Meet The (politically correct) Avengers
Iron Man is a woman, Spider-Man is African American (with a bit of Mexican mixed in), Thor is a chick, Ms. Marvel is a Pakistani Muslim, and the Hulk is American-Korean…is this an example of political correctness gone mad? Or is it all part of Marvel’s grand plan for their next big feature film, The Avengers Assemble (in no particular order and with no specific preference to any specific race or gender)!
In short: no. No, it’s not. And we think it’s actually a rather good thing. But there’s no denying that Marvel have certainly been shaking up the comic-book scene recently with their revamp of many well-known characters.
We’ve had Spider-man transitioned from white-bread Peter Parker to the youthful Black Hispanic Miles Morales in the Ultimate Marvel line of comic-books. We’ve seen Sam Wilson take on the task of becoming Captain America and having the weight of an entire country on his shoulders. We’ve watched Jane Foster come along and send ripples through the entirety of Asgard as she picked up the legendary Mjolnir and gained Thor's powers. We’ve even witnessed Amadeus Cho, a Korean-American, become very, very angry and very, very big as The Incredible Hulk.
With all of these changes having garnered a great deal of unwarranted criticism from a lot of nay-sayers. Which is more than a little ridiculous when you consider the fact that people like Chris Starkey are complaining that a 7'6" monstrous behemoth (who is GREEN) is now Korean.
That’s right, a massive green superhero is no longer a white American and Chris Starket is absolutely furious. Try reading that Tweet again and see if it makes sense. Because it doesn’t.
The most recent of these updates has been the transfer of the mantle of Iron Man, with the iconic suit having now been passed on to a black female character known as Riri Williams. So say goodbye to the billionaire-play boy-philanthropists antics of Tony Stark and say hello to Riri: Marvel’s first female Iron Man, a character who is a certified genius in her own right having been given a free scholarship to M.I.T. at the tender age of 15. Hand-picked by Stark himself, Riri will be going under the pseudonym of Ironheart because, well, she’s not a man.
We can safely say that our only legitimate complaint about this is her Care Bear-esque name and the missed opportunity for Marvel to have an actual 'Iron Maiden'. Though it’s likely that copyright issues quashed that gem.
A disheartening number of people (who have unsurprisingly hidden themselves behind anonymous usernames on the internet) have complained about this recent upheaval, decrying it as a pandering example of PC nonsense that aims at merely attempting to appeal to an under-represented minority group. And maybe…just maybe, they’re right. And maybe…just maybe, that’s actually a good thing.
We mean, how dare Marvel attempt to create an ethnically diverse character and simultaneously give a voice to those who are seldom provided role-models within the mass media? What gives them the right to create a new character that may get an entire sub-set of individuals inspired and motivated that they too can be just as super as the dominant white male? Oh, how about the fact that they own the entire company and do just as they damn well please? And seem to be actually using their powers for good? You know, like actual supeheroes? Is that a valid enough reason for you? Good. Because it should be.
The bulk of individuals whining about these changes seem to be wholeheartedly ignoring the fact that these are also new brand-new characters. They haven’t removed the history or tradition of the iconic characters we have all come to know and love. The female Wolverine is not literally a female version of Logan - although, admittedly she is a genetically engineered clone of him, but her name is X-23 and she prefers to go as Laura Kinney.
The female Thor is not Thor Odinson, she is Jane Foster. The female Iron Man is not Tony Stark, she is Riri Williams. There hasn’t been a mass cull and removal of everything important about the characters, and it’s also not the first time Marvel have mixed up their superhero ensemble. Hell, we’ve had Doc Ock have his mind placed into Spider Man’s body and we’re set to see Doctor Doom become the Infamous Iron Man. It only seems to be when gender and race come into play in the wacky world of comic books that people seem to have a larger issue.
That being said, Marvel’s changes haven’t all been met with a negative response, with their altering of the Captain Marvel character into a woman having been a genuine success. So much so that they’ve even cast Brie Larsson in the role of the titular hero for the upcoming film – underlining their faith in this new female iteration.
This positive trend for change does appear to be seeping into the films too, with Marvel’s cinematic universe following suit in terms of diversifying their ensemble with recent news suggesting that Disney Channel star Zendaya has been cast as Spider-man’s love interest Mary Jane in the upcoming Spider-man: Homecoming.
If these rumours are believed to be true it would make her the first person of colour to play the role of Mary Jane. Which we’re sure will make everyone very upset because Mary Jane is "supposed" to be a red-head. As if being a ginger is something inextricable from her very essence as a human being or that it’s simply impossible for Zendaya to dye her hair if being a red-head is really that necessary.
The issue obviously revolves around the fact that people aren't keen for "white" characters to be portrayed by black actors. So don't even try and pretend it's a hair issue. No one batted an eye-lid when blonde bombshell Kirsten Dunst dyed her hair all those years back in Sam Raimi’s Spider-man.
The same people upset about this casting are likely the same people vehemently arguing: “Why don’t we just made the Black Panther white, then?!” Well, firstly take off that Donald Trump hat and trim your stupid neck-beard. Secondly, race doesn’t really work that way. Unless the prince of an African nation somehow finds himself suffering from a rare case of albinism, we can’t see T’Challa becoming a white man anytime soon.
The fact of the matter is that for characters like The Black Panther, their ethnicity is integral to who they are as a character and the values that they fight for. With this being the case for almost all other black comic characters as well. The reason for that is pretty obvious and a pretty bleak indication of just how hesitant the entertainment industry was to portray black characters within their creations. If a character was black it was usually for a very specific reason that played an important part of their narrative like T'Challa and his African heritage. Or at least it was most of the time; Luke Cage was created in order to capitalise upon the Blaxploitation genre, which is hardly a more positive motivator for his ethnicity.
For others, that simply wasn’t the case. There isn’t an inherent reason why Spider-man can’t be black and the Incredible Hulk can’t be Korean because their characters and their traits don’t revolve around the fact that they are white. They were only made white in the first place because that was merely seen as the go-to default race at the time of writing. Thankfully, it seems that companies like Marvel are moving away from this dated mind-set and are paving the way forward in terms of diversity, opening up everyone’s eyes to a much wider world of possibilities where any superhero can be any gender or race.
Donald trump should go to Louisiana and his numbers will go up— chris starkey (@chrisstarkey67) August 18, 2016
Everyone except Chris Starkey, that is. F*ck you and your Twitter egg, Chris Starkey.