanagi, who is generally depicted in the source material as Japanese.
  • Annihilation - Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh, both of whom are of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, play characters who, in the original novel the film was adapted from, are of Asian and half-Native American descent, respectively.
  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: South Korean actor, Lee Byung-Hun portrays Storm Shadow, who is Japanese along with his younger actor, Brandon Soo Hoo, who is American-Chinese.
  • Harley Quinn (2019) - The Queen of Fables and Catwoman were originally white are changed into African Americans.
  • Warm Bodies - White American actress Analeigh Tipton plays Nora, who is depicted in the original book as half-Ethiopian.
  • Argo - In the political thriller film based on a true story, actor Ben Affleck plays Tony Mendez, a CIA technical operations officer of Mexican descent.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness - In the science-fiction film, actor Benedict Cumberbatch plays the villain Khan Noonien Singh, who is of Indian descent. In his previous cinematic and television appearances (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and "Space Seed"), the character was portrayed by Ricardo Montalbán, a Mexican actor of European descent.
  • Dr. No - In the first James Bond film, the titular main villain Julius No, a half-German half-Chinese scientist, is played by Jewish-Canadian actor Joseph Wiseman, while Miss Taro, another character of Asian descent, is played by white British actress Zena Marshall.
    • In the Daniel Craig films, Felix Leiter, who has always been white (in the novels, he's described as a blonde-haired Texan), is played by the African-American Jeffrey Wright. He had also been played by another African-American actor, Bernie Casey in 1983's Never Say Never Again, though that movie is considered non-canonical to the rest of the Bond series.
  • Venom - The film's main antagonist Carlton Drake, who is Caucasian in the comics, is played by British-Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed.
  • The Social Network - Biracial English actor Max Minghella plays the ConnectU co-founder Divya Narendra, who is of Indian descent.
  • The Martian - In the science fiction film based on the 2011 novel, actress Mackenzie Davis plays Mission Control satellite planner Mindy Park. Another character from the book, Venkat Kapoor, who is of Hindu descent, also became Vincent Kapoor in the film and is played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, a British actor of Nigerian descent.
  • Black Butler (2014) - Most of the characters who are British in the original work are played by mostly Japanese actors, with Caucasian actors playing minor roles.
  • The Little Mermaid (upcoming) - In the remake of the Disney adaptation of a Danish fairy tale, the red-haired Ariel is replaced by black actress Halle Bailey.
  • The Flash (2014) - Changed Iris West, generally depicted as a brown-haired Caucasian into a black character played by Candice Patton (which another African-American actress, Kiersey Clemons would portrayed in Justice League) Changed Wally West, generally depicted as a red-haired Caucasian, into a black character played by Keiynan Lonsdale, although this is based on his appearance in the New 52 comics. Changed Girder, generally depicted as an african american, into a white character played by Greg Finley. Changed Bart Allen/Impulse, generally depicted as a brown hair American, into a black character played by Jordan Fisher.
  • Attack on Titan: Parts 1 and 2 - In the 2-part Japanese live-action film adaptation of the hit manga & anime of the same name, all of the characters (excluding Mikasa Ackerman) are played by an all Japanese cast when most of the characters in the original story are of White Caucasian descent.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist (2017) - In the Japanese film adaptation of the anime, the entire European cast is played by mostly Japanese actors, notably actor Ryosuke Yamada portraying the main protagonist Edward Elric, who in the source material is a Caucasian European with Persian ancestry.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - Max Dillon/Electro is depicted as white, turned into an African-American, played by Jamie Foxx.
  • Jigoku Shoujo (2020) - Japanese-American actress Tina Tamashiro plays the titular antagonist Enma Ai, who is a pureblood Japanese of Ainu ancestry in the original anime.
  • Krypton (2018) Changed General Zod, generally depicted as white into a black British character played by Colin Salmon.
  • The Promised Neverland (2020) - Japanese actors play the entire cast who are all white Caucasian Europeans, with Japanese-Taiwanese actress Naomi Watanabe playing Krone, who is African-American in the original work.
  • Titans (2018) - Changed Starfire and her Tamaranian species, generally depicted as orange-skinned aliens with Asian features, into black people with Starfire played by Anna Diop. Changed Garfield Logan/Beast Boy, generally depicted as white then green skinned, into half-japanese played by Ryan Potter. Changed Tim Drake, generally depicted as an american, into an african american played by Jay Lycurgo. Changed Rose and Joe Wilson generally depicted as an American into an American-Chinese played by actress Chelsea Zhang and Chella Man.
  • Supergirl (2016) - Changed Jimmy Olsen, generally depicted as a red-haired Caucasian, into a black character played by Mehcad Brooks. Changed Manchester Black, generally depicted as purple-haired British, into a black english character played by David Ajala. Changed Hank Henshaw/ Cyborg Superman, generally depicted as white, into a black British character played by David Harewood.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe - In Doctor Strange, the Ancient One is depicted as Celtic rather than Tibetan, which resulted in controversy, though Marvel Studios CEO Kevin Feige explained that "I think if you look at some of the early incarnations of the Ancient One in the comics, they are what we would consider today to be quite, sort of, stereotypical. They don't hold up to what would work today."
    • Another example is in the Thor films, where the character of Heimdall is depicted as black rather than white. Idris Elba himself commented on how this race change was fine, compared to Ben Kingsley as Gandhi (even though Kingsley is of Indian descent) and Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra (even though Cleopatra was ethnically Greek).
    • Nick Fury is portrayed by African-American actor Samuel L. Jackson, though this depiction is based on Fury's incarnation in the Ultimate Marvel comics, where he was reimagined as an African-American resembling the latter.
    • The character of Michelle "MJ" Jones, who is based on Spider-Man's red-haired love interest Mary Jane Watson, is played by biracial actress Zendaya.
    • Flash Thompson, who is traditionally white, is portrayed by Tony Revolori, an actor of Guatemalan descent.
    • Liz Allen, who is traditionally white, is portrayed by Laura Harrier, who is of African-American descent.
    • Ben Urich, who is white, is portrayed by African American actor, Vondie Curtis-Hall in Daredevil (tv series)
  • The New Mutants - Henry Zaga, a white Brazilian actor of predominantly Italian descent, plays Sunspot (real name: Roberto da Costa), who was Afro-Brazilian in the original comics. Alice Braga, another white Brazilian, plays Cecilia Reyes, who was Afro-Puerto Rican in the original comics.
  • Gotham- BD Wong, an American actor with Chinese descent plays Professor Hugo Strange who is more of a British descent.
  • A Wrinkle in Time (2018) - Meg, who is white in the book, is black in this movie.
  • Fantastic Four (2015) - Michael B. Jordan's casting as the Human Torch led to controversy, especially considering how his sister, Sue Storm/ Invisible Woman is still played by a white actress with their father, Franklin, also played by an african american actor, Reg E. Cathey.
  • Carrie (2002) - Sue Snell (who is usually depicted as Caucasian) is played by a black actress, Kandyse McClure.
  • The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Ford Prefect, who is an alien with the appearance of a white Englishman, is played by the African-American Mos Def. Meanwhile, Trillian, who is described in the book as "dark-skinned and vaguely Arabic" is played by Zooey Deschanel. In the television version, she was played by the blonde American Sandra Dickinson.
  • Drive - Irene was a Hispanic woman named Irina in the novel. In the film, she's played by Carey Mulligan.
  • Hellboy (2019) - Alice Monaghan was a white red-haired Irish woman in the comics; in the film she's a British woman portrayed by African-American actress Sasha Lane.
  • Max Payne - Jim Brauvera, a middle-aged white man in the games, is played by the rapper Ludacris in the film.
  • The Bonfire of the Vanities - in the novel, Judge Leonard White was a white Jewish man. In the film, he's played by Morgan Freeman to counter criticisms that the book was racist due to the absence of positive black characters (ignoring the fact that everyone in the story is amoral and self-serving).
  • Much Ado About Nothing - Kenneth Branagh's 1993 film adaptation inexplicably cast Denzel Washington as Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon, with Keanu Reeves as his half-brother Don John.
  • Robin Hood - The BBC series cast David Harewood as "Brother Tuck in its final season, while the 2018 film cast Jamie Foxx as Little John.
  • Wild Wild West - Will Smith stars as Jim West, who was played by Robert Conrad in the original television series, while Kenneth Branagh plays Doctor Loveless, who was a Spanish dwarf in the series.
  • Spawn - Terry Fitzgerald, Al Simmons' best friend before his death, is black in the comics. In the film, he is white, portrayed by D. B. Sweeney. Todd McFarlane explained that this change was made by the studio to avoid having too many black leads, as they believed this would give the false impression that film's target audience was the African American demographic.

