I'd Die Without You: Boomerang's Black Female Superheroes

Curator's Note

A thread from Reginald Hudlin’s classic romantic comedy Boomerang (1992) traces to the rise of Black female superheroes. February 2018 highlighted the apex of Black Superheroes on the silver screen with the premiere of Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther (2018). Black Panther shattered the monolithic portrayal of African women of the diaspora, including images of strength in Okoye (Danai Gurira), wisdom in the Queen Mother, Ramonda (Angela Bassett), heart in Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), and intelligence in Shuri (Letitia Wright).

All of Boomerang’s significant actresses portrayed superheroes. Boomerang stars Robin Givens as Jacqueline and Eddie Murphy as Marcus. Marcus is demoted when Jacqueline assumes his position. His friends, Gerard (David Alan Grier) and Tyler (Martin Lawrence) are continuously awe-struck by his superhuman-like ability to lure women to his bedroom—that is until he meets his female sexual and intellectual equivalent in Jacqueline. Angela (Halle Berry) is Jacqueline’s art director and sidekick. Lela Rochon (Christie) has a small but memorable cameo as the beautiful woman who Marcus sleeps with only to be turned off by the appearance of her feet. The cast is rounded out by Lady Eloise (Eartha Kitt), the original Catwoman, and Strangé (Grace Jones). Lady Eloise employs her distinct, sultry purr to sleep with Marcus. Strangé, brand ambassador for Lady Eloise, overtly sells sex. Jones previously played the female fighter Zula in Conan the Destroyer (1984).

The screen time allotted Robin Givens, Halle Berry, and Lela Rochon is indicative of their 1992-star power. Givens had recently completed a successful 114 episodes on the television series Head of Class (1986-1991) before securing the lead role in Boomerang. Berry was known for her reoccurring role as Emily Franklin on the short-lived television series Living Dolls (1989). Rochon’s star was on the rise after having guest starred on Amen, 21 Jump Street, 227, and in the unforgettable role of Sunshine in Harlem Nights (1989). Beginning in the mid-90’s these women appeared as Black Superheroes. Givens played Kimberly Jonz, the Vicky Vale-type reporter, and love interest in Blankman (1994). Rochon played Vanessa the Pretty Nurse in The Meteor Man (1993). Berry won the role of Ororo Munroe/Storm in X-Men (2000), which she followed up with the title role of Catwoman (2004). Rochon is rumored to reprise her role as Christie in the announced reboot Boomeranged. Givens recently portrayed Sierra McCoy in Riverdale (2016).




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