The first all-black science fiction film, Son of Ingagi, appeared in 1940. Most people probably haven’t heard of it, but it’s an important movie in Black cinematic history.
In the last several years, moviegoers enjoyed more Black science fiction films than ever before, with Marvel’s The Black Panther as one of the best.
Whether you like serious dystopias or campy space operas, you’ll find several Black sci fi movies to enjoy on this list.
Son of Ingagi (1940)
If you’re interested in the history of Black cinema, you shouldn’t miss this movie. Son of Ingagi is a science fiction horror film that features some surprisingly good performances for a low-budget movie from that era.
Part campy monster-movie, part whodunit, the movie has an unfortunate name that makes it seem like a sequel to the 1930 exploitation film Ingagi. However, the films aren’t related.
Black actor Spencer Williams, who played Andy on The Amos ‘N Andy Show, wrote the script based on his short story House of Horror. Williams was one of the first Black men in the entertainment industry to produce and direct films, though he didn’t direct this movie.
This movie goes down in history as the first Black science fiction film. The project is also notable because its writer was a Black pioneer in the entertainment industry.
Men in Black (1997)
Men in Black was the third highest-grossing film in 1997. Will Smith played the lead role during a high point in his film career.
This science-fiction comedy took theaters by storm with its fun, action-packed story of a man who joins the Men in Black government agency to keep earth safe from hostile alien forces.
Smith’s performance is half the fun as he tries to adapt to a classic fish-out-of-water experience with hilarious results. Tommy Lee Jones plays the straight man to Smith’s more laid-back character.
Will Smith was already a famous Black celebrity when he starred in this movie thanks to other film work and his TV series Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but MiB brought him a new level of fame.
This movie is one of the best Black sci fi movies based on a comic book series. The film led to multiple sequels and an animated TV series.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Marvel Comics produced several live-action Spiderman movies with three different actors in the lead role. Despite the internet coming together to nominate Donald Glover to be the first Black Spiderman, that honor went to Shameik Moore in the first animated Spidey film.
The movie breaks away from the traditional origin story and sets Miles Morales, a Black and Puerto Rican teenager with a policeman father, in a world where Spiderman already exists. Miles’ father sees Spidey as a vigilante and menace, while Miles sees him as a hero.
In another break from tradition, Spiderman dies in the film. Miles learns the ropes of becoming the new Spider-Man from Peter Parker, an older version of the hero from another dimension.
This fast-paced film hit it big at the box office and paved the way for two planned sequels that will most likely also be some of the most fun Black sci fi movies available.
Spawn goes down in movie history as one of the first feature films about a comic book superhero played by a Black actor. Michael Jai White played the role of Spawn, a.k.a. Al Simmons, a Marine murdered by his superior officer.
Simmons makes a deal in hell to serve Malebolgia in exchange for a chance to return to earth and see the people he loves.
He arrives on earth five years later as Spawn and tries to stop Wynn, the man who killed him, from releasing a biological weapon he developed. Wynn makes a hellish deal, too, and threatens the lives of the people Spawn loves.
When Spawn eventually saves the day, he stays on earth as a superhero seeking justice and fighting crime. This movie is one of the darker Black science fiction movies, and though it has its share of sadness, it leaves watchers with a feeling of hope.
Will Smith plays a reluctant superhero in Hancock, one of the best Black sci fi movies from the 2000s.
Hancock isn’t a typical superhero. He’s a reckless alcoholic who causes nearly as many problems as he solves and doesn’t enjoy having to save people. One of the people he rescues decides to reform Hancock and make him a real superhero people can admire.
The movie explores what would happen if a superhero woke up with amnesia, bitter about his lost memories and unhappy about people relying on him. Hancock becomes a superhero film that’s as much about the main character’s redemption as his powers.
Blade is categorized as horror and science fiction because the main character is a Marvel Studios comics character from the 1970s. Blade is a superhero archetype, even though he’s a vampire.
Wesley Snipes played Blade and led the film to success. The movie produced two sequels and became one of the earliest Marvel film franchises.
In the story, Blade’s mother is bitten by a vampire during his birth, turning him into a half-vampire. He seeks revenge on vampires for his suffering and reins in his blood-drinking instincts to help humanity fight the scourge of the undead.
The Brother From Another Planet (1984)
Joe Morton plays an alien trapped on earth in one of the low-budget Black sci fi movies in this list. The alien looks like an ordinary Black man but has healing powers and feet with three toes.
He can heal people by holding a hand over their injuries, and this power also works to fix machinery and electronics. This skill helps him find work as a technician while hiding from the Men in Black.
Sometimes called “the Black E.T. Movie,” the film sets out to portray the pain and difficulty of the immigrant experience through the alien metaphor.
Sorry to Bother You (2018)
LaKeith Stanfield plays Cassius “Cash” Green in this hilarious sci-fi and fantasy movie that’s part mind-bending surrealism, a morality play, and a window into racial discrimination.
