Coffee Talk #657: Diversification in the Marvel Universe and You

Marvel Comics Diversity

You’ve been thrilled by the adventures of African-American Captain America. You’ve journeyed into mystery with the mysterious female Thor. In December, you’ll be getting a Korean-American Hulk when Totally Awesome Hulk hits shelves. Ethnic and sexual diversification in Marvel Comics is an ongoing process — one that Marvel seems to be keen on pursuing. It also seems to be a process that some readers are against. How do you feel about diversification in the Marvel Universe? Is it necessary? Is it being forced? Let’s examine the issue and discuss (please).

There are many longtime Marvel Comics readers that don’t like their icons being altered. They want Steve Rogers as Captain America, not Sam Wilson. They want the son of Odin to be Thor, not a women with a secret identity (for seven issues, anyway). Lastly, they want Bruce Banner as the Hulk, not Amadeus Cho. These readers are traditionalists that prefer stories about characters they’ve known and loved for decades. Changing the identity, ethnicity, or sex of an iconic character is jarring to these readers. Staying true to years of material is more important than diversification to these guys and gals, which is completely understandable since this is entertainment.

There’s a subsection of the readers mentioned in the last paragraph that claim they want to see a more diverse Marvel Universe, but would prefer diversification through new characters. They want their icons to stay as they are, but wouldn’t mind if they were joined by all-new, all-different characters that represent various ethnicities, genders, religions, sexual orientations, etc.

For reasons that escape me, there are some readers that are fine with the majority of superheroes in the Marvel Universe being white males. For my part, I feel that diversity is overdue, but shouldn’t be forced. That said, diversity in the Marvel Universe has been silly for decades. Most of the action takes place in Manhattan, arguably the most diverse city in the world. Similar to how Friends — a show about six white people that only have white friends — was a ridiculous representation of New York life, Marvel has done a poor job depicting the diversity of New York through its heroes.

At the end of the day, I don’t care that Sam Wilson is Captain America. I care that his costume sucks and his stories have been boring. I don’t care that the new Thor is a woman. I care that she’s being written by Jason Aaron, one of my favorite comics writers of the last ten years. I’m not particularly enthused that the Hulk will be Korean-American. I’m terribly excited that Greg Pak will be writing the stories and that they’ll feature Amadeus Cho, a character that I love.

Would I like to see more diversity in the Marvel Universe? Of course I would, but I understand that it’s a process and things are moving in the right direction. For the most part, I enjoy comics that entertain me with writing. It doesn’t matter if they’re about Filipino-American heroines with cosmic powers or homosexual ice mutants that have arrived from the past. If the writing is great, make mine Marvel.

Naturally, I want to hear your thoughts on the matter. How do you feel about diversification in the Marvel Universe? Leave a comment and let me know (please!).