Yeah, I saw Age of Ultron exactly a week ago. Yes, keeping myself from watching as much promotional material as possible prior to seeing it actually improved my viewing experience immensely. Oh, and that being said I did enjoy it, thank you for asking. Not a perfect film by any means, but still pretty good.
To back up the title of this post allow me to reveal that I spend at least three digits of dollars worth of comic books every month, and at least 90% of that money goes to Marvel Comics. As a company they own most of my favourite characters and are telling the stories I’m most interested in. I think “fanboy” goes a little too far, but you cut those last three letters off and I’ll wave that flag with a moderate amount of enthusiasm.
Having gotten that out of the way it should go without saying that even when they’re pretty bad [I’m looking at you, Iron Man 2] I still enjoy them. I know for a fact what movies I’m watching out to 2019, which is something I’ve never been able to say before. With the way the hype train has been rolling on towards the third installment in the Avengers film franchise there are still times when I need to pump the brakes [trains have brakes, right?] and remember something-
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is incredibly White [I know there’s something you want to bring up, fellow Age of Ultron viewers, and I’ll get to that closer to the end]-
In addition to the aforementioned trinity of Christopher there are of course Robert [Tony Stark/Iron Man], Mark [Bruce Banner/The Hulk], and in just two short months Paul [Scott Lang/Ant-Man]. Any observations you make about the Whiteness of said names are yours alone. That’s not to discount the non-White characters that appear in the 11 MCU movies to date, but they’ve never taken centre stage in any of them. Even considering Anthony Mackie’s Falcon in Captain America: The Winter Soldier I’m fairly certain Scarlett Johansson beats him in overall screentime-
-but I don’t want to turn this into a whole “racial representation vs. female representation” sort of thing, especially since the latter is doing just as if not even more poorly, but I’m just laying out the facts.
Let me lay down one more fact so we can move on to DC already. With the first ever movie to take characters from their respective franchises and mash them together to form one megafranchise we had a primary cast of six-
-five people who are White all of the time, and one who is White some of the time in order to keep the VFX costs down. Just a few days ago director David Ayer shared a promo image for his upcoming Suicide Squad, a movie based on DC Comics’ team of the same name.
Five of the characters featured in this image are non-White. From left to right we have Adam Beach as Slipknot [note the rope at his waist], Karen Fukuhara as Katana, Will Smith as Deadshot, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc, and Jay Hernandez as El Diablo. That doesn’t even take into account Tony Award-winning actor Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, a character known in the DC Universe as being a way-tougher-than-nails government agent.
Now look, I know that the racial makeup of the cast doesn’t have any effect on the actual quality of the film. I haven’t seen any of David Ayer’s films and have no idea how talented of a director, writer, or producer he is [as he is all three for this movie]. What I do know is that there’s something incredibly refreshing, and feel free to disagree with me if you don’t feel the same way, about seeing evidence that an upcoming comic book movie will have some diversity in there. From First Nations to Japanese to Mexican to Black it’s no small range, either.
Let’s say that all of the aforementioned characters hit the bucket, though. I mean, the entire premise of the Suicide Squad is that these villains [did you really think that “Killer Croc” was a hero?] could 100% die during these missions, and you can guarantee that they’ll be offing at least three just to keep things real. What else does the DCCU have up its sleeve?
Oh, right, their Aquaman AKA The King of Atlantis AKA 1/7 of the Justice League will be played by Jason Momoa. It’s a decision that makes sense the more you think about it, especially when taking into account the actor’s own words:
“Aquaman is especially cool because being a Kanaka Maoli—being Hawaiian—our Gods are Kanaloa and Maui, and the Earth is 71 percent water, so I get to represent that. And I’m someone who gets to represent all the islanders, not some blond-haired superhero. It’s cool that there’s a brown-skinned superhero.”
Assuming that the upcoming Justice League Part One, hitting theatres in 2017, features the lineup in the publisher’s recent comic book reboot the other six actors/characters will be:
- Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman
- Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman
- Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
- Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash
- Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg
- ? as ?/Green Lantern
That’s two non-White characters to start with, with the most exciting possibility being that we’ll have John Stewart as Green Lantern instead of Hal Jordan. For all of you non-comic-book-aficionados: Hal Jordan = White GL, John Stewart = Black GL. He’s also, the Ryan Reynolds movie not withstanding, the ringbearer that most of the world is more familiar with thanks to the Justice League cartoon that ran through the early aughts.
Its effect on popular culture was so strong that when the trailer for the 2011 movie came out people flocked to Twitter saying things like–
madylove09 So. If I’m not mistaken, isn’t The Green Lantern black?
sc4bway: Just saw The Green Lantern movie preview and the green lantern is white! Thats the only black superhero!
That’s right, “the only black superhero”. Now I know, and you probably do as well, that this isn’t true, but that’s how strong an effect the TV show had on people. It honestly makes you wonder why they didn’t have John Stewart be the primary Green Lantern in the aforementioned comic book reboot. The tweets also go a long way to show that people want to see themselves in the media, and one of the most popular right now is film, and one of the most popular film genres right now is the comic book movie.
The fact that DC and Warner Bros. have their premier superhero team made up of 2/7, and possibly 3/7, racial minorities is a huge deal. If this group is in fact supposed to defend the entire planet then it only makes sense that they should reflect it a little. According to Tony Stark the Avengers are an “‘Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ type thing,” so what does it mean that the mightiest the Earth has to offer are 100% White?
My favourite Avengers at the moment are Shang-Chi and Eden Fesi AKA Manifold, not just because they’re racial minorities [within North America, though it would still apply to the latter’s country of origin] but because they’re great characters-
Up above we have the Master of Kung-Fu, a Chinese native and person who generally doesn’t think weapons are all that necessary. Down
under below we have Manifold, an Australian Aboriginal with teleportation powers. He also has dreams of becoming a rock star.
If they were to join the MCU, possibly with Godfrey Gao as Shang-Chi and Aaron Pedersen as Eden [though he might be a little old] I think I could die happy. How I feel when I pass away aside, it would also show that the Avengers really are Earth’s Mightiest, that they’re the best we have to offer as an entire planet. At this point this is something that DC and Warner Bros. seems to be paying particular attention to, and I deeply hope that Marvel catches up.
Oh, and I promised to get to something here at the end so-
AGE OF ULTRON SPOILERS HERE STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT
-I should probably get to that. The last scene of the movie before the credits does in fact feature the roster for the “New Avengers” which includes the following roster:
And it may actually have been one of my top three scenes, hands-down, in the entire movie. That’s two Black men, a White woman, and an android who are joining OG Avengers Captain America and Black Widow and I could not be happier. I’m also aware that Black Panther starring Chadwick Boseman does drop in 2018, which is another huge deal in and of itself and which I won’t ignore. That being said I think my point above still stands. DC’s far ahead and Marvel needs to catch up.