Production on Netflix’s upcoming television adaptation of The Sandman comic book series is well underway, with the majority of casting announcements already made, but some “fans” are unhappy with decisions made during the casting process.
Most recently, people are in an uproar over a nonbinary actor being cast to play a nonbinary character and a Black actor taking on the role of a character who was depicted as white in the comics. For some reason, fans are fine with a literal incarnation of Death on-screen, yet can’t wrap their minds around a Black actor playing them.
Mason Alexander Park will portray Desire, who is canonically nonbinary, while The Good Place star Kirby Howell-Baptiste has accepted the role of Death, a character who is “visually depicted as white in the comics,” per Entertainment Weekly.
The backlash against these casting decisions is par for the course nowadays as a certain loud minority of the internet recoils at any on-screen diversity, immediately lambasting these decisions as trying to be “woke” even though Black people and nonbinary do, in fact, exist in real life.
But it doesn’t matter what this angry part of the internet has to say because The Sandman co-creator Neil Gaiman could care less. In a tweet, he clapped back at a fan that accused him of selling out by saying he “gives all the f—s about the world,” but gives “zero f—s about people who don’t understand/haven’t read Sandman whining about a non-binary Desire or that Death isn’t white enough. Watch the show, make up your minds.”
The Sandman casting decisions are in line with their comic book counterparts.
Going back to Death being “white” in the comics, as Entertainment Weekly notes, Death is only shown to have white skin “to evoke paleness or the color of a ghost,” not necessarily because Death is Caucasian.
"“It is also worth noting that the Endless manifest in various ways throughout the Sandman comics, because they represent timeless concepts that appear differently to different people as opposed to living beings locked within one body. As one fan pointed out in a post that Gaiman retweeted, Death manifests as a young Chinese girl in one story, while in an early issue of The Sandman set in ancient Africa, Dream appears as a Black man.”"
Most fans have been accepting of Howell-Baptiste’s casting, with various fanart and iterations appearing online already. As for Desire, the character has always been nonbinary and was never assigned gender in the comics.