Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

William Jackson Harper is appropriately Clark Kent-ish about your Superman campaign

Jimmy Kimmel, William Jackson Harper
Jimmy Kimmel, William Jackson Harper
Screenshot: Jimmy Kimmel Live

Appearing remotely on Tuesday’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Underground Railroad star William Jackson Harper settled into his at-home comfy interview chair to answer the one question currently burning up the internet: Has he ever employed a pet psychic? But we kid the former The Good Place Emmy nominee and guy currently walking past a billboard of himself in Times Square every day. (The answer to that is, yes, by the way, as the actor noted that this terrible year has been especially hard on his dog, Chico, whose lockdown anxiety attacks were, indeed, alleviated by an over-the-phone dog psychic. Get well, Chico.)

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Kimmel, however, was more interested in the online groundswell of enthusiasm for the idea of Harper taking on one of the most iconic roles in this or any other universe. With the recent revelation that acclaimed author, activist, and comics nerd Ta-Nehisi Coats is penning a Superman movie in which the iconic superheroic embodiment of truth, justice, and the American way would be a Black man, the internet (apart from the predictable freakout from aggrieved white boys) quickly boosted Harper’s name to the top of the casting list. “That would be dope,” a surprised Harper told Kimmel, asking with appropriate aw-shucks Smallville humility, “What? Why? Who knows me?”

Well, tens of thousands of already amped-up comics fans, to name but some, with Kimmel tossing the Underground Railroad star his own enthusiastic support. Now, there’s been a precedent in this sort of thing before, with online fans’ similar grass-roots campaign for Donald Glover to be the new Spider-Man eventually coming to naught (but for a cheeky Community reference and a consolation supporting role in Spider-Man: Homecoming). But the difference here is that the whole Black Superman thing is actually in the works, so let’s check out Harper’s résumé. As Kimmel noted, The Good Place showed that Harper can already rock a pair of horn-rims, Superman alter-ego Clark Kent’s chosen form of disguise. And, if you recall, the unassumingly heroic Chidi saved all of humanity more than once, so there’s some sense memory for Harper to draw from.

Plus, as the bookish but secretly jacked Chidi Anagonye revealed, Harper is—or at least is capable of being—in action figure shape. Sure, Harper said he wouldn’t be crazy about the superhero franchise-mandated diet and exercise regimen, but we know he’s more than capable of pulling a Kumail for the right role. And, hey, while Superman’s super-pooch Krypto isn’t psychic in the comics (the very good boy only has all of Superman’s powers), Chico’s right there in case Coates and Warner Brothers are looking for a team-up. Some casting just feels right.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.