• Cleverman creator Ryan Griffen (left) called for the Twitter hashtag #defineAboriginal after Pauline Hanson's comments. (NITV)Source: NITV
Hunter Page-Lochard has always loved superheroes, but the idea of playing one on screen always seemed out of reach - until now.
By
Ella Archibald-Binge

Source:
NITV News
2 Jun 2016 - 4:37 PM  UPDATED 2 Jun 2016 - 4:37 PM

Growing up, Hunter Page-Lochard was a "huge fan" of superheroes, from Star Wars to Marvel, X-Men to Spiderman. He even admits to having Spiderman wallpaper. 

But, as a young Aboriginal man, he never imagined he'd get the chance to play those characters on screen. 

"I remember always saying to my friends... 'I wish I could play Spiderman, but I never will'," he told NITV. 

Now, the 22-year-old's dream has become a reality, as he becomes Australia's first Indigenous superhero in Cleverman, ABC's groundbreaking new series.

"This is everything I dreamed of," he says.

"I wish I had this when I was young so I could go to school and be like 'well my favourite superhero is the Cleverman and he's a part of my own culture too'."

Watch the Cleverman trailer:

In Aboriginal culture, a cleverman is a spiritual man who acts as a conduit between the present and the dreaming, though each Aboriginal country's cleverman plays a different role.

In this series, Cleverman is a reluctant hero.

The show is set in the "very-near-future" in a dystopian society, where newly-discovered creatures known as "Hairypeople" must learn to co-exist with humans. It's up to Cleverman to bring the two worlds together. 

Since filming, Page-Lochard says he discovered he may have closer ties to his character than first thought.

"I think there's a little one-sixteenth cleverman somewhere in my pop's side, which is exciting," the Mununjali and Noonuccal man says. 

"If it's true it's a beautiful thing to have discovered."

Series creator Ryan Griffen came up with the concept while playing Ninja Turtles with his son Koen, after whom the lead character is named. 

The Gamilaroi man travelled to Indigenous communities around Australia to seek elders' permission to share elements of their ancient stories through the show. 

 "I would often say 'imagine if we could put our culture into a Harry Potter story', and they'd go 'oh my God!' and they were really excited about that," he says. 

The show features an 80 per cent Indigenous cast, with a high level of Aboriginal involvement on and off camera. 

Griffen hopes the series, which also airs in the US and UK, will provide more than just entertainment. 

"There's parts where you learn more about our culture, but also... first and foremost you learn how to treat people of difference."

Cleverman premieres on Thursday, June 2 at 9.30pm on ABC.