10 Best Fantasy & Sci-Fi Movies Dealing With Racism

This year, South by Southwest saw the release of what is quickly becoming one of the cinematic gems of the decades. Directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything everywhere all at once reuses an absurd take on the concept of the multiverse to explore the struggles of a Chinese-American woman, such as the Asian-American immigrant experience and Asian pessimism.

In recent years, film production has spread its creative wings in all sorts of directions. Keen to provide new and accurate perspectives to audiences, film producers and writers are shifting the location of their stories. What began at the turn of the last century as a predominantly white-centric industry is slowly but surely transforming into a more mature and humane art form that will hopefully be able to extend its influence to every viewer and further expand the discussion around the subject of racism and how to prevent it.


Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

Directed by J. Lee Thompson, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes was released in 1972 and it was the fourth installment in the original film series.

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It takes place in a futuristic society responsible for the enslavement of ape species. Similar to Spartacus in theme and tone, it tells the story of Caesar, an orphaned monkey who leads a revolution to free his people from the cruelty of humanity. It is inspired by the Watts riots of 1965 (by FilmSchoolRejects), which took place when reports of police abuse against African Americans gave way to a series of riots near Los Angeles. It is a provocative film that exposes the workings of segregation and discrimination.

X-Men (2000)

Featuring household names like Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, Patrick Stewart or Ian McKellen, Bryan Singer’s x-men is based on the comics of the same name.

The X-Men are a team of powerful mutant heroes who use their powers to protect the world. However, due to their unique genetic mutations and resulting powers, they are feared by powerless humans. The chatline throughout the film is inspired by civil rights movements, as the characters are forced to find ways to deal with hatred and prejudice. Two propositions reminiscent of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X emerge: Professor X advocating peaceful coexistence between mutants and non-mutants, and Magneto’s endorsement of mutant superiority.

Sleep Merchant (2008)

sleep merchant is about a dystopian society set in the distant future. It was directed by Alex Rivera and stars Luis Fernando Peña, Leonor Varela and Jacob Vargas.

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Illegal immigration between the United States and Mexico has been stopped by a wall between the two countries, and thus robots have replaced migrant workers. They are framed on the other side of the border by the would-be emigrants, and their bond with the robots eventually leads to their physical collapse, and they are released without medical assistance. Its focus on exploring notions of technological oppression, particularly how it might intertwine among migrants, has been widely praised by critics and audiences alike.

Avatar (2009)

Avatar Sam Worthington as Jake Sully and Zoe Saldana as Neytiri

Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington bring Neytiri and Jake Sully, respectively, to life in the iconic 2009 Avatar. James Cameron directed, wrote, produced and co-edited this record-breaking epic.

Considered one of the best science fiction films of all time, Avatar deals with the consequences of the colonization of a moon called Pandora located on the star system Alpha Centauri which occurred in the year 2154. In their apprehension of exploiting the invaluable mineral unobtanium, humans endanger the native tribe of Na ‘Vi. Jake Sully’s encounter with them reveals how skewed human perception of the Na’Vi is and how much they suffer because of the colonizers.

The Princess and the Frog (2009)

Tiana making donuts in The Princess and the Frog

The princess and the Frog is a 2009 Walt Disney Pictures film based on the famous tale by the Brothers Grimm and directed by John Musker and Ron Clements.

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It’s a cinematic landmark set in 1920s New Orleans and stars Tiana, Disney’s first African-American princess. Social and racial undertones include him gazing out of a wagon window as the wealthy white world blends into several ramshackle huts that make up the black neighborhood. Despite the class gap, Tiana is a complex representation of an African American woman who works hard to achieve her dreams.

Borough 9 (2009)

District 9 is a 2009 science fiction film directed by Demonic director Neill Blomkamp. This is an alternate reality where an alien ship has landed in Johannesburg and contains a population of insectoid aliens. These aliens are confined to an internment sector called District 9.

It is a clear allegory for issues such as social segregation and xenophobia. Its premise was inspired by historical events that took place during the apartheid era in South Africa when non-white South Africans were segregated and deprived of basic civil rights.

The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

The second movie of The purge was one of the most anticipated horror movies of 2014, and it didn’t disappoint.

Anarchy follows some people who find themselves stranded on the streets during Purge Night, an annual event created by the “New Founding Fathers” to reduce crime. The film constitutes a strong social allegory that denounces the capitalist system and the class injustice that results from it. A black revolutionary group is also featured.

Black Panther (2018)

saying black panther "I never gave in!"

An outstanding achievement for the superhero genre, Black Panther features the late Chadwick Boseman and tells the story of his character, T’Challa, who becomes King of Wakanda after the death of his father.

The film goes beyond any other MCU installment, dealing with the oppression of African people around the world. Additionally, he doesn’t shy away from referencing the atrocities committed during the time of slavery, as Killmonger asks T’Challa to be buried in the ocean with his “ancestors who jumped ships, because they knew that death was better than slavery”.

Dunes (2021)

Dune 2021 Textless Key Art

Few fans will deny that the 2021 version of Dune did better than its 1984 predecessor.

Directed by Denis Villeneuve, it is inspired by the story of the House of Atreides by Frank Herbert. Villeneuve himself argued by CinemaBlend than the 2021 Dunes is a review of the[white] savior” (“someone who will come and tell another population how to be, what to believe”) adding that he represents, in fact, a rebuke of this notion rather than an endorsement of it. it’s an epic tale of colonialism, exploitation and social resilience.

Everything everywhere all at once (2022)

Michelle Yeoh in the multiverse in Everything Everywhere All At Once

By Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, Everything everywhere all at once has received plaudits since its release.

It touches on the concept of the multiverse in an absurd way to tell the story of a Chinese-American woman who discovers that she is responsible for preventing the destruction of the multiverse. Moreover, as Anne Anlin Cheng asserts The Washington Post, “the multiverse acts as a metaphor for the Asian American immigrant experience, or a convenient parable for the personality dislocations and splits experienced by hyphenated citizens (i.e. ” Asian-Americans”)”. It’s a fun, immersive restatement and blend of themes that crosses genres effortlessly.

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