“Cats,” a movie about literal anthropomorphic cats, was not the biggest box office failure of 2019. For all its sprawling, inelegant catastrophes — screaming cockroaches with human faces, last-minute re-edits of alarming “digital fur technology” — the movie’s absolute failure was outpaced by that of “Dark Phoenix,” the final instalment of the “X-Men” franchise, which closed the year with an impressive net loss of $133 million.
Well. The fans have been doing some thinking. And the fans think that, if the movie really did suck, or if nobody bothered to watch it, then all Marvel has to do is infuse the franchise with the magic of modernity, of representation, and a Change.org petition has emerged with assured advice on how to achieve just that: make Dominique Jackson the next Storm.
Watch: Dominique Jackson is pushing for more authentic trans stories. Story continues below.
“Marvel, you have an opportunity to add some much needed diversity to films as well as Hollywood,” the petition reads. “The ‘X-Men’ franchise could be rebooted with new faces that correct Hollywood’s history of racism and transphobia by giving a chance to black trans actors and actresses. Fans of the X-Men’s Storm finally deserve to see an on-screen version of her that matches the strong Black woman leader we grew up with from the comic books.”
As of this writing, the petition is almost at its target of 7,5000 signatures, which makes total sense given Jackson’s beloved place in the culture. In case you’re not familiar with her work, here’s the short: Dominique Jackson is an actress, author, model, and all-around ballroom icon best known for her scene-stealing role as Elektra Abundance on Ryan Murphy’s popular TV series, “Pose.”
The show is set against the 1980s backdrop of New York City’s drag ballroom community, and Jackson is arguably one of the best parts, wearing her elegance and ferociousness like a tight second skin.
Plus, community seems to mean the world to her. She was the grand marshal of the 2019 NYC Pride March. She’s a frequent advocate for social change. She partners with nonprofits that fight for LGBTQ+ folk. At the 23rd annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner, she delivered an indelible speech about trans rights.
“If there’s anyone that could fill Storms [sic] cape it would be Ms. Jackson,” the petition continues. “From fleeing persecution as a transgender woman in her home country of Trinidad to being a pioneer and leader for the Ballroom and LGBTQ community, Ms. Jackson knows what it’s like to feel [like] an outcast, only to find strength in community.”
The petition drew further parallels between Jackson and Storm, making the whole thing seem like the most obvious decision in the world: Jackson commands scenes, like Storm; she delivers strong monologues, like Storm; she has an unbridled fierceness, like Storm. It just ... makes sense.
Storm has previously been played by Halle Berry and Alexandra Shipp, but never by a trans woman. In fact, though X-Men is often read as some metaphor for queerness and oppression — “mutant” outcasts staring down the barrel of systematic rejection and criminalization — Marvel has never had a transgender superhero in the history of its films, though it’s been rumoured that this might be changing very soon. (Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, announced in January that a movie currently in production features a transgender character, though he didn’t specify which.)
Jackson frequently discusses this familiar dichotomy of marginalization and belonging, and in an interview with HuffPost Canada from 2019, she opened up about the continued, brutal murders of trans women in the United States.
“Trans people have been repeatedly told that we don’t have the right to live. And Black people have been told that by our slave masters and continue to be told that by society. We have, generationally, bled this kind of hatred,” said Jackson. “It’s a horrible time for a lot of us. But this is a push for us to be even more resilient. We have to look at it and say, ‘We have to fight for our rights.’”
On Twitter, too, fans are bursting with joy at the thought of Jackson as Storm:
An illustrator from Toronto had already drawn how Jackson might look as Storm:
The petition spread so far and wide that even Jackson herself caught wind of it, and posted a screenshot of it to Instagram, thanking her fans profusely for the support they’ve been showing her.
“It’s not even about if Marvel sees this, but just knowing that you are valued is what is important and makes us all feel human and respected as a part of community and society!” she wrote. “So I implore you, as you uplift and empower me, so should you uplift and empower those around you who worry every day if it could be their last.”
Spoken like a true hero.