My open letter to Marvel about diversity and representation. Please signal boost this so it can reach the people that can make a difference.
I have some points I’d like to raise in regard to diversity in the comics and on screen along with the way your website is set out. I couldn’t find an email address to send this to anyone higher up in the company so I’m sending this to as many different people as I can in the hope that my message can be passed up the chain to reach the people that have the power to change things.
I’m one of the young women that make up your fan base for both the comics, TV shows and movies. However, I feel that representation isn’t as equal for all groups. A lot of your heroes are straight, white men ~ particularly in the MCU. There are far less female characters, people of colour and LGBT characters. In an interview with Vulture, Kevin Feige said (this is a direct quote) “ 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.” but I disagree with this, it’s not strictly correct. How many of the comics headed by the minorities are being canceled because they aren’t popular enough? I have read multiple articles stating that Marvel is blaming the decrease in comic book sales on the increase in diversity not on the high prices for comic books, or the high number of large events followed by reboots of popular characters. Marvel’s Vice President of Sales, David Gabriel said “What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity. They didn’t want female characters out there. That’s what we heard, whether we believe that or not. I don’t know that that’s really true, but that’s what we saw in sales.We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against. That was difficult for us because we had a lot of fresh, new, exciting ideas that we were trying to get out and nothing new really worked.” When the company looks at the sales of comic books, it doesn’t wait until a series comes out as a trade paperback before cancelling it (Iceman). Comics like Ms Marvel and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl find their success as trade paperbacks. In the last 12 months, The Mighty Thor #700 and The Return of Jean Grey made it into the top ten comics.
Agents of Shield however, offers a diverse cast. It features Asian, Chinese, Mexican and Colombian actors along with people of colour and a gay inhuman character. The show is fantastic, deserving of much higher ratings. The female characters the show has are fantastic, they show strong women in various positions in the team. Bobbi Morse shows that women can not only be strong, independent fighters but intelligent scientists in their own right. Skye/Daisy Johnson/Quake/Mary Sue Poots shows that it doesn’t matter where you come from, you can become something brilliant. A strong, powerful woman with the capability to lead. Melinda May shows that even if you are haunted by your past, you can overcome it, let it become part of you and help others do the same. Elena Rodriguez / Yo-yo shows that extraordinary people can arise from unexpected changes in your life. Her first response to gaining powers from Terrigenesis is to use them to fight the corruption in the Colombian police. Jemma Simmons has to be my favourite out of all of them though. She’s a bad ass Biochemist who has been through so much and still fights for what she believes is right, basing her decisions off scientific fact. She’s also a gifted scientist, producing numerous innovations very quickly on her own and as part of a team with Leopold Fitz. To me, I see all of these women as inspirations, especially Jemma Simmons as she is the kind of woman and scientist I aspire to be. I’m seventeen and in September, I’m going off to University to study for a Masters degree in Biochemistry so I can become a Cancer researcher. Because of this and how Simmons is portrayed on the show I see her as an idol, someone to aspire to equal. Agents of shield fully deserves the renewal it hopes for.
The MCU however, is slightly lacking. Until Captain Marvel comes out next year, in the ten years of the MCU there hasn’t been a movie led by a female character. Doesn’t the hype for Black Panther in the Black community show that people that aren’t usually represented on the big screen want to be represented? If a movie featuring a female lead or LGBT lead was released it would likely have the same response to its release. In the build up to its release, Captain Marvel will hopefully have the same response. It should also be time of Marvel to introduce one of its existing LGBT characters into the MCU. If the response of people to Love,Simon is anything to go by (I loved it), then it’s time.
Something that I think is also wrong, is the massive over sexualization of female superheroes in the comics. Most that I’ve seen have massively inappropriate costumes that resemble swimwear more than an actually appropriate costume. Nearly all of them show the heroes with their breasts and cleavage on display with their butts barely covered. If similar costumes were worn by men there would be outrage and they would likely be changed. If you then look at male heroes, the most that their costumes show are muscle. Nothing barely contained or covered. The costumes are actually practical for purpose.
Something I did notice when on the official Marvel website, you can go on a page named women of marvel (https://marvel.com/characters/list/996/women_of_marvel) it only actually shows seven female heroes when in fact, there are more than just Black Widow, Captain Marvel, Medusa, Ms Marvel, Scarlet Witch, She-Hulk and Storm. For some unknown reason they have been excluded.
Speaking of female heroes, there is a distinct lack of merchandise featuring the female heroes. This annoys me because if some of my favourite characters from the movies are actually featured in the toys and lego sets I might have actually bought some. If be some rare miracle, that they are included in the toy sets for a movie then they are replace by another character in one of their key scenes. An example of this is the motorbike chase in Age of Ultron where Black Widow is replaced by Captain American in the resulting toys.
If you could pass this on to people that would be able to respond to this I would be very grateful,