The Next Black Action Stars
Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Wesley Snipes.
This is the current list of black action movie stars that have consistently made a name for themselves in the industry. Whether it was fighting aliens in Men in Black & ID4, or slaying vampires as Blade, or gunning down plantation owners, or as The proverbial Equalizer, or having enough of these motherf*@!ing snakes on this mother#@*ing plane, it’s clear that these movie stars have made a name for themselves and cemented their legacy as action movie GOATs. But what of the next cream of the crop? Who got next? Can they live up to these living legends and even surpass them in Black Action Movie Star excellence?
Here is a short list of up and comers and rising stars as it pertains to the next Black Action Star:
Michael B. Jordan: If I had to pick one prospect to take the mantle of biggest, most bankable, and most charismatic Black Action Star, it would be my guy Michael B. Jordan. From his early roles in The Wire, All My Children, and Friday Night Lights, it was clear this young actor’s star was on the rise. But it wasn’t until his breakout performance as Oscar Grant in Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station that people in the industry took note of this fine young man and his dramatic chops. Then there were beefy action leads in Fantastic Four, Creed, & Black Panther and the rest is history. For a time it seemed like he could do no wrong and that's a credit to team Jordan for capitalizing off of his momentum.
Michael B. Jordan has a rare quality of cool and masculine bravado balanced with a respectful humbleness which only makes his stock rise higher. He seems like someone who is genuinely easy to work with yet has an unrivaled intensity in his craft. His physical prowess is there, no doubt (have you seen how ripped he is in Creed II?), but he brings a level of sensitivity to his action film sensibility that is unheard of in a predominantly toxic masculine industry. If Chadwick Boseman were still with us, I’d put him up there with Jordan. But for now, unfortunately, he is at the top of my list for Next Black Action Star.
Jordan’s next upcoming role seems to be great as US Navy Seal John Clark in Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse.
John David Washington: A bit late to the game at 36 but better late than never. Best known as Denzel Washington’s son and as star wide receiver Ricky Jerret in HBO’s Ballers. Washington got more attention after his role in BlacKkKlansman , the dark satirical dramedy from Spike Lee. This should’ve been his year landing the lead role in Christopher Nolan’s much anticipated sci-fi action thriller, Tenet, but COVID-19 had different plans for Washington and everyone in the world for that matter. I didn’t see much potential in him in Ballers, but that had more to do with the writers’ lack of depth for the character. And he did make the most of what he got with that role. But BlacKkKlansman was a game changer for him and even I knew that upon seeing the film.
I still have yet to see Tenet, for fear of going to a movie theater during coronavirus pandemic. But from what I’ve seen in the trailers and the little spoiler free reviews I’ve read online, Washington seems to be a revelation. Considering his family background it’s not too surprising. But what is surprising is how big of a jump Tenet seemed to be from BlacKkKlansman in my eyes, at least. Being cast in a Spike Lee joint is big, but Christopher Nolan? That’s a big whale he landed and it’s a testament to how hot one can be as an actor (momentum wise). The only thing I’m worried about is his physicality. He’s only 5’9” but then again so is Jamie Foxx. And we all know height doesn’t matter to a Mr. Tom Cruise (lol). But as far as Action Film physicality, I’m afraid someone like Michael B. Jordan would win out when it comes down to it.
Daniel Kaluuya: A bit of a wild card here, but I stand by my decision. I originally had Corey Hawkins, O’Shea Jackson, Lakeith Stanfield, or Aldis Hodge to end the list but their relevance all kind of fizzled out after Straight Outta Compton, with the exception of Lakeith who is taking excellent roles but none of them straight up action movies. The same could be said of Kaluuya, who I remember from the stunning Black Mirror episode, but who hasn’t really shown his action film prowess. Sure, he’s shown flashes of it in Sicario or Black Panther but he’s more of a dramatic actor. The sheer menacing intensity of his character in Widows, however, puts him in a distinct category of dynamic range.
I’ll just chalk him up to the next Idris Elba, the current Black Action “British” Star to hold the current mantle. He came into prominence after Jordan Peele’s iconic Get Out, and his star has been on the rise ever since. However, I’m not sure he has the physical fitness of a consistent action star. But then again, there hasn’t been a role he’s taken on yet that would demand such a physical transformation. I’d love to see him as a MMA fighter or something where he would actually need to cut weight. He’s already part of a Marvel franchise so that’s a plus. And I’m genuinely excited to see what roles he chooses next.