CBR regularly covers the highlights from the world cosplay, but few tales capture the importance of both the hobby and of the visibility of non-white heroes in general better than an anecdote recently posted by Batman cosplayer Charles Conley on his Facebook page.
The 25-year-old prop maker and cosplayer recounted his encounter with a five- or six-year old boy, a PoC, on the floor of Dragon Con in Atlanta. Conley was fully suited-up in his Bat-armor, but what really got the the boy excited was seeing that Batman had the same color skin as he had.
Conley goes on to repeat what that young superhero fan said to him – "You're brown, just like me! Does that mean that I can be a real superhero someday too? I don't see a lot of brown superheroes..."
In response the cosplayer said, "I looked this kid dead in the eye and said 'you can be any superhero you want to be and don’t ever let anyone tell you different. Being a brown superhero is a very special thing, and I know you’re going to make a great one.'"
Conley then concluded his post saying, "for kids like this little boy, the idea that you can one day be a superhero, no matter what your skin color is, opens up a whole new world for them. This is why I cosplay. This is why I'm The Batman. #RepresentationMatters"
When interviewed for The Huffington Post about both his experience and the vital need of seeing people of color as heroes, Conley repeated his point, saying, "There are not very many heroes of color in the mainstream world, and kids ― contrary to what you may believe ― see that and take it to heart… It's so very important to let them know they have just as much opportunity to be one of these great superheroes."
He also added, "I'm not cosplaying 'Black' Batman. I am Batman. It's not who I am underneath but what I do that defines me… I am Batman today because I don’t ever what any kids to feel what I used to feel. I want them to know that there is hope… [that] everyone has the opportunity to be a hero."
Something to think about when you pick up the next superhero reboot or browse the latest movie casting news.