Zoe Saldana Hears Superhero Actors Are Sell-Outs. These 3 Reasons Prove Critics Wrong.

These roles matter to so many.

When it comes to playing a superhero or sci-fi character, Zoe Saldana is proud to play the part. You know her as Uhura in the Star Trek franchise, as Gamora in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and as Neytiri in the Avatar franchise — and she isn't here for those who think of actors who wear capes, have powers, or fly throughout space as lesser than.


"I've been in rooms with people in this industry who are great at what they do, but they're absolutely elitist and they look down at movies like the Marvel films or actors like myself," Saldana told Net-a-Porter. "They think we're selling out in some way. Every time they speak I feel so disappointed in them, because whenever you see pictures of people in this industry who donate their time to children in need, it's these actors that live in the world that you feel is selling out."

"It's these actors that understand the role that they play inspires a 5-year-old who has one dying wish to meet a superhero," Saldana continued. "The actor takes time out of their life and sits down with that 5-year-old and says, 'I see you, I hear you, and you matter.' Those elitists should be a little more cognizant about what playing a superhero means to a young child. Because you're not just dissing me, you're dissing what that child considers important in their world."

When Saldana thinks about how she plays characters of all different colors who are intergalactic, she feels "so proud" because she knows she is inspiring younger generations. In fact, Saldana remembers her own childhood and her feelings of being considered "other."

There are three reasons that highlight Saldana's point that actors who play superheroes and other imaginative characters are just as necessary as those who play "more serious" parts:

1. They help represent those who don’t see themselves reflected often in pop culture.

We already know that diversity pays off at the box office, but when people see characters that look like them on the big screen, something happens. They feel reflected by mainstream pop culture. Recently we've seen the likes of Wonder Woman and Black Panther not only rake in a lot of dough but also mean something to those venturing out to the theater to see them.

For the first time, blockbusters were allowing women and people of color to see themselves as the main protagonist at the center of their own story. Women are often parts of larger teams of superheroes that consist of pretty much of all men, but Wonder Woman was the star. And, while Black Panther is by no means the first Black superhero in a film, it was still a huge moment.

With these two films paving the way by being massive successes — and meaning a lot to audiences — it's good that we have diverse movies in the near future to look forward to.

2. The actors who play them take on aspects of their larger-than-life counterparts.

Speaking to Saldana's main point, many actors who have taken up the role of superhero have proven to be exemplary to their fans in real life. Chris Evans, who plays Avengers frontman Captain America, has shown up time and time again for kids who are sick — with assists from Chris Pratt (aka Star-Lord) and Robert Downey Jr. (aka Iron Man) during these grand occasions, the latter of whom also showed up to support a terminally ill fan who wanted to meet their hero. Most recently, Evans paid tribute to a young fan who passed away from cancer. Ryan Reynolds, who plays the foul-mouthed Deadpool, is also a huge advocate for fans, having FaceTimed with a cancer-stricken fan and penned a touching tribute to another who lost their battle with cancer. These are just a few examples of how these actors rise above just playing a role and are cape-worthy offscreen, too.

3. These superhero stories often mean more than just “pow,” “bam,” and “zing.”

The superheroes themselves — and their stories — are, simply put, inspiring. We've seen mythical characters such as Wonder Woman and Captain America mean more than what they are on the page. Wonder Woman, for example, has been one to preach her ideology of peace over violence, and overall represent female empowerment. Captain America came around during World War II and was more than just a man who got to punch Adolf Hitler on a cover, he represented the United States.

These two fictional characters — plus many, many others — have inspired many people. Their stories, though unrealistic in nature, are universal. So much so that now we see everyday people donning their costumes when doing generous acts, and others taking the idea of a superhero and applying it to groups of people that perhaps don't see themselves in that light

Superheroes aren't just here to entertain us, they're here to show us what we're capable of.

Cover image: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com | Marvel / Disney


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.