March 28, 2013

Minorities in cartoons: Amanda Waller

Minorities in cartoons: Amanda Waller

This week’s minorities in cartoons entry is DC Comics’ Amanda Waller. Waller first appeared in “Legends” #1 in November 1986; she was created by writers Len Wein and John Ostrander, as well as artist John Byrne.

Background

As her backstory reveals, Waller was originally from Chicago, where she lived in the (now demolished in real life) Cabrini-Green housing projects. While there, her family fell victim to violence.

Waller eventually got a doctorate and became a political aide. While serving as such, Waller first discovered the existence of (and soon became in charge of) the “Suicide Squad.” The Squad is a top-secret US government group consisting of various super-villains/anti-heroes. Said group performs highly dangerous covert operations for the US government, in exchange for commuted prison sentences.

Waller proved to be both quite strong-minded (one of her nicknames is “The Wall”) and engaged in various morally dubious actions. As a result, Waller has often has clashed with both the Squad’s members and with actual super-heroes, such as Batman.

As “Legends” was DC’s first post-“Crisis on Infinite Earths” big crossover storyline, this makes Waller one of the first post-Crisis continuity characters by a matter of several months.

Waller made it into the “New 52” reboot in 2011. However, with the reboot’s general bias against older characters, Amanda became portrayed as a very slim young woman, to the annoyance of, well, everyone.

Other media

Waller eventually appeared in the 2000s “Justice League” cartoon, where she played a similar role as in the comics. Playing into the above, she’s implied to know Batman’s secret identity. Waller was voiced by C.C.H. Pounder, a Guyana-born actress.

Waller’s also appeared in some other modern productions, including “Smallville” (where she was played by Pam Grier) and the “Green Lantern” movie (where she was played by Angela Bassett).

However, her most prominent live-action role to date is in the 2016 film “Suicide Squad.” Actress Viola Davis played Amanda.

(Updated 11/17/16)

Tags: African-AmericansAmanda Wallercomics triviaDC ComicsJohn ByrneJohn OstranderLen WeinMediaminorities in cartoonsSuicide Squadtrivia