Off the top, I want to let you know that your boy, Brutal Ronin as Xbox Live identifies me, been strapping on the MJOLNIR Mark IV armor with the gold visor since Microsoft dropped that first black box in 2001 with the “man grip” controllers. Me and the gawd John-117 been putting Elites (or Sangheili if you really about this Halo canon life) in the ground since before E3 tightened security and you could make up a fake press pass on your Lexmark inkjet and walk your ass through ALL the live demo booths. So, yo, I’m about my Halo, fam. We’ve been teased and tortured with so many tried and failed projects for getting Halo in a live action entity, that over a decade later, I’ve become a bit numb to it. To this day, while I love the movie District 9, it hurts my heart to watch the beautifully animated aliens that were under apartheid knowing that Neil Blomkamp was supposed to use that studio to make MY CONVENANT before the plug got pulled on the Halo Movie.
We’ve been pacified with some pretty good alternatives since. The excellent collaborative Halo Legends animated shorts and the greatness on a budget Forward Unto Dawn live action web-series have either served as a bridge for something bigger or just made us UNSC enlisters hungrier. Either way, through its many trials, we’re finally getting “something bigger” in the Ridley Scott produced Halo: Nightfall. There’s a lot of confusing stuff out there that uses words like “Xbox Live” “subscription” and “Showtime” but here’s what you need to know:
Halo: Nightfall is a live action digital series that will incorporate the origin story of Agent Locke, an important figure and the so-called “mirror Spartan” that will play a large role in the upcoming Halo 5: Guardians being released exclusively on the XBOX One. Oh and he’s also Black. Now look, this doesn’t carry Sam Wilson as Captain America impact or Michael Sam as a St. Louis Ram social relevance. And to be honest, the Halo series isn’t particularly unfriendly to diverse representation either. While there haven’t been a ton of POC characters in the Halo canon, there have been memorable characters such as Major Avery Johnson, Jr from the original trilogy or Emile and Jun from Halo: Reach that have stemmed that tide from ever being problematic or noteworthy of debate (in my eyes anyway). Women have always been part of the storytelling and since romance doesn’t really exist in year 2552, they have always had roles of impact as soldiers or intelligence personnel and not as love interests or bullet fodder to advance a heterosexual male character’s plot. In fact, Christina Chong has already been cast as the female lead in this same project.
Even still, it did make me sit up and pay attention (and of course, write this column) when I discovered that the star of the much hyped live action entry would be actor Mike Colter, who has been seen on The Good Wife and The Following. It says something that this venture, which Microsoft and partners are spending A LOT of money to produce, is comfortable with a Black male lead. It would be awesome (and is possible) that the dynamics of such never entered their mind when casting Colter and they just got who they feel is the right person for the role. At some point, this kind of news won’t be as newsworthy.
Either way, I’m charged up like a plasma pistol about it. And this, my fellow Spartans is what your racist 32-year old friend who’s been reading Fantastic Four since ’84 and doesn’t think Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm makes biological sense will never understand: I was 100% on board with watching whatever Halo media crossed my HUD anyway. But as someone who jumps at the character creator in every game, even when my best choice is a slightly tanned white-skinned character, seeing someone that somewhat resembles you in an entity you love and have invested in heavily for so many years can mean everything sometimes. Now, if they can just give me an on-board A.I. like Cortana, except with a Cuban accent, we’ll be all good.