Cool, 2017. Very cool.
Over the past few years, the elite club of iconic comic superheroes went from being exclusively white and male ― Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, all the mans ― to incorporating women and people of color into its super-roster.
For example, a Pakistani-American teenager named Kamala Khan became the new Ms. Marvel, and a black science prodigy named Riri Williams made her own Iron Man suit, taking up the Ironheart mantle. Bad Feminist author Roxanne Gay became the first black woman to write for Marvel; her series “World of Wakanda” revolves around queer heroines in an all-women fighting force, based in a fictional African country.
Unfortunately, these initial, long overdue attempts to broaden the definition of who a hero can be are now being blamed for the decline in comic-book sales in 2016. In an interview with “geek culture” website ICv2, Marvel’s vice president of sales David Gabriel said he was told by comic retailers that customers “didn’t want any more diversity.”
Many were quick to challenge Gabriel’s hypothesis that diversity was to blame for a lapse in sales, instead of the fact that most comic books tell the same damn stories over and over and over again.
One vocal commenter was the creator of the newest Ms. Marvel herself, G. Willow Wilson.
In a blog post responding to the controversial statements, Wilson discussed the various other factors that turn readers off from new comic protagonists that don’t relate to their race and gender ― like, for example, that they tend to kill off the reigning, beloved hero and assume his or her position, likely to anger devoted fans.
Most notably, Wilson took issue with the framing of non-white male characters as “diverse,” instead of just realistic. “Diversity as a form of performative guilt doesn’t work,” she wrote. “Let’s scrap the word diversity entirely and replace it with authenticity and realism. This is not a new world. This is *the world.*”
Others on Twitter chimed in with similar sentiments, expressing that Marvel’s blatant lag time in expanding its catalog of leading characters likely turned readers off as much if not more than their eventual attempts at inclusion.
However, it’s not all that hard to imagine readers “turning their noses up,” as Gabriel put it, at the concept of being saved by a teenage girl. Just think of the unfathomable wrath generated by the all-female reboot of “Ghostbusters” and the December 2015 installment of “Star Wars,” fronted by a woman and a black man. Sociologists and scholars have studied the propensity for misogyny in stereotypically “nerdy” communities. Very succinctly put, participants in geek culture, often excluded from traditional displays of masculinity, seek protected communities to experience male privileges of dominance, acceptance and superiority.
The good news, however, is that Gabriel is determined not to let the decline in sales deter Marvel’s path toward representation and widespread visibility. “Let me be clear,” he wrote in a clarifying statement following his initial remarks, “our new heroes are not going anywhere! We are proud and excited to keep introducing unique characters that reflect new voices and new experiences into the Marvel universe and pair them with our iconic heroes.”
Comic buffs and feminist nerds, if you’re reading, now is the time to support the comic heroes you’d like to see more of. In real life, it’s often women and people of color who put in work to make the world a brighter, safer place. Let’s have our comics tell truthful stories that reflect the world around us, whether or not they involve flying around cities in tight suits and capes.
- 'Game Of Thrones' Concert Might Have A Secret Bran Connection
- 'Game Of Thrones' Season 7 Teaser Might Reveal An Upsetting Secret
- You May Be Hearing That 'Game Of Thrones' Lyric All Wrong
- From 'Arrival' To 'Zootopia,' A Look At American Politics In 2016's Movies
- The Radical, Feminist Comic Book We Need To Survive A Trump Presidency
- How Jack Kirby and DC Comics Predicted Trump With a Bloviating Demagogue in 1971
- Weekend box office: Moviegoers show some 'Doctor Strange' love
- Doctor Strange's comic book origin | Jersey Retro
- "Doctor Strange" and "Hannibal" star Mads Mikkelsen calls the presidential election "scary"
- Dear Marvel: These six superheroes are ready to fly solo
- Benedict Cumberbatch teases that events in fourth series of Sherlock might lead to break
- Marvel pulls 'Iron Man' cover art amid backlash
You might also like
- The Androgynous 'Third Gender' Of 17th-Century Japan
- Trump's Pick To Lead The Army Believes Being Transgender Is A Disease
- Senate Confirms Neil Gorsuch To Supreme Court After Historic Blockade Of Obama's Nominee
- Jeff Sessions Prepares DOJ For Crackdown On Unauthorized Border-Crossers
- Family Immigrant Detention Centers Struggle To Get Child Care Licenses
- Trump Administration Won't Routinely Separate Families At The Border After All
- New Sheriff Closes Joe Arpaio’s Infamous ‘Tent City’ Jail
- Hispanic Caucus Fears DHS Head Will Turn A Blind Eye To Agents' Bad Conduct
- Immigration Agents Won't Stop Making Arrests In Courts, Trump Officials Tell Judge
- Texas Republicans Hope To Give Child Care Licenses To Family Detention Centers
- Trump Team Still Hasn't Defined Those 'Sanctuary Cities' That It Plans To Quash
- What We Get Wrong When We Talk About Food Stamps And Immigrants
- Powerful South Carolina political consultant implicated in indictments of a veteran state senator
- Will Donald Trump get a second Supreme Court nomination?
- "Hazing" rituals await Supreme Court's "junior justice" Neil Gorsuch
- The hunt is on for Planet Nine. Here's how to join it
- Trump approves controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline
- Trump praises 'Fox & Friends,' renews old feuds in early morning tweets
- Rex Tillerson finally answers question from NBC News' Andrea Mitchell
- First Read's Morning Clips: The Latest in the Russia Investigation
- Spicer: 'I've let the president down'
- Russian President Vladimir Putin met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday
- OMB Diriector Mick Mulvaney: Washington's 'a lot more broken' than Trump thought
- Trump attacks conservatives over failure of health care bill
- A very consequential week didn't go well for President Trump
- Health Care Showdown: Republicans look to go big or go home
- No deal on health care bill after conservatives meet with Trump
- CA gov on those supporting health bill: 'Their name is going to be mud'
- Give it to me straight, doc: Is Obamacare dying?
- First Read's Morning Clips: Waiting for CBO
- 14 People Share What's It's Really Like to Have An Ex Who Is Now Their In-Law
- The Internet Is Freaking Out About The Way This Chef Cuts Pizza
- Calendar: Highlights from around town
- Tribute at Alex Theatre to honor the Band
- The Radical Power Of Lana Del Rey's Smile
- Inside One Female Photographer's Mission To Normalize The Nude Male Body
- New 'Serial' Podcast, 'S-Town,' Just Debuted All Its Episodes At Once
- 'Books Not Bombs' Initiative Promotes Education For Syrian Scholars
- How One Grandma's Modest Closet Found Its Way Into The Met
- In 1981, Margaret Atwood Made A Stirring Case For Investing In Culture
- White Artist's Painting Of Emmett Till Sparks Protest, Controversy And A Viral Hoax
- Despite Death Threats, Nazi-Themed Trump Billboard Artist Plans More
- Relive Your College Years With This Thoughtful, Hilarious Novel
- Some Theories On Trump's Bizarre Misuse Of Quotation Marks
- Gorgeous Portraits Capture Sisterhood Among Muslim American Teenagers
- Hundreds Of Stuffed Animals At The Jewish Museum Pay Unlikely Tribute To Immigrants
- Here's How You Can Help Fight Street Harassment With Public Art
- Artist Paints Interracial Couples Just Being, Together
- Jane Austen Has Become An Alt-Right Icon, Somehow
- Photographer Chronicles The Glamorous Hairstyles Of West Africa's Beauty Salons
- 23 Recent Books By Women You Should Read ASAP
- Arts Advocates Denounce Proposed Elimination Of The NEA And NEH