marvel studios promises a commitment to diversity
Can we get Donald Glover as Spider-Man, pretty please?
Still from "Black Panther" via Everett Collection
The superhero genre is catching up to the times, at last. DC provided a feminist badass with the 2017 release of Wonder Woman and Marvel inspired black audiences with Black Panther and, in 2019, Captain Marvel will see a leading women enter the cinematic universe. Kevin Feige, president of production at Marvel Studios, recently talked to the film website Coming Soon about the studio making a commitment to continue diversifying its films. “The success of Black Panther, like a lot of things with the history of Marvel Studios, has just emboldened us to just continue doing that and to continue heading forward with that,” Feige shared.
Feige is a major powerplayer at Marvel, producing films that have earned a combined total of $16 billion at the box office. He touched on how closely superheroes’ stories match up to the immigrant experience, the characters facing fear, discrimination, and alienation. “...Any great science fiction stories where you’re dealing with things like alien races or wars but you’re really talking about contemporary society,” he argued. “You’re really talking about people which is what I love. It gives you something fun and entertaining to watch on screen because that’s what I wanna see when I go to the movies but you’re getting a message. Empathy is a great word that you’re saying and Ryan Coogler used to say something great when people would ask him, ‘Will non-people of color be able to see this movie?’ and he was like ‘Yes. I’ve watched white characters for so long and connected with them.’”
The effects of these empowering films reverberate far beyond the movie theater. Characters from Black Panther can now be spotted at Disney World, offering kids the chance to take photos with the Wakanda warriors. And who knows, maybe a full-fledged Wakanda experience could become part of the themes parks soon. We would be first in line to ride Black Panther’s flying Royal Talon Fighter.
There are plenty of POC and/or female characters for Marvel to give solo films to: Storm, Black Goliath, Spider-Woman, and the biracial iteration of Spider-Man, Miles Morales. A new phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is set to begin after the release of Avengers 4, so we’ll have to wait to see if the studio lives up to its promise.