‘Raising Dion’ promises a fresh take on origin stories.
This past summer, Spider-Man: Homecoming swung into theaters and laid claim to the MCU’s diverse-casting crown — at least on the big screen. Homecoming filled Peter Parker’s Queens New York neighborhood with a mix of black and brown faces representative of the real Queens New York. Sadly, when it comes to pushing casting boundaries in comic book movies, Homecoming has little competition. It’s odd how a genre that revels in the magical, the fantastic, and the surreal, mostly sticks to the same old origin story templates told from the same old white male perspective. Netflix has their sights set on addressing both these issues.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix has given a 10-episode straight-to-series order to Raising Dion. The hour-long sci-fi drama will adapt Dennis Liu’s comic book and short film by the same name. The series tells the story of a single black mother who discovers her son has “multiple and constantly changing abilities,” or to put it plainly: Superpowers.
The big news here is that Michael B. Jordan is attached as an executive producer and as a member of the cast. He’ll collaborate with Liu who is set to executive produce and direct. Carol Barbee, who wrote the short film adaptation will serve as executive producer and showrunner.
Here’s the rundown straight from Netflix:
The series follows the story of a woman named Nicole Reese, who raises her son Dion after the death of her husband Mark (Jordan). The normal dramas of raising a son as a single mom are amplified when Dion starts to manifest several magical, superhero-like abilities. Nicole must now keep her son’s gifts secret with the help of Mark’s best friend Pat, and protect Dion from antagonists out to exploit him while figuring out the origin of his abilities. The ten-episode series will premiere on Netflix in more than 190 countries around the world.
There’s one quote in the press release that stood out. It came from Netflix’s VP of Original Content, Cindy Holland.
“We haven’t seen this type of superhero story before — an origin myth full of imagination, wonder and adventure, all grounded in the experiences of a modern single mother. Michael B. Jordan is an exciting and dynamic talent, and I’m excited to see him, Macro, Carol and the team translate Dennis’ unique vision to television.”
Grounded in the experiences of a modern single mother…
I love Spider-Man: Homecoming. I love that it’s bursting with heart. I love that the school’s detention room has pictures of James Baldwin and Frederick Douglass on the walls. I especially love that Homecoming populates its world with brown-skinned best friends, bullies, and love interests. But at the end of the day, it still boils down to a story about a white dude fighting bad guys. I can’t overstate how excited I am to see Netflix take the live-action superhero genre in a fresh direction.
Comic book movies have only delivered on a fraction of their storytelling potential. In 2015, Tom King launched his comic book series, ‘Vision.’ The series is a family drama about sentient android, The Vision (played by Paul Bettany in the MCU), who in his quest to be human, creates an android family and moves out to the burbs to live the American dream. In King’s series, superhero escapades are a day job and the drama comes from the soap opera style family dynamics — imagine The Avengers meets Desperate Housewives. In the current comic book movie landscape, it’s difficult to en”vision” this type of subtle, complex, and tragic storytelling adapted into a live-action movie.
Raising Dion isn’t about tracking down Infinity Gems, fighting Parademons, or halting Chitauri invasions; it’s about a single mother trying to protect the most precious person in her world. Exploring this story from an African American perspective makes this series even less conventional. There is no guarantee Raising Dion will be a great series or even a good one, but it already hold’s more intrigue than the dozens of films filling out Warner Bros. and Marvel’s release slates.