She’s more adorable than Jennifer Lawrence. She has the all encompassing demographic appeal of Will Smith. She has acting chops to hang with the elites in Hollywood. She also did just win an Oscar for best supporting actress.
So to say that Lupita Nyong’o is the current Hollywood “It” woman is probably an understatement. Her popularity is such that her fans, both the public and her peers, have started placing suggestions on what her next roles should be. One role in particular has gained quite a bit of traction, so much so that an online petition has been created demanding Marvel cast Lupita as Storm in the next X-Men film*.
So, would this be the best move if it were to hypothetically happen?
Since Marvel Comics signed over the film rights to 20th Century Fox, fans have consistently been pointing to whom they feel should play one of the biggest superheroines in comics. Prior to the 2000 film, a majority of the fan support was going towards Iman to play the weather goddess. But when the news hit that Halle Berry had been cast, the comic book fan community was hopeful. That was until the films came out. Now I don’t consider myself a fan of Halle Berry’s, but I can say she did an “ok” job in the role. The problem is, Storm deserves better than just “ok.” And her performance did not improve with subsequent films. And with 2014’s X-Men Days of Future Past rumored to be a type of reboot for the series, the time is ripe for a recasting of the role that never really took off. Enter: Lupita Nyong’o.
Lupita’s performance in 12 Years a Slave was an example of what happens when you give great material to a great actress with classical training. She executed her role flawlessly and her peers agreed. So while I never put much faith in Halle’s acting ability, Lupita inspires me. She has no problem with conveying emotions, as well as being stoic and strong. The latter two are essential if one is to be one of the X-Men’s biggest and most well-known characters. And beyond her actual skills, she has the look and charm to fit a potential portrayal of a young-ish Storm. From a business standpoint, her popularity across demographics would bring a built-in fanbase to the film as well. So there are definitely positives to the casting choice.
On the other hand, playing devil’s advocate, there are some potential missteps. For one, just because Lupita did the damn thing in one film doesn’t mean that she can properly do the action film thing. We’ve seen that with some people crossing genres doesn’t always end successfully. And it would be really terrible to have a Halle Berry part-two situation**.
Either way, these are just minor issues. Of course, what’s most important is what Lupita wants (sorry, fans). Maybe she just doesn’t want to go the route of the summer blockbuster just yet. With Fox already announcing another X-Men to come in 2016, Lupita would have to be willing (and have the time) to start filming this year or early next. And given how young her career is, she might want to stay closer to films that could garner critical acclaim.
At this point, though, it’s only speculation. And I think before fans start demanding stuff from her, they should appreciate her current work and let her choose what’s best for her career.
* — Note: Marvel has very little say in the casting choices for films outside of their control.
** — And if you’re one to indulge in superstitions, Nyong’o might also suffer from the “Oscars Curse,” where an actor wins the prestigious trophy and then her next few movies tank. See: Gwenyth Paltrow, Jamie Foxx, Mira Sorvino and Halle Berry.