In response to the criticisms leveled against Netflix’s upcoming Sandman series regarding its casting of Death, which will see the second eldest Endless depicted as a black woman rather than as the white woman originally seen in the original comic book series, Neil Gaiman has insisted that skeptical fans “watch the show” before they “make up [their] minds.”
Since the May 26th announcement that Death would be portrayed in the upcoming Netflix series by Kirby Howell-Baptiste (Cruella), Gaiman has spent a not insignificant amount of time on Twitter responding to various fan criticisms of this casting decision, many of whom were disappointed that the popular character would not be seen in her on screen debut sporting her iconic look.
Much of the conversation surrounding this casting decision was prompted by Twitter user @Aseird3D, who in response to a tweet by Gaiman in which the author shared the Sandman series cast announcement, asked, “Death is black? Really?”
“She was one of the most iconic characters,” they continued. “She was like a tiny Siouxie with a very white face and very black clothes and postpunk hair”.
“If you think the Endless have any specific human race or form, you’ve missed something in Sandman,” responded Gaiman. “Don’t worry. Watch the show.”
In turn, @magic_imp asserted to Gaiman, “No, Neil. It’s not that easy.”
“You made Death the way she looked in every story with the great personality to match,” said @magic_imp. “I’ll give the actress a shot, but this casting smacks of checking of a box. Making Death Black just to make her Black is beyond contemptuous.”
Gaiman replied, “Which is why Kirby got the part.”
“The ability to give us the great personality was important,” said Gaiman. “The skin colour of the actresses auditioning for the role was not.”
In the same thread, @HerbertWatt1 similarly noted, “[Death’s] design was pure brilliance in its simplicity and people love her and how she looks in the comic. As the creator you knew this.”
“And that is the one design you went “Screw all that” with?”, asked @HerbertWatt1.
“I hope the money was good,” the user added.
A baffled Gaiman responded, “I always thought that people loved Death for who she was. The person that I wrote.”
“I’m astonished to find that, for some people, what they thought she was, was a white woman, and just a white woman,” the author exclaimed.
Inevitably, Gaiman’s own words concerning the pitfalls of making changes to beloved franchises were cited against him, as @JohnA_Douglas noted, “When you change an iconic look,‘it’s not the same. Remember? You posted about this very thing.”
“This is literally you telling us a guy in a yellow trench coat with a pet bat is now Batman,” he added.
“We haven’t seen her costume yet. How can you be so certain?”, asked Gaiman in reply. “And I’ve read the script, and all the words she says and things she does are the ones in the comic. Why are you so certain this is going to be different?”
Gaiman previously explained why fans were abandoning major franchises using a Batman analogy.
He tweeted, “But the fan base are fans. And they like the source material because it’s the source material they like. So if you do something else, you risk alienating the fans on a monumental scale. It’s not Batman if he’s now a news reporter in a yellow trenchcoat with a pet bat.”
Ultimately, Gaiman retweeted a user who asked “Why sell out? Just stand by your work or do you lack the intestinal fortitude?”
The user added, “It irks me more that you just don’t even give a f–k.”
Gaiman responded, “I give all the f–ks about the work. I spent 30 years successfully battling bad movies of Sandman.”
“I give zero f–ks about people who don’t understand/ haven’t read Sandman whining about a non-binary Desire or that Death isn’t white enough,” he concluded. “Watch the show, make up your minds.”
What do you make of Gaiman’s response to the criticisms of Death’s casting? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!