After finally calming down from my excitement about this project, I had the chance to ask filmmaker Maya Glick a few questions about her Storm-centric fan film.
First of all, there are all kinds of interesting and provoking female characters in the X-Men franchise. What drew you to Storm instead of the other X-Ladies (yes, I’m making that a thing now) like Shadowcat, Rogue, or Jubilee?
X-men has always had all kinds of great characters male and female, but I never would have known anything about any of them or about comics at all if it wasn’t for Storm. In order to be pulled into a world like comic books I think you need to find yourself represented in them, so the obvious and easy answer to your question is that I’m black, and so is Storm. I was a pretty isolated kid- I went to an all white elementary school at a time and in a place where i got picked on and beat up pretty often just for being a little girl with brown skin. There were lots of other layers to my childhood as well that led me to a feeling of being something of an alien. i didn’t fit in, and eventually didn’t want to. I felt like a mutant. Then one day I was walking past a movie theater and I saw an image on the side of an arcade game that blew my mind and altered my perception of the world in an instant. It was this fierce looking black woman who looked like a rock star from outer space. She was wearing leather, rocking a mohawk, she had light for eyes, and she was surrounded by lightning… and she was black. At the time i had never even considered that a black female superhero might exist at all. And for this to be the first one I saw… she was perfect. It was a very powerful moment.
The mohawk was key. For me it didn’t just make her look punk rock, it made her look like a warrior. I fell in love with everything about the character on the side of that arcade game and immediately wanted to grow up to be her.
As someone who came to know about Storm through the first X-Men movies, I kind of feel obligated to Halle Berry for portraying her on the big screen (even though my subsequent research into the character kind of dulled my enthusiasm for Berry’s portrayal). You’ve felt a connection with Storm for years before the first movie. How did you feel when you first saw Berry in the role?
It wasn’t so much about Halle Berry, because we’ll never know how she would have played a character that was written and directed differently.
From your description on your Facebook page, you seem just as upset as I am about Storm’s treatment not only in the movies, but in the comics as well. What is most upsetting about her treatment to you, and do you think the current writers for the X-Men titles are succeeding in rectifying this by having her lead the new X-Men comic?
Much like Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Ororo Munroe has gone through a number of incarnations during her life: thief, goddess, queen, hero, witch, teacher, vampire (oh yeah, I went there), and fierce, mohawk-sporting punk. What is your favorite aspect of this complex, multi-faceted woman?
Again, I like the mohawk phase best. For me it’s not just that mohawks are cool and punk rock, although that is also true… it’s that she looks like such a warrior that way. I have a mohawk right now for the third time in my life. Each time I have shaved the sides of my head it has been during a major transformation moment or time of crisis when I’ve needed to kind of boost my fighter spirit and feel empowered. So when I see her like that I relate. I think “Yeah if I had to fight aliens in another dimension I’d probably need a mohawk, too!
And to me she also looks more black that way as well. Storm is an African “goddess”, yes, but she is drawn by white men so naturally she’s still drawn to white male standards of beauty. She has the same long flowy hair that the other ladies have, pointy nose, and even blue eyes. But the mohawk alters that for me. On her it reads like a regal warrior headdress.
A black punk rock chick in leather who is leading a team of mutants with superpowers even at a time when her only powers are her intelligence and the ability to kick actual ass with her fists and a knife. Yes, please!
Given how important Storm is to you personally and how some artists use art as a kind of catharsis, will you be injecting any of your parallels to her life in Rain?
Absolutely. One of the reasons that I needed to create this little piece of art is because I’ve been needing to find an uplifting way to express my own journey through a dark time of powerlessness. In the “Lifedeath” books, the first page is an image of a powerless Ororo crumpled up in bed, depressed and powerless and naked. the idea of a superhero in that state is something that fascinated me, and something I related to personally. A major tragedy at the end of 2011 left me shattered, and so the journey of a woman trying to learn how to literally fly again after losing her powers and her self… there are so many easy parallels there for me personally. That’s why people love comics. That’s why I love Storm.
Your Twitter profile says that you’re also a martial artist. You’re a jack of all trades! What types of martial arts are we talking about here? How will that training come into play with Rain?
