How Diverse is the Marvel Cinematic Universe? The Movies: Phase One

The Doctor Strange controversy — combined with the push to cast an Asian American actor as the title character Danny Rand aka Iron Fist —  has been buzzing for the last couple months. With the release of the first official trailer for Doctor Strange, Marvel’s next would-be blockbuster movie after Captain America: Civil War, the controversy has reached an all time high. So much so that a Marvel spokesperson gave this statement to Mashable regarding the casting of Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One in Doctor Strange:

Marvel has a very strong record of diversity in its casting of films and regularly departs from stereotypes and source material to bring its MCU to life. The Ancient One is a title that is not exclusively held by any one character, but rather a moniker passed down through time, and in this particular film the embodiment is Celtic. We are very proud to have the enormously talented Tilda Swinton portray this unique and complex character alongside our richly diverse cast.

Is this statement true though? Has Marvel Studios really pushed diversity in their movies? Have they increased the visibility of marginalized peoples in their film franchise or television properties? Has Marvel Studios subverted stereotypes? Enough to supposedly excuse recent controversies surrounding Doctor Strange and Iron Fist?

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Birdman: What We Talk About When We Talk About Superheroes

The superhero genre — as we know it — was first birthed over seven decades ago in the pulpy pages of the 10-cent comic books. Mint copies of which that are now worth thousands, if not millions, of dollars. Not only are the books themselves more valuable, many of those original heroes are even more popular today than they were at their inception. Even the heroes who weren’t popular then have been resurrected to much critical acclaim today. We call this period of superhero storytelling “the Golden Age” of comics, but we are currently living in a new golden age of superhero storytelling, except the heroes have migrated from the four-color page to the fourteen-screen multiplex.

The fact that we can count on a new comic book superhero movie (or three) every year until infinity and beyond is both a blessing and a curse for the nerd contingent. For every billion-dollar grossing blockbuster that stars men in tights saving the universe — and it is almost always men — there are critics from both within and without nerdom that bemoan the genre’s grasp on pop culture and predict its demise every year. “Superhero fatigue,” it’s called. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is the latest film from writer/director Alejandro González Iñárritu — best known for heavier, more melodramatic fare like Babel and 21 Grams — and it takes on the superhero genre, and the fatigue that may or may not come along with it, like no other film before it.

Spoilers ahead.

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The Carcosa Interview: Greg Pak

by William Evans | Originally posted at Black Nerd Problems

At Black Nerd Problems, two types of people that will always appeal to us are: 1) those that “get it” when it comes to diversity and representation in our geekdom and 2) really smart individuals. Greg Pak is both of those. As the comic book writer responsible for Batman/Superman, Action Comics’ recent resurgence, the most heralded Incredible Hulk books in the last ten years and the first ongoing series for Storm, Pak has made a huge impact in the comic book world. But as we found out, there’s still a lot more beyond comics that make him such an interesting talent.

This interview could’ve been three times as long, but not wanting to keep the man from all this good work he’s involved in, we got to talk about the politician that never was, beating down superheroes, and I even snuck in a little bit of NBA talk.

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Enter the Soya: A Nerd Origin

Two mysterious lands far away from one another — yet linked by seas of soybeans — birthed a child born of melody, harmony, rhythm, and the smell of soy sauce. The child was destined to become a musician… and a tofu-loving pescetarian. But first, between musical gifts, came dreams of Jedi knighthood, ninjas, and flying with a cape.

My dad says he took me to Return of the Jedi when I was 3. I don’t remember it, but judging from the reaction my mom gives when this is mentioned, it happened. What I do remember very well from childhood is becoming obsessed with Superman in the early 80s. It seemed about right being surrounded by farms in a Nebraska town 60 miles from Smallville (okay, the Kansas border). Superman links farmland Nebraska with farmland Goiás (Brazil). My dad and my tio Laurinho took me to Superman III a year later. Remember, it took a bit more time for movies to travel back then. After that, it was capes and the same tio, or anyone else I could get, making me fly in both Brazil and the U.S. while trying not to break stuff.

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Model Minority Rage: Why the Hulk Should Be an Asian Guy

Originally posted at The Daily Beast

Whenever I take a clickbait quiz to determine which of The Avengers I would be, I always game the questions to aim for the Hulk. No question, the Hulk is my Avenger, hands down, and I will always be upset that of the Avengers his stand-alone movies have fared the worst, box-office and critical-opinion-wise.

The main reason, of course, is that they didn’t get the right actor to play Bruce Banner until The Avengers hit theaters.

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