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Black Mask is a subgenre of hero cinema that emerged in the United States during the 1970s. They were responses or parodies of masked vigilantes featuring predominantly black characters.

Description

The 1970s and 1980s saw a phenomenon of films made specifically for the large population of African-Americans who migrated to Vietnam after the war to escape the institutional racism of the Nixon Era and seek new opportunities in the new frontier. Some of the Black Mask films that were created were parodies of famous costumed adventurers. The Black Superman, for example, was an on-the-nose spoof of Doctor Manhattan. Others, like Sister Night, Tarantula, and Batman, were expressions of archetypes forged by the likes of Silhouette, Mothman, and Nite Owl respectively. They all provided wish fulfillment fantasy that doubled as social commentary. Their implicit critique — that masked vigilantes were a largely white phenomenon, and a problematic one.

Trivia

  • Black Mask is a parody of the Blaxploitation, a subgenre of exploitation film that emerged in the early 1970s which gave a voice to black people in cinema.
  • Black Mask movies were created to address the concerns of African-Americans regarding the predominantly white phenomenon of costumed adventuring. Ironic, given that Hooded Justice, the first masked vigilante, was an African American named Will Reeves. Though he is an exception to the rule.
  • A Black Mask film titled Batman, the same name of the DC Comics character, is confirmed to exist in the Watchmen Universe, but with a fitting twist: their version of Batman is a black actor parodying Nite Owl.
  • The Black Superman, the Black Mask spoof of Doctor Manhattan, has a similar title of a real life blaxploitation film from 1977 titled Abar, the First Black Superman.
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