Is Marvel Doing Enough to Improve Its Diversity?

For a little over a decade, Marvel has been making regular headlines as the famous comic book-based film series takes on a modern reflection of superheros. Including a large number of A list actors, the films have served a strong role in representing pop culture. However, holding the position as one of the biggest box office hits in the world, many believe Marvel should be using their platform to acknowledge and represent the diverse world we are living in.

Avengers: Endgame is the second highest grossing film in the world, starring almost every superhero we have come to know and love over the last few years. However, with such a large number of superheros, you might expect some representation of the minorities the movie is targeting. While Black Panther was the first Avenger film to feature a person of color as the superhero lead, the film series has yet to properly acknowledge other minorities, including the LGBTQ community. 

Mainstream Representation of Minorities

In a generational transformation of today’s culture and freedoms, more movies in the film industry are taking deliberate measures to represent people of color, as well as members of the LGBTQ community. These queer and racial minorities are largely underrepresented throughout the film industry, and with such a large portion of their target audience among these groups, inclusivity has become a prime and necessary conversation in Hollywood.

The U.S. is a melting pot of races and ethnicities, and will soon become a country without a single racial majority. With so many minorities making up a huge portion of Marvel’s target audience, the cinematic leaders need to consider their approach towards representation if they want to maintain support from the 38% of non-white individuals in the U.S.

Representation offers a large number of benefits apart from helping with sales. Embracing diversity in every industry can help offer a more equal platform for minorities; and in something as important as healthcare, can help minimize disparities in the care different races receive. By providing minorities with the opportunity to see people who look like them on the big screen, film producers and directors can offer benefits that extend beyond simply being inclusive.

According to Maryville University, “When people recognize themselves in messages, they’re more likely to respond. Up to 83% of people pointed to better representing modern society as the reason marketing campaigns were impactful in a positive way.” Without making the deliberate decision to include people of all races, ethnicities, and sexualities, Marvel is not doing their part to represent the cultures of minorities in the mainstream areas of film.

Inclusivity in Marvel Films

Over the last several years, Marvel has seemingly made an effort to place more women and people of color in the forefront of the superhero films it displays. At the start of 2018, the movie giant released Black Panther — a movie about a superhero based out of Wakanda, a fictional country located in East Africa — that largely starred people of color. In 2019, Marvel featured a woman starring as a stand alone superhero in Captain Marvel. While they are making an effort in representing women and people of color, the films are still falling flat in their representation of the queer community.

Avengers: Endgame featured possibly the smallest nod possible towards the queer community, as it portrayed a white male speaking about his date with another man. Still, it was there; a minute long scene to acknowledge the nearly 10% of individuals in the U.S. who identify as gay or bisexual. While this is certainly better than nothing, the scene is simply an afterthought — a small detail in a character that doesn’t contribute more than that one scene to the film.

Although better representation may be in store for future Marvel films, the current consensus is that Marvel is not doing enough to improve its diversity. As a box-office hit chain, Marvel has a platform to represent more women and minorities than ever before seen on the big screen; however, the movies leave a lot to be desired for representation. The film producers seem to only create important roles for minorities when they are necessary or convenient; and while this may go unnoticed among the majority of people, minorities notice these details most.

However, as the political and social climates become more acknowledging and accepting of queer individuals, fans are hopeful in seeing a greater change in Marvel’s representation of queer folks. Much of the awe and wonder surrounding these superhero films comes from the uplifting message that each individual contributes something no one else can. The films contain a message that highlights individuality and the importance of being your best self. This is an idea that resonates with everyone, especially the underrepresented communities.

It serves as a reminder that people always bring something to the table, no matter how different they are. Going forward, Marvel has an opportunity to more openly represent the LGBTQ community as stylishly as they represent all of their superheroes and strong supporting characters. Avengers: Endgame was the end of an innocuous era for white, heterosexual individuals, but as the movie chain goes forward, they’ll need to adjust to society’s expectations for diversity in order to stay relevant in the film industry.

Category: Featured, Film