Marvel’s not-so-secret superpower: diversity in comics

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Marvel’s not-so-secret superpower: diversity in comics

Courtesy of Moviepilot.com

Courtesy of Moviepilot.com

Courtesy of Moviepilot.com

You stand on the corner of a busy street. Suddenly, a stolen armored truck hurtles by, police cars in pursuit. What is this? The city’s guardian is flying above the chaos. With tights of neon and muscles of metal, the hero rockets towards the criminals.

What does this person of power look like? Do you picture a man or a woman? What ethnicity are they?

Diversity of characters is important, even to superheroes. In the past couple of years, the two major comic book producers, Marvel and DC, have sought to cleanse their cinematic universes of whitecentric attitudes to varying degrees of success.

As it stands, both are making positive strides toward a more inclusive environment. Though DC has made promising plans, developments in Marvel Universe place it one step ahead.

“Both Marvel and DC have been making steps towards diversifying their casts of characters,” said Early College junior Harris Billings. “It would seem like Marvel, with plans for a female Thor, a black Captain America, and a massive list of queer characters, has done a better job than DC.”

Recently, DC formally announced the release dates for all of their feature films for the next six years. The films cover a wide variety of franchises and characters.

In the announcement, we discovered that Wonder Woman will finally get her own movie, and that is fantastic. Even better, she has been given a suit that does not make her look like a doll.

“The new costume looks much more functional,” said senior Patrick Withrow in an email interview. “It’s a definite improvement over the classic costume.”

The new costume, shown off in a few promotional images, clads our fearless heroine in a suit of bronze. The armor still shows skin, actress Gal Gadot’s legs are still plainly visible, but the character looks more battle-ready than ever.

The promise of a new Wonder Woman movie, with a strong, capable protagonist, bodes well for DC Comics and their rapidly expanding universe, but is it enough to top Marvel?

“(In Marvel Universe) we have a female Thor and a black Spiderman in the comics,” said Early College graduate Jordan Smith ‘14 in an email interview. “DC has a Wonder Woman movie on the way, but Marvel seems to be doing the best overall.”

The rise of the Avengers franchise saw Black Widow, played by strongwilled Scarlett Johansson, rise to prominence on the screen.

“I’d say Marvel is definitely making more of an effort,” said Smith. “Captain America 2 handled diversity really well, with Falcon and Black Widow written beautifully.”

Though Marvel has confirmed there are no plans for a solo Black Widow movie, her powerful role, along with new announcements for a female-led Captain Marvel movie, make the future of the Marvel cinematic universe look uniquely diverse.

It seems both production companies have finally recognized the importance of heroes of color. DC recently announced that a Cyborg movie is scheduled for 2020.

The idea of Cyborg, an AfricanAmerican hero, getting his own movie is great, but again Marvel has beaten DC to the superpowered punch.

On Oct. 28, Marvel revealed that Chadwick Boseman had been cast as the Black Panther in a film scheduled for 2017, becoming the first person of color to lead a Marvel hero movie.

“The idea of a Black Panther movie is certainly progress,” said Withrow. “Any progress is good progress. I just wish it had come sooner.”

Both of these comic producers have made great strides toward more diverse casts, one more than the other. Looking into the future, even further than currently announced schedules allow, we can still hope for more change.

“As for the future, I would like to see more bold decisions being made,” said Billings. “Representation is extremely important, especially in media targeted towards such a universal audience as superhero movies and comics.”