In 1993, Meteor Man touched down in theaters to mixed reviews but ultimately became a staple in kids’ VHS collection. Starring its writer/producer Robert Townsend as the titular character, the superhero suited up to defeat a Washington, D.C. gang (The Golden Lords) while delivering the jokes throughout the process. Meteor Man’s powers were granted after he was hit by a meteorite. Pre-superhero fame, Townsend’s character (Jefferson Reed) was known in the neighborhood as a by-the-book teacher.
To commemorate the film’s milestone, Townsend took to Twitter to express his gratitude. In the tweet, The Parent ‘Hood actor said he “called on every favor in Hollywood” to solidify a star-studded cast that featured Don Cheadle, Sinbad, Marla Gibbs, Luther Vandross, James Earl Jones, Cypress Hill, Naughty by Nature, and Bill Cosby. In an interview with SyfyWire, Townsend said his goal in casting these big names was to “hit every demographic” imaginable. “I thought this could be a billion-dollar franchise [laughs], and even though we didn’t hit the mark, I was planting a seed that one day would be possible. Now that I see the Black Panther movie, I see that day came.”
In the beginning, Townsend said he wanted to hold the title of acting as or creating “the first African-American superhero on screen.” He blended in comedy with serious issues that impacted inner communities, but outside of the lights, camera, action, Townsend wanted to show that he’s a “fearless” creator and it pays to “try something that nobody else was willing to do and just going for it.”
25 years ago today I became the first African-American superhero to hit the silver screen!. I called on every favor in Hollywood and put together an all star cast that included James Earl Jones, Robert Guillaume, Marla Gibbs, Luther Vandross, Bill Cosby, Don Cheadle #blessed pic.twitter.com/3LC3irot8u
— Robert Townsend (@Robert_Townsend) August 6, 2018
Alongside the blockbuster success of Black Panther, Townsend added that Meteor Man helped to lay the foundation for other black superhero films or television shows.
“When I look at Black Lightning and Luke Cage, they’re like my cinematic sons. They’ve taken on cleaning up the Hood, like what Meteor Man was doing trying to unite the gangs and get the community together,” he said. “I think people still laugh, it’s still funny, but then in terms of the ultimate message that we can empower our own communities if we work together, I think that theme is still there and still needed.”
Townsend’s next project is titled Making The Five Heartbeats which hits select theaters on Aug. 27.