Last Wednesday, Marvel announced its new series of upcoming films. Marvel’s “Phase 3” includes 10 new films that will be released over the next five years. Among these films are “Black Panther,” which will be Marvel’s first action-superhero movie with an African-American lead role, and “Captain Marvel,” its first action-superhero film with a female lead.
This change in Hollywood representation is a great accomplishment.
Media can create and reinforce stereotypes of people and foreign cultures, and TV and film are primary ways of learning about other cultural groups — especially if one doesn’t have personal experiences with these groups.
Marvel’s new movies could help break down barriers in other areas where heroes are traditionally represented as belonging to one dominant identity.
“There’s this pervasive notion that the white male is … the basic model human and anything not white male is a variant edition,” said Kelly Sue DeConnick, writer of Captain Marvel, in an interview with Vox.
There is a lack of diversity within many types of media. Marvel wants to change this notion of white male dominance and make the world see that there is more to their superhero stories than a white man saving white damsels in distress.
DeConnick also stated to Vox that denying the representation of women in media limits women’s potential by placing them in “ever smaller boxes.” Increasing women’s representation as heroes in these films could increase the potential a girl or woman believes she has while also opening up the perspectives of new cultural groups.
Many critics of Marvel’s newly announced series believe that female superhero movies won’t get much praise because men don’t want to watch superhero women.
However, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” brought in $400 million, grossing more than “Thor: the Dark World” ($200 million). This clearly shows that men don’t completely object to powerful female protagonists.
In contrast to what some critics believe, holistic representations of superheroes in films could expand people’s perspectives both in our society and the world.
It could also broaden the personal perspectives of minorities and women.
Children seeing heroes that are like themselves could be empowering. After all, superhero films are meant to give us hope for ourselves and hope for humanity, right?
DeConnick said it best toward the end of her Vox interview: “If superheroes are meant to reflect the best of us, they should reflect the best of all of us.”