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The State Of Diversity At MARVEL

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a race logo The State Of Diversity At MARVELThe Marvel Universe is more diverse than ever with more characters representing the America I see outside my window.

This week Marvel announced the lineup of their newest Mighty Avengers team: Luke Cage, She-Hulk, The Blue Marvel (please look this dude up, he is awesome!), White Tiger, Power Man and Spider-Man.  The team has two African-American characters, an Afro-Dominican character and a Latino character.  Years ago this would not have been possible and would have been viewed as diversity being “shoved down people’s throats”.

This roster, as well as the overall diversification of the Avengers, is inspiring because it breaks the rule of three, that “if there are three black people in it, it is a black product… You can have two black guys, although it is a stretch; if you have three it is a black show”.  It’s impressive that Marvel’s fan base has not made this an issue.  Although most writers of the diverse titles have been white, there is no doubt that if they had been black or Latino, many fans would have felt more threatened by the diversification.  Here are three brands showing refreshing progress related to race and diversity in comics.

The Avengers

avengers 2 seven team members The State Of Diversity At MARVEL

The Avengers titles have seen the most changes to integrate their membership.  Brian Michael Bendis made Luke Cage a star attraction in New Avengers.  Cage is one of the deepest characters in comics and one of the only to balance his life as a hero, husband and father (recently leaving the team to spend more time with his wife and child).  He was the heart of the New Avengers, and his acceptance as their leader influence the push for more diversity within the other Avengers titles.  Jonathan Hickman’s main Avengers title has a diverse cast including Eden Fesi (Aboriginal Australian), Sunspot (Brazilian), the new Captain Universe (African-American), Cannonball (country boy), Shang-Chi (Chinese), the Falcon (African-American), and more joining each day as the team expands.   Hickman’s New Avengers has put Black Panther center stage and gave the character much needed direction after he got lost during his run as the Man Without Fear (still pissed about that bullcrap).  Young Avengers features a Latino Miss America, as well as one of the best couples in comics, Hulkling and Wiccan.

Rick Remender’s Uncanny Avengers directly deals with issues of the integration of the mutant and human population which have always been an analogy for race relations.  The title had a lot of potential but Remender has shown no insight or sensitivity to the race issues it deals with.  While Remender is a talented writer, his insensitivity towards minorities has led to me boycotting his work.  I felt uneasy with the team’s creation when it was deemed the “unity” squad; portraying integration under the control of a non-mutant Captain America as the way to peace (please do not debate that Havok is the leader, he is the token “good mutant” chosen by Captain America).

Compared to X-Men, Avengers is still a man’s team, filled with hyper-testosteroney muscle heads. One cannot refer to the Avengers without mentioning the big three- Captain America, Iron Man and Thor, but Black Widow is quickly become one of the major players.  On the other hand, Young Avengers has done a wonderful job creating strong, memorable female characters.

X-Men

a 2702185 cm cyclops super The State Of Diversity At MARVEL

The X-Men have historically been a radical analogy for diversity, race, religion and sexuality.  In the past, most tales have been the integrationist X-Men vs the ignorant racists vs the “evil mutants” who believe in mutant solidarity and power.  Over the past few years, many X-Men have matured and taken on different views.  No longer are there “good mutants” and “evil mutants” within the X-Men mythos, instead there are differing ideologies, some more extremist than others, but all are portrayed with empathy.

In the 1990’s when I first started reading comics, fans were compelled to choose between Marvel and DC; Today, fans chose between the Cyclops’ mutant separatist and mutant power themed Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine’s integrationist team, and the view point of the ignorant oppressive Avengers(AKA the machine).

storm idie cagril m The State Of Diversity At MARVEL

Love this pic of some of the strong X-Women!

The X-Men recently had a bestselling launch of a self-titled series starring an all-female cast.  The success of Storm, Rogue, Kitty Pryde, Psylocke, Jubilee and Rachel Grey shows the marketability and potential of strong female characters.

Miles Morales

a milesmorales The State Of Diversity At MARVEL

Ultimate Comics: Spiderman is the best written series in the Marvel Universe.  Miles Morales is the star of the series; a multi-racial, half black, half Latino Spider-Man who juggles family, school, friends and heroics with the same guilt, neurotic-ism and anxiety that everyone loves about Spidey.  Morales learned that “with great power comes great responsibility” due to the guilt of seeing Peter Parker die while he did nothing due to fear.  His title is an emotional roller coaster featuring a supporting cast that is both relate-able and realistic.  He added much needed diversity to the mythos of one of the major players in the Marvel Universe.

