The world has always been incredible diverse but only now are we seeing glimpses of this in our popular entertainment. Among those working on representation is Marvel Studios, the president of which Kevin Feige told Vulture that the company is taking increasing steps to add women and people of color to their blockbuster superhero films, which are often the most popular and highest-grossing movies in the world, year-to-year.
“I think that in the movies we’ve already made, and certainly in the movies that are coming up, it will be as inclusive a group of characters as one could want. For us, it’s important that we don’t feel like a completely white, European cast.”
The company’s newest film Doctor Strange has seen its fair share of racial controversy over appropriation and whitewashing. Beyond the lead character being a white man who adopts vaguely Eastern philosophy as his own, his mystic mentor the Ancient One was changed from an Asian man to a Celtic woman (recalling the remix of the Mandarin in Iron Man 3, a character which was also awfully stereotypically racist in the early comics), an attempt to avoid criticism that was itself criticized by the likes of George Takei.
“The comics have felt like that sometimes, in the early days. But frankly, even the comics in the ’60s … I mean, Black Panther was created in the ’60s. You look at Captain America’s team [back then]” — a group of Howling Commandoes that became even more diverse when brought to the big screen for Captain America: The First Avenger — and yes, there are things to cringe at, but they were being progressive at the time.”
Another example of diversity in Strange is Karl Mordo, a white, one-note villain in the comics played with real complexity by Chiwetel Ejiofor in the film, even if his role is another black sidekick to the white lead (a la War Machine & Falcon). And there’s more coming. Feige is particularly proud of the sprawling cast of next summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, which is filled with young performers of various shades and stripes.
“Our filmmaker came in and had pictures of real high schools, and they are as diverse as you could imagine. That was something that was important to us, to set it apart from other Spidey films that have been made — to carve that niche — and to have it represent the world today . . .It’s definitely important to us that these movies reflect the world.”
Doctor Strange hits theaters this Friday, Nov. 4.