Marvel Studios and Diversity

This post originally appeared on Panels, which is now Book Riot Comics

We here at Panels are taking some much needed time off; in the meantime, we’re revisiting some favorite old posts from the last 6 months! We’ll see you back on July 8 with all new posts for your enjoyment.

This post originally ran on February 2, 2015.
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marvelstudios

By now, I’m sure you all have heard that movie-Spider-Man is coming home to Marvel Studios. The announcement from Marvel hinted at the Web Slinger’s first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and gave us a release date for the first movie in an even newer Spider-Man film franchise.

The first part of the announcement has me the most excited. I’m really digging this expanded universe Marvel Studios has been working on, and bringing Marvel’s flagship character into the fold opens up some really awesome opportunities. But as I kept reading, the smile on my face kept getting smaller.

This new Spider-Man movie is set to be released on July 28, 2017, bumping Thor: Ragnarok back to November 3, 2017, in turn bumping Black Panther to July 6, 2018, which in turn bumps Captain Marvel to November 2, 2018. This means, we’ll see yet another Spider-Man movie (the 6th since 2002) before Marvel Studios puts out films with a woman or person of color as the lead. This is a conscious decision made by the studio. And I think that is what has me most discouraged.

Back to new-new Spider-Man for a bit. If you’re going to talk about rebooting the Spider-Man franchise while the most recent version hasn’t technically finished, you better have a damn good reason. Both Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures being able to use the character is not a strong enough reason for me, as an audience member, to be excited. To be blunt, I’m Batman-levels of disinterested at the idea of more Peter Parker movies.

could-marvel-introduce-miles-morales-to-their-cinematic-universe-454c8565-c1c4-44a9-97a2-188dd7424d88But, if Marvel and Sony are planning to give us Miles Morales Spider-Man, that would be something I would be very excited about. Narratively speaking, Miles as Spidey would be a clear difference for the non-comics reading movie audiences as to why there’s going to be a Spider-Man reboot so soon. This is a new character taking up the mantle with a new story to tell. This is not the same origin story you’ve seen twice on the big screen.

More importantly, it would put a Black-Latino character as the lead of a new superhero franchise. Which brings us back to the last part of the Marvel Studios announcements: pushing back Black Panther and Captain Marvel.

To date, the title character of every Marvel Studios film has been a white male. As for the team movies, there is no doubt that Guardians of the Galaxy is Peter Quill’s movie; and The Avengers doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test and cast a white actress to play the role of a Latina character.

Marvel Studios has a diversity problem. Their movies are well-made, entertaining, and just plain fun. I enjoy the hell out of Marvel movies and I don’t see that changing. But it doesn’t change the fact that the studio will have released 16 (possibly 17) movies led by white males before making a film led by a POC or a woman.

Guardians of the Galaxy made about $775 million despite the talking raccoon, walking tree, and other characters no one outside the comics reading community knew existed. There are no more excuses as to why we don’t have a Black Widow film. Which suggests that the diversity problem Marvel Studio has is not one they’re invested in fixing.

So prove me wrong, Marvel. Make Miles Morales your MCU Spider-Man. Start working on the Captain Marvel movie before you make Doctor Strange. Cast a POC actor in a white character role. Get Kamala Khan on the big (or small) screen. We’re dying of thirst for these kinds of projects, and you’ve proven you can sell anything. So stop making excuses and do it.

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