I believe that, in a few years, if Marvel sticks with Morales as Spidey, he will be an iconic hero, hopefully headlining the Spider-Man reboot we should have gotten last year.

miles The State Of Diversity At MARVEL

Marvel is definitely moving forward.  We still do not have much religious diversity.  As a whole, most females are always drawn with the same body (oy).  The Northstar wedding seemed to highlight the lack of gay and homosexual characters more than anything, but we are making progress.  (Granted, I haven’t mentioned many other demographics still lacking in representation.)  We fangirls and fanboys represent diverse demographics. We are united by our love for the mutants, freaks, heroes and villains of the marvel U; A marvel U that is looking and feeling more like us.

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Jay Deitcher, LMSW(@mrdeitcher) embraces the term MUTANT and proudly represents his MUTANT brothers and sisters.  He is an educator on comic history and runs successful Free Comic Book Day events yearly.  You can see a listing of his incredible articles at JayDeitcher.com.

S#!T Talking Central

  • tulips

    An ultimate spider-man movie with Jaden Smith? God no…

    • Jay

      yeah, I’m not sure I would want Jaden playing Miles, but I wish they relaunched the Spider-Man franchise with Miles. Death stories are the go to story to get buys in the comic industry but we have not seen a major charecter die in the movies, they should have had an incredibly emotional death story for Peter for the first half of the movie, then went into Miles’ story for the second half to lead into a new series of movies.

  • comicbookssucktoday

    I think Marvel’s moves in these directions suck and just show they have nothing of quality to produce any more because they have run of out ideas on their 50 plus “universe”

    • Jay

      No way, these were all well done progressions of the Marvel universe. I feel like there is so much to explore, especially with my favorite franchise, the X-men. The past few years have redefined the team and the race analogies have just grown deeper with many more views portrayed in the fight for mutant rights. It is great stuff.

      • Gary Freeman

        But to change it just to seem diverse is lazy.

  • AL

    If Marvel makes an ultimate spiderman movie the WORST thing they could do would be to let jaden smith be in it. But his dad would probably buy him that movie part just like he did all of his other ones.

    • Razor Blade

      Did you say that about Robert Downey Jr, Kate Hudson, Drew Barrymore, Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal or George Clooney??

  • buckaroob

    Jaden Smith negates anything you may have said in this article.

  • Brandon

    I’ll pass every day of the week on that movie idea. Jaden Smith shouldn’t be on the big screen. Let alone in a big budget Marvel movie.

  • Theron

    I’d like to see Jaden play spiderman – that way when no one sees it they can’t blame it on the film not having a fan base but simply because he has no star power or talent

  • thunder_storm

    Stopped reading at the image of Jaden Smith being Spider-Man.

    • WoWed

      so you skipped all of 1 paragraph?

      • kylel999

        Might as well have skipped it all. There was no meat to the article.

        We can sum it up. Marvel isn’t totally racist. Yay.

        There ya go.

        The truth is, Marvel can make 1000 new titles dealing with everything from hermaphrodite black dwarfs to Latino half donkey woman troglodytes. If it finds traction with an audience, it stays. The current run of Ultimate Spiderman has traction due to decent writing. Not because Spidey is a few shades darker.

        Diversification for the sake of “inclusion” is idiotic. It leads to terrible storylines and focus on someone’s background vs good writing and someone’s motivation.

        • Gary Freeman

          THANK YOU. I’ve been called racist I don’t know how many freaking times. I think it really shows laziness on Marvel’s part to replace one character with a character of different skin color just to show they can be diverse. It’s pure lazy. Instead of creating new and interesting characters that can stand on their own, they are lazily piggy backing them on established characters. Miles Morales wouldn’t be interesting if he had a bad writer writing him.

          • Jamaal Reece

            Man, that is perhaps one of the worst responses I have ever heard. “Miles Morales wouldn’t be interesting if he had a bad writer writing him.” Man, you can very well say that for virtually every character. Also, that’s not even fair to the character of Miles, as he’s only had one writer for the bulk of his conception. In my estimation, it just sounds like both you, and the guy above you needed something to complain about in an otherwise positive article. As a long time reader, I for one, am ecstatic about the diversity that Marvel made for itself. You say it shows laziness. I say it shows character; because we both know most of these will not sell like a Spiderman, or a Wolverine, or a Avengers title. You know who struck a chord with me growing up? The original black ranger; I, and many or children of color. And I am whole-heartily grateful for that. Its about accessibility. And to insinuate that writing a story about a person of color can result in bad writing (a fact that applies to ANY character) is bull&*%. The fact that neither you, nor the guy above you can see this, is telling. Perhaps there’s a reason you’re called racist so much.

  • Mike

    Jaden Smith as Spiderman eh… wonder how much daddy would need to pay for that to happen.

