Comic Book Curious

Diversity: On the Screens – And Behind the Scenes

August 19, 2021

I am sure most people understand the importance of casting a culturally diverse group of people on screen. If the movie takes place in Egypt, it wouldn’t fit the theme if the entire cast was white Americans pretending to be Egyptian – and it would be an insult to actors and actresses of Egyptian descent. The same goes for creators. A culturally diverse group of writers, directors, and producers are going to create content that is far more authentic and engaging to the audience.

For example, when Disney made a live-action remake of Aladdin, the cast was representative. However, the movie “lacked a sense of cultural authenticity, which could be attributed to its lack of representation in key roles behind the camera” (Collider). This diversity extends to hiring more females as well as more BIPOC and not just for the films starring black actors.

Anthony Mackie, the actor behind Sam Wilson/Falcon, said “the crew in all of the MCU movies he's been involved in were overwhelmingly white” and called for change. Joe and Anthony Russo have agreed with Mackie saying that it is important to endorse and support “'diversity on both sides of the camera’” (Digital Spy). Mackie also criticized having a mostly Black crew for a predominantly Black movie but not for a film in which most of the cast is white. Mackie said:

“We’ve had one Black producer; his name was Nate Moore. He produced ‘Black Panther.’ But then when you do ‘Black Panther,’ you have a Black director, Black producer, a Black costume designer, a Black stunt choreographer. And I’m like, that’s more racist than anything else. Because if you only can hire the Black people for the Black movie, are you saying they’re not good enough when you have a mostly white cast?” (Variety)

The need for diversity is expressed through almost all aspects of Marvel. Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios President, “says the diversity it puts into its movies on screen and behind the scenes ought to be the norm in Hollywood…when there are people from various backgrounds and genders, stories are better” (CBR).

Other strides in diversity and inclusivity in the MCU will be showcased in their series on Disney+ as well as upcoming films. Black executive producer and showrunner Malcolm Spellman is in charge of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, and he is set to co-write a 4th installment in the Captain America franchise. And this isn’t the only Marvel series to feature more diverse showrunners. “WandaVision and She-Hulk both have female showrunners. Ms. Marvel has a team of Pakistani-origin creators and filmmakers bringing the show to life. And noted Egyptian creator Mohamed Diab is directing part of Moon Knight” (Collider).

Of course, there is even more from Marvel: “Taika Waititi took the reins for Thor: Ragnarok and is helming the fourth installment of the Thor franchise as well. Anna Boden became the first woman to co-direct a Marvel film when she helmed Captain Marvel. And waiting in the wings is Cate Shortland’s Black Widow, Chloé Zhao’s Eternals, and Nia DaCosta’s The Marvels, which will also be written by a woman, Megan McDonnell” (Collider).

Movie poster for Black Widow.

Credit: Marvel

I hope the rest of the industry is taking notes on inclusivity. Marvel is going in the right direction by expanding the diversity of who is working on the films. Given how prevalent systemic racism is, and how certain interests or hobbies try to justify gatekeeping with misogyny, I for one am happy to see the changes that Marvel is striving for and achieving. And like Feige, I too hope that one day this is the norm and not a headline.

For more articles on inclusivity check out Brian Sheridan's article here, Gabriel Valentin's article here, or Kristen Lormand-Yoerger's article here.

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