Could Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Become TV’s Diversest Show?

Four of these people are gone-zo. Can you guess which?

Okay. Here be much spoilerage.

Now that season 3 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (and that’s the last time I type that out) is over, I gots some identity-politickin’, pot-stirrin’, white-people-genocidin’ things to say.

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Diversify Cast Regulars on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Warning:  spoilers for season two of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., including the season finale, are included.

In my earlier post about Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the agonizingly long list of characters of color who have been either killed off, turned evil or left physically mutilated illustrated the series’ awkward reliance on negative racially-coded tropes.  Now that the season is over, let’s finish that list, shall we?

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What’s the Deal with the POC Characters on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?

In a week where the Deadline Hollywood website shot itself in the foot for asking us to consider the poor white actors being denied work due to the current spate of “ethnic casting” for TV pilots and series, the ever-ongoing fight of POC actors to get more than table scraps is never far from mind. Despite the Bat Signal thrown up by Deadline to save whiteness in Hollywood, the fact remains that productions still routinely limit or shut out entirely actors of color from starring roles.

On Twitter this weekend the thread #whedonandrace critiqued Joss Whedon’s problematic depictions of black and other POC characters in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. This discussion has been ongoing among fans of color since Buffy and Whedon became a name; it just happened that this time it spawned a hashtag. Soon the thread became a general critique of his handling of race, encompassing Whedon’s other TV series as well as his films, including the series he co-created with Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon for Marvel Studios,  Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  While Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., at first glance, is diverse in its casting (at least of its secondary recurring cast members and guest stars; its regulars are largely white), the series reveals an unsettling pattern of how these characters of color are depicted.

Simply put, what’s the deal with POC (mainly black) characters being killed, maimed, or evil on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?

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The Marvel Studios Empire Strikes Back

About a week and a half ago, Marvel Studios (owned by Disney) and DC Entertainment (owned by Warner Brothers) got into a bit of a pissing contest. Marvel struck first by announcing Robert Downey Jr. would be bringing Iron Man to the Captain America sequel, setting up a “Civil War” story line in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and making it the highest profile superhero vs. superhero showdown of 2016 (sorry, Batman v Superman).

The next day, Warner Brothers unveiled its long-gestating slate of DC Comics-based films that was supposed to satiate fanboys’ appetites through 2020. While a lot of folks found some of the choices in Warner’s ambitious schedule confounding — including yours truly — the one area where DC had a leg up on Marvel was in the diversity of its lineup. In addition to the inclusion of solo movies for Wonder Woman (finally!) and Cyborg (huh?), you also had people of color top-lining two more films — Jason Momoa in Aquaman and Dwayne Johnson in Shazam. As groundbreaking as the Marvel Cinematic Universe is, it’s also overwhelmingly white and male. At least until today.

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