I recently watched a video on Byronic Heroes. You'll note that Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) from Black Panther (2018) is included--he's the only black male included on the list. Before I get into my gripe, let's first go over who/what the Byronic Hero is.
The Byronic Hero is a popular character in romantic and gothic literature, named after the famous British poet and author, Lord Byron (Don Juan), who was said to have embodied the very traits that defined these famous characters.
Often, the Byronic hero can be gothic, romantic, or both. Examples include: Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre), Max de Winter (Rebecca), Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights), Edward Cullen (Twilight Saga), Christian Grey (50 Shades franchise), Kylo Ren (Star Wars), and the lead male character in the Meteor Garden/Boys Over Flowers television series.
The Byronic hero is marked by a number of traits:
*Handsome, intellectual and wealthy
*Dark, brooding/mysterious and reclusive
*Often wears black/ dresses sophisticatedly
*Hiding a terrible secret/ or tortured by something from his past
*Condescending/rude, or meanspirited (at first)
*Redeemable through love
This character can be rather problematic (mentally ill wife locked in the closet, murdered wife, S&M, kidnapping, etc.).
That said, he is a popular literary character. But, back to Killmonger. He's not a Byronic hero. One, he's not in a romantic or gothic movie. Two, he's not wealthy*; three, he's not tortured or haboring dark secrets. He's a victim of the act that defines him, rather than the perpetrator of that act himself.
Killmonger's inclusion highlights the reason for this post. Where's the black, or African-descended Byronic hero? I mentioned Meteor Garden/Boys Over Flowers, showing the Asian version of this character. I have yet to see a black version.
The character of Devon Lecusken in the Winter Haven duology is a Byronic hero. Devon Lecusken isn't black, but a white man with darker features credited to his First Nations ancestry. Back then I called him a bad boy, a modern interpretation of this character (e.g. Dylan McKay in 90210).
Since the aforementioned video, I have been hunting for the Afro-descended Byronic hero. The closest I have found is Heathcliff, a character described in Wuthering Heights as a Gypsy, Lascar, and a Moor. The Bronte Society, and essays on the topic of Heathcliff's ethnicity, suggests he may be of partial African heritage, born to a biracial woman and Mr. Earnshaw (Catherine's father).
Heathcliff, often described as jealous of white-skinned people, went from a romantic hero (with Catherine I) to gothic villain (Catherine II), so this isn't exactly a great bonus for black men.
Then there's the title character of Alexandre Dumas' Georges (1843), said to be loosely based on the mixed race author himself, a master of revenge fantasies.
Georges is a mulatto man who witnessed the humiliation of his father on the French island colony of Mauritius; he sets out to become better than his white compatriots, so he can carry out his revenge. Georges has all the traits of a Byronic hero, and has lots in common with Heathcliff. They have something to prove to the whiter society that denies them respect and love, and for Georges that means seducing the white bethroted of his rival, and leading a slave rebellion.
With the exception of these two, there aren't many characters (partly black or not) who fit the bill.
But, are there more identifiably black Byronic Heroes?
Check out an AUDIO version