If you grew up in the late ’50s, you might have stumbled across Walt Disney’s “Little Minnehaha” and “Little Hiawatha,” in comic book form.
At that point in time it wouldn’t have been expected for adequate representation of indigenous people to be seen in comics; however, this year Marvel Studios decided to change that and adapted a comic for the big screen with the intricate writing of Noah Hawley.
The Marvel universe is finally getting to showcase live-action TV in this newly released series called Legion, following the experiences of the telepathic ‘Omega Mutant’ David Haller, played by Dan Stevens, son of Founder of the X-Men Charles Xavier.
Considered to be a “very different” series for Marvel Studios, Legion is less focused on the generic superhero with powers and more focused on character development and psychological triumph.
To top it off, Haller is known for his telepathic ability to host thousands of split personalities, each with their own strengths and powers. This is why Haller is dubbed Legion as a derivative from the Bible story found in Mark 5:9 of a man possessed by evil spirits, who when confronted by Jesus Christ said “I am legion, for I am many”.
Interesting stuff for sure, but the way this series has opened for indigenous representation is that it showcases Amber Midthunder – an actor of the Fort Peck Assiniboine Sioux – playing Kerry Loudermilk.
Loudermilk is considered to be a key piece in the team of people that takes Haller in to help him sift through and differentiate the real world from the world inside of his mind.
This is a major role for Midthunder, but she is a second-generation actress as her father David Midthunder is best known for his lead role as “Famous Shoes” in Larry McMurtry’s Comanche Moon. As well, her career already began in the movie business when she was just eight years old — with her first feature in film in a scene with Alan Arkin just days before his Oscar win.
But, although Loudermilk’s powers have yet to be revealed, Midthunder jokingly said “I think if I were to have David’s powers, I’d be just as crazy as he is,” in an interview during her red carpet walk.
But that’s not to say she doesn’t know her own character well.
“I knew who [Loudermilk] was, and I knew everything that I was supposed to know about her to play her going in,” she said.
She worked from three pages of dialogue during her audition and explained that the most exciting part of the series is definitely the story.
“The style of the narrative is what’s really fun,” she said. “This show has a really unique style of telling the story, both in terms of the narrative and in terms of the visual. It’s been really fun.”
“[Noah Hawley’s] writing is so rich that the only problem with it is that you have to do it justice, so that’s also really great,” she said.
But, when asked if Loudermilk is native by Indian Country Media Network, Midthunder explained that the nationality of Loudermilk doesn’t have specific tribal affiliation.
“She is [native] now that I’m playing her,” she joked. “The series creator Noah Hawley created these characters himself, so I think that will be up to him.”
Along with doing jui-jitsu when she was a kid, Midthunder trained one-on-one in Tae Kwan Do to help prepare her for the action required throughout the series. This is mainly because her character is “very action based.”
“She’s very strong and she’s not one to dwell,” Midthunder said.
And outside of her character, neither is she — Midthunder spoke to Indian Country Media about considering stereotypes before she accepts roles.
“As someone who has a job that is in the public eye I want to represent my people as a whole, as best I can and I feel that a large part of it to me is being more than your ethnicity, that’s a large part of who you are,” she said.
Midthunder will be kicking-butt on screen, so even though the first season is already off to a roaring start, if you’re interested in a psychological show with indigenous representation – look no further.
The next episode airs tonight: Wednesday, March 1 at 10 p.m. on FX.