Supacell: Is the Netflix Show Based on a Comic Book or Novel?

Set in South London, ‘Supacell’ follows five people whose lives are barely, if at all, interconnected. Or so they think. Activated in moments of distress, their superpowers open the doors that they didn’t even know existed. However, with great power comes great danger, and the protagonists of the show meet their enemies soon enough. While a lot is going on in the story, we mainly follow the perspectives of Michael, Sabrina, Andre, Rodney, and Tazer, all of whom have completely different lifestyles and personal challenges.

Created by Andrew Onwubolu, aka Rapman, this 2024 Netflix series brings a fresh take to the superhero genre. Much of this is due to Rapman’s intention to ground the series in reality and make the characters feel as true and relatable to the audience as possible. Tapping into his own experiences helped him bring that authenticity to the story.

Supacell is Inspired by Realistic Superhero Stories

Generally, superhero movies and TV shows are based on comic books or graphic novels, but this is not the case with ‘Supacell.’ It is an original story created by Rapman, who loved the genre but wanted to give it a fresh spin. Inspired by shows like ‘Misfits’ and ‘Heroes,’ the multi-hyphenated artist wanted to create a blend of his own life and experiences, especially growing up in South London, with the fantasy of superhero stories while focusing more on the humanity of the characters rather than their powers.

The idea for the story originated while Rapman was working on another project: a film called ‘Blue Story.’ While shooting the making-of video for the film in 2019, a conversation sparked about how the writer-director didn’t want to be “pigeonholed as just a ghetto writer.” He was inspired by Ryan Coogler, who jumped genres expertly by making films like ‘Fruitvale Station’ and ‘Black Panther,’ and expanding his palette. In the video, he talks about his desire to make a sci-fi series, imagining someone from South London getting powers. Snowballing from here, Rapman decided to start writing it as a film but soon realized that it must be more than a two-hour thing, and hence, settled on making it as a TV show.

South London is a Huge Influence on Supacell

Even before he started writing the story, Rapman wanted everyday characters as his protagonists. He wanted characters that the audience could relate to. He wanted to present varied experiences, presenting different people’s perspectives on different journeys, allowing a greater spectrum for the audience to identify with a character. Above all, he wanted to focus on the Black experience. Coming from South London, he wanted to exhibit the place’s diversity, energy, and vibrance as opposed to the generic representation the area and its people have received in popular media. To him, a character’s feelings and motivation were more important than their powers.

When the time came to bring the story out of the paper and on the screen, Rapman referenced everything from Marvel and DC to ‘The Wire’ and ‘BMF.’ To present an authentic experience to the audience, he decided to use real locations in South London and present the neighborhood in a new light. It felt all the more personal to him because, in a way, he was presenting to the audience the place that he grew up in. Deeply familiar with all aspects of South London, he wanted the audience to see the same through his eyes.

At the end of the day, Rapman wanted the story to feel relevant to the audience. He wanted to do social commentary and focus on the issues that affect the general populace, but he didn’t want to come off as preachy about it. Rather, he preferred to package it in the accessibility of the sci-fi and superhero genre so the audience is entertained while also feeling deeply connected to the story and the characters. Considering all this, it’s clear that despite the fictional and rather fantastical premise, ‘Supacell’ is grounded by a gritty tone and a sense of realism.

Read More: Netflix’s Supacell Shot: Exploring All Filming Locations