wonder woman chief

Photo via Wonder Woman/Warner Bros.

Wonder Woman’ actor explains that his Native American character was secretly a demigod

Actor Eugene Brave Rock explained his character's background as a Native American demigod.


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Published Jun 26, 2017   Updated May 23, 2021, 1:52 am CDT

Native American smuggler Chief Napi was a relatively minor character in Wonder Woman, but his presence meant a lot. Director Patty Jenkins asked actor Eugene Brave Rock for creative input on his role, making sure that Chief would feel authentic and avoid the stereotypes of other Hollywood depictions of Native American characters.

In an interview with National Observer, Brave Rock said, “The control she gave me was unprecedented.” He gave advice on the design of his costume and weapons for the movie, and in his first scene, he greets Wonder Woman in Blackfoot.

That introductory scene had an extra layer of meaning, only noticeable to viewers who also speak Blackfoot. According to Indian Country Today, Chief introduced himself as Napi, a Blackfoot trickster demigod. Responding to a tweet from io9 writer/editor Beth Elderkin, Eugene Brave Rock confirmed his character was intentionally written as Napi—which could explain his miraculous survival as a smuggler in the trenches of World War I. He’s a superhuman character like Diana herself, with an origin story in Blackfoot creation myths.

This broadens the mythological background of the Wonder Woman franchise, confirming that Diana’s ancestors are not the only god-like figures in the DC universe. It’s also a rare example of thoughtful Native American representation in a Hollywood blockbuster, stemming from creative collaboration with a Native American performer.

H/T to Indian Country Today

Share this article
*First Published: Jun 26, 2017, 9:29 am CDT