    • Gary Freeman

      At least 10% of the overall budget for the film.

  • Steven

    Stop trying to make Jaden Smith happen…it’s not going to happen

  • Aurelio Aguilar

    I agree 100% with you Garry Freeman, it seems that Marvel is trying to reinvent characters just for the sake of being called diverse. What kind of crap is that? If they really want to be different then they should just create new BAD ASS CHARACTERS that people actually like instead of trying to reinvent established charaters PETER PARKER WILL ALWAYS BE SPIDERMAN no matter how many years pass by and so will the rest! Nick Fury was perfectly fine before they changed him into Samuel L Jackson. Why couldnt they just given Jackson a totally new character or he could have played the Black Panther in another stand alone movie and problem solved.

    • Jamaal Reece

      Okay. Explain. Who besides Nick Fury and Spiderman did they “reinvent?” And even still both the original Peter Parker AND the original Nick Fury exist in the main universe. You speak as if this is some huge epidemic. Oh my God- what an outrage! Even in the cinematic universe they only changed Nick Fury (and technically, he already existed) and Heimdall. But let me guess, that’s just 2 too many for you, huh? And how about the Mandarin not being Chinese. Or Hammer being portrayed by a young man, instead of an old man. If you’re gonna complain, be fair all around. And to even suggest that Samuel L. Jackson of all people, portray the Black Panther (a pick just as terrible as Jaden as Miles- maybe even more so), tells me all I need to know about your viewpoint.

  • BmoreRamsFan8

    I know 1 movie I wouldn’t see, rent or watch if it comes out. We haven’t even got a good movie with Venom in it and your talking about Ultimate Spider Man. Marvel could come out with a bunch of movies before even introducing Ultimate Spider Man. If Marvel wants to do anything…. Make a couple What If movies. I always liked those comics. Still have a couple of them.

  • TheEntireHumanRace

    Unless Miles Morales is permanently supposed to look like he just found out his gerbil died keep Will Smiths spawn/clone/puppet the hell away.

  • Syntro

    Power Man and Luke Cage are the same person :O

  • Sherita Robinson

    I don’t understand why people on here don’t like Jaden. He is a good Actor, I don’t care if his dad paid for it or not, every one out there had help from somebody to get to where they are now.

  • John smith

    I am the biggest spiderman fan. I have seen all the movies in the theatre and purchased them all. I have seen a few of them a couple of times in the theatre but there is no way that I will go see Jaden play Spiderman. This is awful

  • Noneya Biznazz

    Wow, its almost as if you just hate white men.

    • LIBERTYSINCURSION

      Being a white man who prefers to not make love to dicks is a crime,,,,,,,,,, coming soon to a court house near you?

  • Todd Anderson

    PETER PARKER WILL ALWAYS BE SPIDERMAN,I can also see other ppl as spider-man in other time lines or alternative time lines but peter is spider-man in my book.

  • Razor Blade

    I for one of millions! Would love to see Jaden Smith play Spider man! He has the persona and good acting chops! I believe he can do way better then Andrew Garfield! The problem Jaden Smith critics have with him is they’re just not accustomed to seeing black superheros, intellectuals, leaders or blacks who ain’t handling a ball or rapping. I’m certain they wouldn’t classify themselves as racist but what other explanation do they have? His color goes against the character, he can’t act…. Thus far hollywood seems to think otherwise. Don’t take my word ask the millions who’ve tried!! And as for him riding the coat tails of his parents SO WHAT how many actors road their famous parents coat tails to fame!!!

  • Razor Blade

    At least I can give Marvel accolades for evolving on the issue of race! Unfortunately can say the same for some of the knuckle dragging fans…

    • Noneya Biznazz

      Fine, then lets make Luke Cage an East Indian.

      • http://www.culturewarreporters.com/ CultureWarReporterEvan

        As far as Black Nick Fury is concerned, the MCU has very much taken after the Ultimate line of comics, so it makes perfect sense. I mean, they had Samuel L. Jackson in mind when they created him for that.

        I’m one hundred percent all about diversity, but I more or less agree with you about changing ethnicities of well-established characters. On that note, how would you feel if Danny Rand was at least half-Asian? That would sort of offset the whole “White guy is as good, no, better than the people who created said thing” trope which surrounds him currently.

        • Noneya Biznazz

          I dunno, are racial stereotypes better when they’re positive?

          Saying he couldn’t be better is saying no-one can do martial arts as good as asians… which is more overtly racist than having a white guy do it.

          Make Iron Fist a black female and you have your next blockbuster, or at least thats how it seems to be going these days in the minds of the powers that be.

          It seems that not everyone is allowed their positive role-models.

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