Marvel Bridges Diversity Gap With Black Panther And Captain Marvel; DC Tries With Wonder Woman But Fumbles With Batgirl (SPOILERS)

Susan Macdonald

Comic books and comic book-based movies and TV shows have long had a diversity problem. For decades they've been written primarily by white males, for white males, with only token (and often clumsy) attempts at diversity. However, Marvel and DC, the two giants of the comic book world, are making active attempts to bridge the diversity gap. At the moment, Marvel is succeeding better than DC.

USA Today praised Marvel's improvements in diversity. Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Doctor Strange all feature more diverse casting.

"The Marvel Cinematic Universe just became a bigger and more diverse place."

"As the comics have done, we want everyone to recognize themselves in every portion of our universe. With the Black Panther and Spider-Man casts especially, it really feels like this is absolutely what has to happen and continue."
"As a Black comic-book fan, I couldn't help but to be excited about that. And it's really overwhelming to think about, honestly, but I'm really excited about us opening up the world a little more."

"These films really represent diversity in cinema, and that's clearly the crucial part: that we represent the world we live in and the different people and genders we encounter."

Related articles from The Inquisitr, a journal that has long been concerned with diversity:

San Diego Comic-Con 2016: 'The Walking Dead's Danai Gurira Cast In Marvel's Black Panther Movie

It's Official! Brie Larson Is The New Captain Marvel!

'Wonder Woman' Trailer Premieres At Comic-Con

Marvel Hires Black Women Writers For New 'Black Panther' Series With Ta-Nehisi Coates

Brie Larson: Will She Join The Marvel Cinematic Universe As Captain Marvel?

Black Panther Helps Marvel Bridge The Diversity Gap

DC is also attempting to increase its diversity, with mixed success. The trailer for Wonder Woman was released at San Diego Comic-Con, and those who saw it were impressed. Wonder Woman had a female director, Patty Jenkins, but male writers, Allan Heinberg, Geoff Johns, and Zack Snyder.

The Killing Joke, one of the most popular, yet most controversial Batman stories, has been made into an R-rated animated movie. Bleeding Cool reports that fans are livid by a crucial change made to the storyline. In The Killing Joke, Joker shoots Batgirl, leaving her paralyzed. He takes naked pictures of her, which he sends to her father, Commissioner Gordon. It's deliberately left ambiguous whether or not Joker raped Batgirl. This is canon, and as the Inquisitr reported, even writer Alan Moore thought he'd gone too far, saying it was too dark and violent. However, in the new movie, Batman and Batgirl (here begin spoilers!) have an intimate relationship. This, according to some fans, makes Joker's attack on Batgirl not a villain attacking a superheroine, but a villain attacking a superhero's love interest. The attack is not to advance the plot, nor against Batgirl in her own right, but to motivate Batman by harming "his woman." In other words, DC stuffed Batgirl into a refrigerator.

"The Killing Joke movie has indeed added more Batgirl—now, she's a jilted romantic interest who only exists in the story to justify Batman's ongoing conflict with The Joker."

Are comic books and superhero movies making enough of an effort to achieve racial and sexual diversity? Tell us in the comments section below if you think they're succeeding at diversity or not.

[Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]