BIPOC Voices, Entertainment

Marvel has a serious Diversity issue

Stan Lee wanted so much more for the the MCU.

words by: Alee Kwong
Nov 23, 2021

In 2020, Variety and PBS SoCal ran season 12 of “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.” The new season of the Emmy-winning series was filmed entirely from actors’ homes and includes one-on-one conversations between stars from potential contending shows in this year’s Emmy race. In one of the Variety Studio sessions, one of the Avengers brings up a very upsetting reality that has long been a problem in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

 

 

The issue of diversity and inclusion

When The Falcon and the Winter Soldier actor Anthony Mackie spoke one-on-one with Hamilton actor Daveed Diggs, he said:

 

“When The Falcon and The Winter Soldier comes out, I’m the lead. When Snowpiercer comes out, you’re the lead. We have the power and the ability to ask those questions. It really bothered me that I’ve done seven Marvel movies where every producer, every director, every stunt person, every costume designer, every PA, every single person has been white.”

 

It goes without saying that Marvel has created one hell of a cinematic universe, but that doesn’t mean that their system is flawless. Mackie continues by saying the following:

 

“But then when you do Black Panther, you have a Black director, Black producer, you have a Black costume designer, you have a Black stunt choreographer. And I’m like, that’s more racist than anything else. Because if you only can hire the Black people for the Black movie, are you saying they’re not good enough when you have a mostly white cast?”

 

 

The MCU moving forward

There wasn’t much diversity or inclusion in the previous three MCU phases, but we are seeing a rather seismic change in the agenda as we enter the fourth phase. At the start of 2021, Marvel Studios and Disney+ started to roll out their three streaming series, WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki. All of these series were meant to give us closure by individually following a group of Avengers and explaining the emotional aftermath of Avengers: Endgame. Each of these series boasted important non-white Marvel characters.

 

  • Monica Rambeau/Photon and Agent Jimmy Woo in WandaVision
  • Sam Wilson/Falcon/Captain America, Sarah Wilson, Ayo (a Dora Milaje from Captain America: Civil War) Lemar Hoskins/Battlestar, Isaiah and Eli Bradley, Joaquin Torres in Falcon and the Winter Soldier
  • He Who Remains/Kang the Conqueror, Boastful Loki, Ravonna Renslayer, and Hunter B-15 in Loki

 

In terms of diversity and inclusion in Marvel films, one of the first movies to usher in the new phase was Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. This is the very first Marvel movie to have nearly a quarter of the dialogue in foreign language and its reception was phenomenal, with the Rotten Tomatoes score maintaining a healthy 92% two months after its release. Eternals also has an incredibly diverse cast list with the likes of Gemma Chan, Salma Hayek, Don Lee, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, and Lauren Ridloff (who is also famously Marvel’s first deaf actress).

 

 

Future Marvel projects such as Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Ms. Marvel, The Marvels, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Ironheart, and Armor Wars are commitments to continue on with telling classic Marvel stories but making sure to include all walks of life that are represented in the world we live in. In the famous words of Marvel giant Stan Lee, “Those stories have room for everyone, regardless of their race, gender, religion, or color of their skin…the only things we don’t have have room for are hatred, intolerance, and bigotry.”

 

In other Marvel news, a Marvel producer says Eternals doesn’t need a sequel and here’s a list of actors/actresses that have played multiple Marvel characters.

 

Photo via Sophie Mutevelian/Marvel Studios and Geek Vibes Nation