Avi Arad: Diverse Futures, Passed [Opportunities]

It happened in an instant.

One moment film producer Avi Arad was sleeping peacefully in his bed, the second a chilling sensation ran the course of his entire body, forcing his eyes open. He could feel it in his gut, the dreadful realization that this was it. There was no going back to the way things were before.

Standing up, he wearily made his way over to the bedroom window. He looked out upon a world that continued to doze, blissfully unaware. They had no idea what had just taken place, how everything had changed.

Inwardly he took some small solace in the fact that he had expected this. Those who can foresee what is to come, even if powerless to stop it, can revel in making the choices that will one day become unavailable to them.

Everything was different now, and he knew that. This was a brand new world, one he had no part in creating.

For those who aren’t in the know, Avi Arad was once the chief creative officer for Marvel Entertainment and founder of Marvel Studios. In spite of stepping down from any positions he had with the company he continues to produce some of their films, in particular the recently released The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

As someone who has had such a constant and steady hand in guiding the character’s cinematic existence [he has produced all five films] any questions about what could occur in that universe are his to answer. One that people have been particularly curious about is whether Miles Morales, the half-Black half-Latino Spider-Man of the Ultimate line of comics could make it onto the big screen.

In an interview with Indiewire both Arad and co-producer Matt Tolmach were asked: “[Is] Miles Morales (“Ultimate Spider-Man”) […] on the table?”

Tolmach was concise and to the point, saying “No.” Arad said the same and then proceeded to explain that having multiple versions of the character would be unwise. Just to make certain a follow-up was asked, his next answer more in line with his co-producer’s:

So Spider-Man in the cinematic realm will always be Peter Parker?

Absolutely.

A little over a week after that interview another took place, this one being posted over at /Film.  Huge props to Angie Han, who did the questioning, for not beating around the bush when it came to breaching a topic that others may try to skirt around [added emphasis mine].

I wanted to ask you about diversity in comic book movies, namely the fact that there isn’t very much right now. It’s mostly white men. But I know that you cast black men as Electro, and as Human Torch in the Fantastic Four sequel you’re exec producer on. Do you consider the lack of diversity in comic book movies an issue? Is that something you think about when you’re casting?

I think, one, we do have diversity, finally. Because when comics were written, late ’50s, early ’60s, the comic book universe, or for that matter the country, they didn’t know there were anybody but white people here. [Laughs] And they’re all white. […] But I think we are finally becoming more of one world, and you’re going to see more and more diversity in the selection of characters. That will be — it’s about the actor, it’s about the audition. It’s not about saying, ‘Well, in the comic he was white, so he cannot be…’ You know, Nick Fury was white… It’s all going to change. I think sometimes we consciously look at it. We would love to have a superhero, we would love Marvel to create a superhero — We can create villains, but we’d love to have a Chinese superhero with something that is really interesting and how they got here, and what is their issue, and so on. But it’s coming. And it’s inevitable. It’s really inevitable. But it didn’t come naturally to comics in the days that no one was aware that there were actually other countries and other people. 

Over at The Mary Sue writer Susana Polo really outlines the problems in his response, and I strongly suggest you read what she has to say. What it all really boils down to, though, is what Arad decided to end on. Polo notices his comment about how “inevitable” diversity is and wonders [emphasis mine]:

“But if the producer of Marvel’s second longest lived film franchise has to wait for change instead of creating it, where are we expecting that change to come from?

That’s the reason I prefaced this post with a short fiction piece, because all I’m left with having read what he has to say is that he 100% believes it. It’s like he actually envisions a future where Hollywood is a place of such racial diversity that the White man stands apart without a role to sustain him.

Arad tells us that “it’s coming,” like some sort of robot apocalypse set to enslave mankind. Here’s my suggestion, though: if this really is the future why avoid it? Why not take a page from Jeopardy extraordinaire Ken Jennings and just go along with it?

aviaradkenjennings

If this is the state of the future to come then why not hop on board now? Why not do what so few others are doing and be, dare I say it, progressive? He’s absolutely right that diversity “didn’t come naturally”, and it never does. It takes people who are willing to make a change.

It’s just so hard for me to understand why he wants to leave that up to almost anyone else. Avi Arad a man with great power, but for some reason he doesn’t believe that equates great responsibility.

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7 responses to “Avi Arad: Diverse Futures, Passed [Opportunities]

  1. While I think that Arad and Co. should be doing more to put more diversity on the screen, I can understand their choice to not put Morales on the screen any time soon. The new Spider-Man franchise is already getting flack because it’s viewed as an unnecessary reboot, and throwing another Spidey into the fray–no matter how different the character is–is gonna exacerbate that problem. If I were then, I would keep up with Pete until Garfield’s contract is up, and then cast a Miles Morales to take up the webs.

    • I didn’t mention up above, but Garfield is only contracted out ’till Amazing Spider-Man 3. It’s coming up far sooner than later.

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