Cash becomes a telemarketer and quickly learns that speaking with a “white accent” puts him on top of the sales board. This accent and the portrayal of Cash dropping into people’s homes to interrupt their dinners and their bathroom time when he calls are some of the funniest moments in the film.
After Cash’s promotion to the top of the corrupt corporation he works for, he has to make a difficult choice. He can do unethical work and rake in huge paydays, or he can stand up for his principles.
This film is one of the most inventive Black sci fi movies you’ll see anywhere.
Black Panther (2018)
Black Panther is the first Marvel Studios superhero film with a primarily Black cast and one of its most successful films, earning over $1.3 billion at the box office.
The late Chadwick Boseman played T’Challa, who returned to his isolated African homeland of Wakanda after his father’s death to assume the throne. He has to save Wakanda and the entire world from an evil, power-hungry enemy.
Other top Black actors in the film include Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, and Danai Gurira, making it one of the Black movies you need to watch. Marvel plans a sequel for 2022.
Independence Day (1996)
Independence Day is another of the Black science fiction films of the 1990s featuring Will Smith in a leading role. Independence Day was the highest-grossing film in the world in 1996.
This time, Smith plays Stephen Hiller, a Marine captain who gets deployed unexpectedly. The emergency is a fleet of alien ships positioning themselves over vital locations worldwide.
When the hostile aliens attack, Hiller and scientist David Levinson, played by Jeff Goldblum, team up to defeat the aliens and save the earth.
Will Smith has played a leading role in many Black science fiction movies, and projects like this one and the Men in Black franchise made him a favorite in the genre.
Bo Wolfe is a street magician played by Jacob Latimore who uses an electromagnetic device implanted in his arm to perform magic. He uses the futuristic implant to manipulate metal objects and show them floating in the air.
He resorts to selling drugs to support himself and his little sister after their parents’ deaths. When he tries to steal a small amount of money from a drug kingpin to take his sister away and start a new life, he loses a hand and has to fight for their lives.
Wolfe uses pickpocketing, magic, and the device in his arm to defeat the kingpin and save himself.
Space is the Place (1972)
Musician and Renaissance man Sun-Ra lands a spaceship in Oakland a few years after everyone presumed him lost in space and dead. He leads a concert designed to get other Black people in the area to leave with him for a distant planet.
Sun-Ra defeats a Satanic enemy and puts on a worldwide concert to send his message. Eventually, he escapes with his people as the earth is exploding.
Space is the Place is one of the earliest Afrofuturist films.
Event Horizon (1997)
This movie is one of the Black sci fi films set in the future that qualifies for this list based on its lead character. Laurence Fishburne plays the leading role as the captain of the rescue vessel deployed when the Event Horizon, a starship missing for seven years, reappears.
Sam Neill plays the man who designed the Event Horizon, who gets pulled into the ship’s hellish dimension and becomes the villain along with whatever evil force came back aboard.
Fishburne is convincing as the hero in one of the creepiest Black science fiction horror films of the 90s.
The Matrix (1999)
The Matrix might not be a movie people think of when they’re thinking about Black films, but it deserves at least an honorable mention on this list.
The Matrix is one of the greatest sci fi films of all time. It influenced every movie in the genre that followed it. Will Smith was offered the lead role of Neo but turned it down. Had he accepted it, the lead in this iconic science fiction film would have been a Black actor.
Laurence Fishburne played Morpheus, one of the main characters. Morpheus orchestrates Neo’s discovery of the machines and how they enslaved humans to serve as batteries to power their world.
Fishburne’s role is a lead role that elevates the movie because of his excellent performance. The Oracle and Tank are Black characters also vital to the film.
The Meteor Man (1993)
The Meteor Man is one of the Black science fiction movies that succeeds as a superhero film and a comedy.
Robert Townsend plays a Washington D.C. schoolteacher who becomes a hero by defending a woman from a neighborhood gang. While he’s running for his life from the angry gang members, he gets hit with a glowing meteorite and develops a variety of superpowers.
Healing, flight, X-ray vision, strength, speed, telekinesis, the ability to communicate with dogs, and the ability to absorb a book’s contents by touching it are only some of the long list of his bizarre powers.
He uses his powers to fight the gang in his neighborhood and make the streets safer. The rest of the cast is an impressive roster of Black actors, including Marla Gibbs, Robert Guillaume, Bill Cosby, James Earl Jones, Luther Vandross, and Eddie Griffin.
Best Black Sci Fi Movies Ever, Final Thoughts
Most of the best Black sci fi movies come from the last four decades, but there are gems of the genre going back as far as the 1940s.
Monster movies, mad scientists, alien invasions, Afrofuturism, space operas, superheroes, and comedy are all part of the history of Black science fiction movies.
This list of films offers something for everyone, no matter which type of movie you prefer.