Opinion TV & Movies

Is Marvel going the right way? 

A lot of fans are complaining that Marvel is trying too much to be politically correct in 2022. However, are those efforts the real problem?

Over 15 years and thirty films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has changed and developed. But not all of those changes have been appreciated by its fans. 

Marvel fans are increasingly complaining about what some see as a politically motivated and misguided use of diversity. While people are allowed to have their own opinions, I don’t think that greater diversity is the real problem. 

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is made up of the movies and TV series that are based off of Marvel Comics. The MCU movies started with Iron Man in 2008, and as of now, there are about 30 full length movies and many television series. They are collected into a shared universe, a long story that is told over several movies. These stories are divided into Phases with the most recent being phase 4.  Disney purchased the rights to distribute MCU movies  in 2009 when Iron Man 1 was released, and have been adding more content yearly.  The stories are exciting but to ensure that more movies and TV series can be made, Disney has made some decisions to make the stories as appealing as possible. Greater diversity in casting has been the most obvious choice.  

A really good example of diversity is the first Black Panther movie. The fictional country of Wakanda is in Africa and in the movie, it is an isolated country, so it is appropriate that the majority of characters are Black and that African culture is strongly represented. Even though diversity is a good thing, in this instance, it would have been out of place to have a racially diverse cast on screen. However, in a multicultural country like the United States, it does make sense for most movies to have a racially diverse cast of characters.

A bad example of the use of diversity in the MCU film was a scene in the movie “Avengers: End Game”, At the climax of the movie, when all the superheroes and villains were fighting against each other, a female superhero named “Captain Marvel” takes the “Infinity Gauntlet” — the main reason for the fight. As the villains try to take it back from her, all of the other female superheroes come to her aid. To be clear, it is not a bad example because Captain Marvel is a female superhero or that Marvel included other female superheroes into the scene to assist her. The problem was that it was filmed in such an obvious way that you were taken right out of the story. The scene was designed for people wanting more female representation. There were dozens of male superheroes and hundreds of male warriors on the battlefield, but for just this one scene, Marvel didn’t include any of them. Strong female characters are great, but the scene should still make sense. 

It shouldn’t matter that Disney is trying to include many different types of people in the MCU. They are a corporation and of course, they want to make money, so trying to appeal to every person makes business sense. 

But lately, the movies have been not just very culturally diverse and inclusive but also terribly forgetable. 

Being diverse and inclusive shouldn’t impact the quality of the story but Disney seems to be more focused on ensuring that everyone is represented even if it isn’t necessary or doesn’t make sense. They are not even thinking of the stories and how they should make the films. They seem to believe that fans will watch their films anyways even if they make the stories the worst. That is the real problem. Right now, the stories have gotten much worse than in the past. The characters are simply not interesting anymore even though they are more diverse.

When Disney was bringing Marvel Comics stories into movies, a small minority complained that they changed Nick Fury’s race from white to black. However, the writing was good and Samuel L. Jackson was able to make the character into something great. Being more diverse didn’t hurt the movie because more care was put into the writing. 

They are ruining many of the recent films with poorly done diversity; adding characters without giving them a good narrative. The result is that fans mistakenly believe that the stories are being ruined by the casting choices, not by the lack of quality in the storytelling. 

Iron Heart is a good example of this. She is a young, intelligent, black, female student who goes to MIT and Black Panther 2 was her first appearance in the MCU. This was similar to how Spiderman first appeared in the movie ‘Captain America: Civil War.’ However, the main difference between them is that Spiderman is a much more famous character compared to Iron Heart, and he had already starred in several of his own movies. Even people who didn’t watch MCU films knew about him. Iron Heart wasn’t known to the MCU movie fans, just to some Marvel Comics fans. Her appearance in Black Panther 2 was screen time that could have been spent on building on the main characters such as Shiri – an young, intelligent, black woman. By adding in Iron Heart, none of the characters got enough time. 
Including different types of people is a good thing. The majority of MCU fans won’t stop watching movies. Some of the fans though have started to leave. If Disney keeps doing what they are doing, ignoring their fans’ opinions and producing terrible boring stories, more and more fans may leave the MCU. What’s worse, is that they may start wrongly hating diverse casting and perhaps even turn against Disney.

Header image credit: Choo Yut Shing

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