We’ve seen myriad depictions of the Magical Negro on screen. Some, like Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty, are omnipotent. Some, like Chris Rock in Dogma, bring comedy relief and strange hair. And then others, like Anthony Mackie in The Adjustment Bureau, are basically motion-sensor lights for white people.
But none of these Magic-ass Negroes are as magic as Donald Glover was in The Martian. He was so magic, in fact, that he completely subverted and transcended the trope, like a lie so big that it circles back to the truth.
1. He’s on screen for like seven minutes total.
2. While on screen, he wakes up, yawns, and solves one math problem that saves the lives of five white people and one Latino, saves the jobs of countless others, and brings happiness to the entire world.
3. The only credit he receives for this act is that someone, like, half-raises a coffee cup in his direction during the credits—like he discovered a new noodle spot on Uber Eats and didn’t just save the life of the World’s Greatest White Man.
In fact, not only does he not get any credit, they actively act annoyed by him. Like he just hit “reply all” to respond to a staff email about pencils and didn’t just save fucking NASA.
That’s seven minutes of screen time and five white lives saved. This is Peak Magical Negroing. No one has ever beaten that ratio.
Also, if you are a person who 1) is reading this and 2) has seen The Martian, there’s an approximately 62 percent chance that you completely forgot Donald Glover was even in that movie. PEAK. NIGGA. MAGIC.