Comments


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LancedSoul

9 months ago
Score 0
I'm working on Pan 2015 film on my sandbox.
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CarlFilip19

6 months ago
Score 0
sings "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
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Declan Kearns

2 months ago
Score 3
You know I am a guy who does not give a damn about race changes (most of the time). I only judge an actor according to his or her talent.
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MarioMario456

one month ago
Score 2
Hunt SJWs and tell all of them to STOP CHANGING OUR GAMES AND MOVIES!
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Agent Joestar

one month ago
Score 2
I've seen people on Twitter raceswap characters (including Asian characters) by changing their races to black
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Spidey McFly

27 days ago
Score 1
Am I the only one who doesn’t give a crap about race changes?
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TehGamerOne18

24 days ago
Score 2
If they do it for “representation” then that’s kinda pandering
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COMICSDUDE1245

23 days ago
Score 4
i mean why is it called races? WE ARE ALL HUMAN BEINGS there should be no differences between fucking humans
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Agent Joestar

17 days ago
Score 0
Does anyone have any advice on how to have representation in a work without pandering to SJWs
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Trevor807

16 days ago
Score 2
The best way is to not make a big fuss over it in the story. Just treat it like a normal thing. And only cast actors based on how they act, not on their gender or the color of their skin.
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Obi-Wan Skywalker86

5 days ago
Score 0
How about Mileena in MK Movie (2021)? In games, she was white. In this movie this year, she was somehow black or brown.

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