STACK spoke with the star of Spawn and Black Dynamite, Michael Jai White, ahead of his appearance at Supanova’s Gold Coast event this weekend.
Which films do fans ask you about the most at conventions?
People always ask me about a Spawn 2, and to that I say it’s up to Sony, who I believe has the rights to the movie. They’ve talked about it for some 20 odd years, but I’m not sure what the status is. There was some talk from [Spawn creator] Todd McFarlane recently – I guess he has an idea for the next movie, but sometimes talk is talk. I’d be interested to see what becomes of it. To make a movie like that you’ve got to have some serious money and power behind you, so I wish Todd the best of luck – he has a big mountain to climb.
The concept could work really well. I think the way to do it is the way the comic book is written. Dark superheroes have been well received, and Spawn has to be the darkest of all of them.
Spawn was also one of the first black superheroes; you were breaking new ground decades before Black Panther came along…
Black Panther is so rich in action and culture and presented an amazing world. I think that’s what makes it so unique and such a powerful film.
You started out with a couple of Toxic Avenger movies for Troma in 1989 – what are your memories of those days?
I have great memories from the Troma days. They were really fun movies and Troma was a great family to belong to at the time. They had their own unique style and it was a really fun beginning to my movie career. I look back on it very fondly.
Black Dynamite was a thoroughly retro homage to the Blaxploitation movies of the 1970s. Is Blaxploitation a term that can still be used today?
Back in the day there was a movie called Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song , and when that movie hit, it showed there was great affection from a black audience seeing themselves in uplifting, positive and strong roles. I believe Black Panther has done that for today’s audiences.
Sweet Sweetback spawned a great deal of movies like it that uplifted black people. They were great action movies, like Shaft. That wasn’t written as a black movie, it was written white. Sweetback showed that black audiences loved the movie so much that it was profitable for Hollywood. Now, with the success of Black Panther, if they eventually start doing black movies that borrow from Black Panther, and doing a terribly funded rip-off, that would be Blaxploitation again.
You recently worked with director S. Craig Zahler on his new film, Dragged Across Concrete. How did you find the experience?
I absolutely loved working with Zahler, and particularly Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn and Tory Kittles. They were such a blast to work with. I play a supporting character named Biscuit. I’m looking forward to seeing this movie; I’ve been a big fan of Zahler since I first saw Bone Tomahawk; I don’t think anyone is making movies like him right now. You can never tell what direction things are headed in Zahler’s films and I was honoured to be a part of this one.
• You can meet Michael Jai White at Supanova Comic-Con and Gaming expo at the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre on April 27–29.