Diversity in Comics

And comics media (shows/movies/etc). Today’s short post is brought to you by the new Captain Marvel trailer. Kind of. It’s been something I’ve been thinking of doing for a while, but some of the reaction to the trailer is what made me decide to do it.

So last week Marvel dropped the first trailer for next years Captain Marvel, and for the most part, the reaction was positive. Sadly though, it was only for the most part. Thankfully, it was less than others, but there was still some negative reaction. Now I’d be all for the negative reaction if it was ‘I just think the movie looks bad’ (not that I agree), but the majority of the negative comments I’ve seen are “this is just more feminist drivel” or “looks like social justice garbage” – and some even being “they genderswapped!” (while I disagree with all of those statements, that last one is just straight up incorrect; they just went with the 5th (or 6th or 7th? Marvel has had MANY Captain Marvels) and debatably most popular (from Marvel anyway, as Steve Lambert pointed out – the name Captain Marvel is tied to a very (1) complicated (2) history (3)) under the mantle – Carol Danvers). This bugged me – bugged me enough to finally make this post.

Now there are a couple things I want to say straight up. The first is that as a straight white guy, I’ve never had any difficulty finding someone I could identify with in comics or media (I’d have to look harder for characters that modelled living and practising the Christian faith, but that initial search was insanely easy). I don’t say that to be political in any way, I say that cause it’s a fact. The second is that I think diversity in comics and comic media is only a good thing.

A lot of early (and current) comic creators were white, a lot of characters were as well – that in and of itself isn’t bad (though the depiction of women and minority characters could be). As a result of a lot of white characters, I wouldn’t have any problem finding a character I could identify with on a surface level. But that’s not the case for everyone. A lot of people could connect with, say, Superman or Wonderwoman – but it’d be with the spirit of the character, and not how they looked. It’s different to see someone who’s a beloved and renowned hero AND who looks like you. As a white dude, I have never had that problem.

Having a diverse cast of characters is only a good thing, especially as certain stories are more relatable to certain people groups and demographics. Someone seeing someone who looks like them AND has some of the same experiences is a powerful thing, and should not have a limit for people. If you end up not liking the character, that’s fine, don’t read them – but don’t push for them to be taken away either. Thankfully, this isn’t something a majority do – but a very vocal minority.

Now, in my opinion, there is a good way of doing adding even more diverse characters. Comic fans are fickle and take a while to adjust. We see this with stuff from well before the ‘diversity push’ – it took fans ages to warm up to Wally West as the new Flash (and that was a case of a beloved character inheriting the mantle), fans did not take to Ben Reilly as the ‘Sensational’ (and main) Spiderman at the tail end of the Clone Saga (which was SUCH a mess), the whole “Heroes Reborn” debacle (the 90s was a rough time for comics). In many aspects, what fans don’t want is a huge change. We want new stories, we want to see the characters grow, but we don’t want “this thing that has been here forever was never true” or “suddenly this person is now this other person”.    Instead of rewriting a characters history, or race/gender swapping/bending, I’d rather new character created – or (in a case like Squirrel Girl, where you’re almost starting from scratch anyway) a character that’s been used very little. Squirrel Girl was a one-off joke character, who has been used to great effect in her own comic where she talks things out more often than not. Miles Morales became Spider-man of the Ultimate Universe (unfortunately, there was backlash and racism) and he was a very different character from (Ultimate) Peter Parker, he came from a different family, a different area of the city, had a different supporting cast – was a different Spider-man. This approach enabled people to relate to him more.

The other thing is if it makes sense, while comic fans have issue with change, they’ll get on board easier (more so now than those earlier examples). Sam Wilson had a long history with Cap, so he made sense to inherit the mantle (and Bucky wasn’t picking it back up), and people could get behind that quicker. A common criticism for RiRi Williams is that she was very new to the mythos and then was suddenly IronHeart (/Ironman in the title) – people were upset. People like RiRi Williams now, but the rushed intro was a disservice and very divisive.

If the above seems like a hard to follow mess, I’ma hand it over to the wonderful Comics Explained and Comicstorian to sum it up more clearly:

So, in short – diversity in comics and comic media is only a good thing (especially when done well), and there’s a great number of new characters. I love Silk, Spider-Gwen, and Squirrel Girl. I’ve heard really good things and want to check out the Sam Wilson as Cap run, the Jane-Foster Thor was apparently amazing, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about Kamala Khan and plan to check them out soon.

Anyways, hope this post made sense, pointed out some characters worth checking out, dispelled some of the ‘diversity in comics is bad’ hullabaloo, and, hope Captain Marvel is great – looking forward to seeing more from it.

Hope you all have a wonderful day, and God bless my friends!