Black Panther comes out this weekend, Captain Marvel is a little over a year away, and Wasp is getting second billing to Ant-Man this summer. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is finally looking a little more like the real world in recent years. It’s taken too long but Marvel appears to be course correcting or at least expanding to include more people on their roster. Marvel mega-boss Kevin Feige recently spoke to Vulture about the myth that diversity lead movies don’t sell and that giving roles to people like Tessa Thompson was a “no-brainer”.
“Myths of what plays overseas or what doesn’t, or what type of person someone wants to see in a lead role … that’s all noise until somebody comes and disproves it,” said Feige. “Taking a character like Valkyrie and giving it to Tessa is a no-brainer. Yes, it becomes a think piece, it inspires hot takes, but she’s awesome! We knew she was awesome, and now the world knows she’s awesome. And the same thing [will happen] with DeWanda. For us, it’s about getting these unbelievable actors to agree to do these characters, the combination of which we hope will become iconic around the world.”
Next, Feige acknowledged that not having to think about diversity and representation is something that easy to take for granted that all cinematic heroes look like him ie: a white male.
“It’s something that’s easy to take for granted, growing up in the United States as a white male, that my cinematic heroes look like me,” said Feige. “I never thought they looked exactly like me, because I’m not a big athletic hero, but they do. It’s something that over the course of these ten years, having a certain amount of power over what type of movies are made and what type of actors we hire, I want everybody to have that feeling. We don’t take it for granted that people want to see themselves reflected in our heroes and our characters. That’s been the case in the comics for years, and, finally, that’s the case in the movies, and will only continue from here.”
Feige just did something that a lot of people are incapable of doing; he acknowledge how easy it is to forget about diversity and representation when they don’t effect you. He “checked his privilege” to use a term that’s been overused and misunderstood. It’s the same with racism or homophobia or any other form of prejudice; just because it doesn’t personally effect you doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. The fact that Feige can acknowledge that sometimes he forgets is important because that is the first step to being truly aware.
Summary: T’Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.
Black Panther, directed Ryan Coogler, stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and Martin Freeman. It will be released on February 16th.