I go to Elite Martial Arts here in Austin. It is such an awesome experience and I can’t say enough that that is where my life was saved and refueled after the big tragedy I mentioned before. It’s a mixed martial arts class. Most people hear that and they think of MMA as in UFC cage fighting. We do learn MMA style fighting as part of our curriculum, but it is more an actual MIX of martial arts. My sensei has black belts in several different disciplines and he teaches from all of them which a lot of dojos would never do. He wants us to have the most practical knowledge from as many styles as we can so we learn elements of taekwondo, karate, hapkido, juijitsu, and more. The traditional forms are all different from style to style, but basically once you are actually fighting another person it all becomes kickboxing and wrestling. I love it with my whole heart.
So yes, since I know MMA, my Storm does too… and you’ll get to see that in action.
Will your film be a completely original story, or will you draw from previous Marvel stories?
It’s an original. There will obviously be references, but it’s all original.
Do you think that there are some things the first X-Men movies got right?
Oh I love the very first X-Men movie. I love how it opened with Magneto watching his parents being dragged off to a concentration camp. It set the tone in so many perfect ways. It gave depth to the concept as a whole and it made the “Bad Guy” not such a bad guy. I love how so many of the characters had that kind of depth. You saw them struggling with what it was like to be a freak in a world that’s against them. But we didn’t get any of that with Storm. A big part of Storm’s character in the books is that she stays as calm as she can not because she’s naturally mild-mannered but because she HAS to. What must that be like? To not be able to express anger or rage when you need to for fear of causing the very sky to erupt. To be calm, but somehow still a quiet threat, like a dormant volcano… all while being haunted by the memory of watching your parents die horribly in front of you. We didn’t get to see any of that depth or intensity from that character. We just got “pretty schoolteacher who worries a lot”.
Are you going to try to improve on their weaknesses, or do you want Rain to be as far removed from Singer’s and Ratner’s films as possible?
Some companies have come down pretty hard on fan films recently, especially with a Wonder Woman fan film I personally had been excited about. Are you worried that Marvel might bring the hammer down on Rain (no Thor pun intended)?
I am trying not to give too much energy to all of that, but I’m aware of the concern (people keep reminding me). There are some key differences between what I’m doing and another film that Marvel recently shut down. For one thing, Disney/Marvel are supposedly working on a film based on the same character as the one they put a stop to. I doubt there is a studio film being done about Storm right now. Also, the other film they went after had a huge budget, and their main concern was that people might think it was an “official” Marvel release. And most importantly, the other film used a pre-existing storyline. I wrote my own. In fact at no point in my story will you hear anyone directly even say her name. Keep in mind that there have been other Marvel fanfilms, they don’t really worry about them until they start looking like they were made on the Warner Brother’s lot in Hollywood, using plots that other people have written. And my film is not for any kind of profit at all. It’s fan art. Like a really involved painting that I want to share with other fans. And my main response to all of that when people bring it up has been the words of Han Solo: “Never tell me the odds!”
Okay, you’ve sold me, and I’m sure many other Storm fans, on this film. How can we help you make this movie a reality?
So glad you asked! This whole thing has taken on a life of it’s own over the past month or so and it’s evolved into something more ambitious and expensive than I realized it would be. Even on a small scale, once a “crew” is involved with filming and production, the cost skyrockets. So of course I am hoping to make this crazy dream come true through the magic of social media and crowdfunding. The Kickstarter page just went live a couple days ago and filming won’t begin til after the funds are there, so we’ve got just shy of a month to make it happen.
Very grateful to awesome outlets like Legendarium for helping to get the word out and keep the excitement building. Thanks so much for all the interest and support!
Many thanks to Maya for taking the time to talk about Rain and why Ororo Munroe deserves more respect (and more to do) in the movies!
About Reporter Michelle Lawhorn:
Michelle, a.k.a. Stormraven, is what can only be described as an eclectic nerd. Her interests and expertise range from Doctor Who to Lord of the Rings, cosplay to comics, and Bollywood to opera to name just a few. When not raving about her “fandoms”, she can be found working on projects as an Associate Editor at Haven Publishing and adding to her ever-growing list of Things to Cosplay. She can currently be found searching for more material to feed her newfound obsession with Star Wars.