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She first rose to fame as a Grammy-nominated recording artist, but Janelle Monae is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after acting talents in Hollywood. In fact, at her current rate, she has a closer chance to securing a part in the Marvel movies than ever before, but as whom is the question.
It was actually not until 2020 when the 34-year-old Kansas City, Kansas, native (born Janelle Monáe Robinson) landed her first leading roles on both the small and big screens as the central protagonist for Season 2 of Homecoming on Amazon Prime and in the mind-bending, politically charged thriller Antebellum. This, however, came after several years of experience, such as in her 2014 film debut voicing a veterinarian in Rio 2, 2016’s Academy Award-nominated Hidden Figures and Moonlight (the latter of which won Best Picture), and a supporting role in the 2019 Harriet Tubman biopic opposite fellow musician-turned-actress Cynthia Erivo.
While she was once considered to be a frontrunner for the part of Domino in Deadpool 2 before ultimately going to Zazie Beetz and for Black Canary in Birds of Prey, which went to Jurnee Smollett, Janelle Monae has yet to officially earn the comic book movie glory she is clearly interested in obtaining. On the plus side, that gives us plenty of time speculate which characters in the Marvel Universe she would be a great candidate to bring to life on the big screen. Six notable heroes come to mind, starting with one who has shares similar talents Monae.
The history of this mutant vigilante is an intriguing one, as she was created to double as a regular fictional character in the comics and a pop star portrayed by an actress in real life. While Dazzler’s concert tour never took off in reality, her singing career did become a staple of the Marvel Universe, in addition to fighting alongside the X-Men with her ability to convert light into sonic energy. While Janelle Monae clearly has the pipes to take on the role already, as she was previously rumored to play the traditionally white Black Canary and racially undefined Domino (each cast by black actresses in the end anyway), I do not see why she should not be considered for Dazzler either.
Another mutant who has been known to sing a tune in the Marvel Universe (specifically in Earth-20051) is Sofia Sanduval, who is best known as the enthusiastic girlfriend of that reality’s version of Peter Parker and for her ability to communicate with animals, earning her the alias Chat when fighting crime. Seeing Sofia in a relationship with Tom Holland’s Spider-Man does not seem likely, especially if played by Janelle Monae (unless an inter-dimensional crossover of different Spidey iterations in the MCU would finally happen). However, this Dr. Dolittle-esque character is so funny and wholesome that at least paying some tribute to her in the MCU would be quite endearing.
It would be ill-fitting to use the word “funny and wholesome” to describe this mutant hero, who was actually an ally to Apocalypse and Magneto before joining the X-Men. Joanna Cargill suffered a rough childhood due to racial oppression and the abuse of her military veteran father, whom she killed in self-defense as a teenager after her superhuman abilities finally kicked-in, which she would then use as an unstoppable freelance mercenary under the name Frenzy. Introducing this warrior woman would not only be another great opportunity for socially conscious commentary in the MCU, but could also redeem Janelle Monae from her previous military-based character, GI Julie in Robert Zemeckis’ critically maligned fact-based dramedy Welcome to Marwen.
To continue the inclusion of X-Men characters who have been involved in battles against Apocalypse while also dialing back on characters with a musical background, Roxanne Washington was born from hip-hop power couple Roy "Daddy Libido" Washington and Angel "Sexy Mutha" Depres, but instead of becoming the next big hitmaker, she decided to pursue perfecting her mutant abilities as the Xavier Institute. While “Bling!” does also sound like a great rapper name, it actually refers to Roxanne’s crystalline skin, due to her bone marrow’s ability to produce diamond shards which also grant her superhuman strength and durability. In addition to bearing a striking appearance to previous X-Men movie characters, Bling! would be yet another great vessel for representation as an LBGTQ+ superhero, which the openly pansexual Janelle Monae can also relate to.
I imagine Janelle Monae would be especially game to play a character with deadly hand-to-hand combat skills, a fiercely unapologetic attitude, and a costume that gives new meaning to the phrase “if looks could kill.” One Marvelous anti-hero who is defined by all of that is Elektra Natchios, an expert assassin whose romantic attraction to the equally skilled Matt Murdock is often challenged by her willingness to get the job done with murder. As much as I would love to see Élodie Yung, along with Charlie Cox, reprise said roles from Netflix’s Daredevil in a proper MCU movie appearance, I feel the characters are more likely to be recast before that would happen and, if so, Monae gets my vote, particularly for letting out her darker side in more recent roles.
Despite all of her previous attention for comic book dream casting, the one character whom Janelle Monae has personally expressed the most interest in playing is Ororo Munroe, better known as the thunderous Storm. Reaction to her campaign for the role, previously portrayed by Halle Berry and Alexandra Shipp in live action adaptations, has been widely accepting, such as from one internet artist whose fan art imagines Monae as Storm with Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa in a Black Panther sequel. The recent, untimely death of Boseman may prevent that specific depiction from becoming a reality, but the MCU should have room for the actress to live land her dream role for its long-anticipated reboot of the X-Men.
What do you think? Is Janelle Monae ready to don a cape (or not) and save the world or do you believe she is best when she is onstage or in the recording studio? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for additional information and updates on the singer-songwriter’s skyrocketing acting career, as well as even more hypothetical comic book movie casting calls, here on CinemaBlend.