Gunslingers and Outlaws: Ranking the Best Black Cowboy Movie Characters

watching a black cowboy movie

When it comes to classic Westerns and cowboy flicks, too many viewers underestimate the power and impact that Black culture has had on this art form. However, there’s a long history of iconic Black cowboy movie characters that you might overlook when you begin your deep-dive into this genre.

We’ve got you covered if you’re looking for your next favorite Black cowboy movie character. Here’s our list of favorite Black gunslingers and outlaws who’ve made their mark on the classic cowboy film genre. Let’s get started!

1. Django From “Django Unchained” (2012)

Let’s kick off our list of the best Black cowboy movie characters with one of the most iconic roles the 2010s brought us: that of Jamie Foxx as Django in Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained.” A formerly enslaved person, Django sets out to save his wife from an especially cruel plantation owner.

Django’s exhilarating adventure is all the more powerful because it challenges traditional Westerns, which have historically focused on White leads, and Foxx’s breathtaking performance as our unconventional hero. Django is magnetic – or, in his words, quite the entertaining little troublemaker.

2. Jesse Lee From “Posse” (1993)

Another iconic Black cowboy movie character is Jesse Lee from “Posse,” portrayed by director Mario Van Peebles. Following five Buffalo Soldiers betrayed by their colonel in the Spanish-American War, “Posse” focuses on the group’s brave leader, Jesse Lee, who looks to avenge his father’s murder while avoiding capture by the forces working against him.

This exciting tale is so effective because of our leading man, as Jesse bravely seeks retribution against those who have wronged him. What results is a classic Western with a twist, telling the story of an underrepresented group whose stories have finally been unleashed.

3. Nat Love From “The Harder They Fall” (2021)

Starring Jonathan Majors as Nat Love, “The Harder They Fall” tells the story of a man out for revenge on his enemy, who is released from jail. With an almost entirely Black cast, “The Harder They Fall” challenges traditional Western conventions for a film that is electric and thrilling with every twist and turn.

This Netflix Original gives us one of the most iconic Black cowboy movie characters in recent years, as Nat fearlessly seeks vengeance in a bite-your-nails adventure. If you haven’t added this movie to your list yet, now is the time!

4. Sam Chisolm From “The Magnificent Seven” (2016)

Another unforgettable role is Sam Chisolm from Antoine Fuqua’s “The Magnificent Seven,” portrayed by the always-amazing Denzel Washington. This iconic Black cowboy movie Gunslinger is one for the books, as Chisolm leads a group of seven gunmen on a journey to protect a young widow and save the town of Rose Creek from an industrialist’s private army.

Packed with action and some of the most exciting scenes from any modern Western film, “The Magnificent Seven” wouldn’t be the film it is without the character of Sam Chisolm, who takes on a leading role where other Westerns might shove him to the side. Washington’s commanding performance is magnetic, and we can’t help but watch Chisolm in awe every time we press replay.

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