“Deadpool 2” is now in theaters, and everyone’s favorite foul-mouthed, “Golden Girls”-loving mercenary is back in the red suit. This time around, Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) is forming a group of tough mutants to protect a teen boy from the clutches of Cable (Josh Brolin). Joining Deadpool’s X-Force team is Domino (Zazie Beetz), a hired gun whose superpower is to have good luck in her favor. It might seem like a minor or made-up power to have, but Beetz’s portrayal of the comic book hero means more just having a nice outfit and amazing fighting ability.
In the comics, Domino is sleek with pale skin, a straight bob for a hairstyle and a blue/black patch over her left eye. Her eyes are two different colors, with the left being white. Her suit is tight fitting, with emphasis on her bustline, and she looks like an extra of a Marilyn Manson video. In late 2016, when word was out that Domino would be a part of “Deadpool 2,” no fewer than 10 actresses were hyped to be in the running, ranging from action stars Ruby Rose and Sofia Boutella to “serious” actresses Sienna Miller and Mackenzie Davis. But in March 2017, Reynolds tweeted that Beetz, who wasn’t on the list, had nabbed the role.
Much has been said among comic book fans about the casting before the film hit theaters, and when the first picture of Beetz, best known for her work as Van on the hit FX series “Atlanta,” some folks were up in arms. They were intimidated by her black skin, her natural blowout hair, and the white patch of vitiligo around her left eye. Her eyes are also different colors, with the left one being brighter than the right. But since Domino’s chalky white skin in the comics is part of her mutation, how could anyone tell what race she was? Rob Liefeld, a comic book writer and Domino’s creator, applauded Beetz’s casting and the first look at her in costume as the lucky mutant.
When I saw the first photo, I had two reasons to celebrate: there was finally a comic book hero who had two things in common with me. Domino and I both have natural curly hair and a patch of vitiligo. Vitiligo is a condition where the skin can become depigmented, or loss its color. It’s a condition that is more pronounced on darker complexions, with light skin patches appearing anywhere. According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, about 1 percent of the world’s population is affected by this condition and there is no cure.
The best-known case of vitiligo was Michael Jackson. When interviewed about how his skin color changed over time from a dark brown shade to a pale one, Jackson said that there were blotches all over him and that he used makeup to blend into one color. The kind Jackson described is known as generalized vitiligo, where discolored patches form all over the body.
While Jackson felt the need to camouflage his vitiligo, more are now embracing their patches. “America’s Next Top Model” alum Winnie Harlow is a sought-after model and spokeswoman. She was a fixture on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival this month and walked the runway at its annual amFar gala. Harlow’s generalized vitiligo helps redefine beauty in a positive way, and she speaks up when the media pigeonholes her as a “sufferer.”
In a March Instagram post she share with her 3 million followers, Harlow addressed that label by emphasizing her successes.
In Domino’s case, a white patch is formed over her eye. This form is known as localized, or focal, vitiligo, and it’s limited to one area of the body. An area will lose pigmentation for a brief time, and then it stops. I also have localized vitiligo as I have pea-sized patches behind my ears and a larger patch on my abdomen that is the size and shape of Australia. Growing up, the belly patch was known as my birthmark because it arrived when I was a toddler, but after analyzing its coloring, texture and sharp edges, I figured out it was vitiligo. The ear patches, which look like the Bahamian archipelago, came about in elementary school. The doctors thought that they were a sign of an allergic reaction to hair braiding (what the what?), but again after an analysis, it was determined to be vitiligo.
Vitiligo can also affect the eye, causing iritis, inflammation of the iris. This plays well with Domino’s two different eye colors. In “Deadpool 2,” none of the characters ridicule Domino’s patch or her natural afro, which is a change from what many black women encounter on a daily basis.
During the film’s opening weekend, many fans with vitiligo or know people who have it went onto Twitter to express their support.
My favorite part of Deadpool 2 was hearing Melanie say, "Mom, Domino has vitiligo and she's beautiful!" @VancityReynolds her twin, Ares is having trouble with his vitiligo. Thank you from a helpless mom trying to reinforce how special it makes him.
— Mari Castillo (@mari623) May 20, 2018
domino is so important like we really living in a time where i can see a black superhero with vitiligo pic.twitter.com/qpOczxaM1U
— ᴊᴜ (@outrotearnj) May 20, 2018
— Dr. JP Lawrence (@JPLawrencePhoto) May 18, 2018
The perfection of #deadpool2’s Domino is still striking me.
They took a white character w/ an inexplicable black eye mark, cast her as a natural hair sporting black woman w/ a white mark around her eye – the result of vitiligo.
I just can’t. Zazie Beatz is perfection. pic.twitter.com/bXr7RGes2i
— CaitlinCarrigan (@CaitlinCarrigan) May 21, 2018