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.”
Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, has been deliberately working to make the Marvel Cinematic Universe reflect the real world.
“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.”
Feige’s cast and crew agree with him. Ryan Coogler, the director of the Black Panther movie, is excited about his movie. The cast of Black Panther is 90 percent African or African-American.
“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.”
In the comic books, Baron Mordo is a white man and the Ancient One is an Asian man. In the new Doctor Strange movie staring Benedict Cumberbatch, Mordo will be played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, CBE, a British actor of Nigerian heritage, and the Ancient One will be played by Tilda Swinton. Ejiofor spoke of the importance of more diverse casting.
“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.”
There have been several superheroes who used the code-name Captain Marvel. The Telegraph reported that the new movie will star Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, the Air Force officer who becomes Captain Marvel. Captain Marvel will not only focus on a superheroine who is more than a “plucky girl sidekick” and/or love interest for the hero, it will be written by Nicole Perlman and Meg LeFauve. It’s rumored that Marvel Studios wants a female director for the movie, possibly Jennifer Kent, Niki Caro, or Reed Morano.
Spider-Man: Homecoming will also feature a more diverse cast, reflecting the population of a modern New York City public high school.
Related articles from The Inquisitr, a journal that has long been concerned with diversity:
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 next paragraph contains spoilers for The Killing Joke film.
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.
Website io9 complained of how The Killing Joke devalued Barbara Gordon.
“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.”
DC may be showing some improvement with Suicide Squad. The movie features several Black actors (Will Smith as Deadshot, Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc), as well as Hispanic and Japanese-American actors (Jay Hernandez as El Diablo, Karen Fukuhara as Katana). The movie features several complex female characters: Amanda Waller, Katana, the Enchantress (played by Cara Delevingne), and fan favorite Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie).
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]