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  1. #1
    Astonishing Member AJBopp's Avatar
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    Default Superhero narratives striving for diversity are drowned out by the status quo

    Interesting opinion piece about diversity in superhero movies and TV.

    I think in a year or two this piece will seem badly out of date. It would have been more timely and relevant a few years ago, but it still offers up some interesting thoughts.

    For instance, I'm not much of a fan of Miles Morales Spider-man, but I recognize that a lot of folks like him and he seems like a charismatic enough character. Did Sony/Marvel do the right thing by putting Miles Morales on the screen but still calling him Peter Parker? I question that. I'm not sure that it's valid that box office returns would be significantly hurt if people find out a rebooted hero doesn't have the same name. Would it hurt if he doesn't have the same ethnicity? I don't know, but I think it's worth finding out. But then, I'm not the one who has to fork over $150 million to have the movie made.

    I do think there will be a lot of interest in Black Panther. Captain Marvel - I'm not sold on yet as a breakaway female hero lead a la Wonder Woman. What other opportunities are out there for successful, diversity-based heroes in the lead role (i.e. not Falcon - cool character and good actor, but if he didn't show up in Infinity War or anywhere else ever again it would exactly cause the franchise to plummet).
    Last edited by AJBopp; 01-02-2018 at 06:45 AM.
    Why yes, I AM a Mark Goodson/Bill Toddman production.

  2. #2
    Mighty Member WontonGirl's Avatar
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    When I clicked on the link, it said "can't reach that page".

    Is there another link for it? I would love to read the article!

  3. #3
    Astonishing Member AJBopp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WontonGirl View Post
    When I clicked on the link, it said "can't reach that page".

    Is there another link for it? I would love to read the article!
    Fixed the link. Bad copy/paste on my part
    Why yes, I AM a Mark Goodson/Bill Toddman production.

  4. #4
    Mighty Member Qwerty's Avatar
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    That wasn't miles
    Stick "we work together and we get out of here alive"

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  5. #5
    New old guy Surf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AJBopp View Post
    Interesting opinion piece about diversity in superhero movies and TV.

    I think in a year or two this piece will seem badly out of date.

    What other opportunities are out there for successful, diversity-based heroes in the lead role
    These two sentiments don't really jive. For those of us in the know this article is really a big 'duh'. There is Luke Cage and sure you can spin out a Black Panther franchise and honestly it would be just like what Captain America has done. Maybe Black Lightning has his own CW show but after that, the pickings of existing IP dry up fast for black characters. Take away the spinoff characters (War Machine, Falcon, John Stewart, Goliath, Storm) and now you have more fingers on one hand than would really be options left from either Marvel or DC, they are hand in hand in that thinking and practice. Image and the Independents fare much, much worse. Now that the comics industry is a gnat on the back of an elephant named Disney/WB and creative IP is not creator lucrative, it's not going to change. Back in 1993 this oversight was the entire basis for starting Milestone comics so... This is to say nothing of the female led options for possibilities in movies and TV, which really to say it's only marginally better.

    In a year or two this piece will still resonate. In 10 years this piece may still be true. There is no creation of characters retroactively. Really though, we've had two- TWO live action versions and 1 animated version of The Tick. The gotdamned Tick, I like the Tick but that just shows how far reaching it goes that the overall look of superhero's, 'look', is overwhelmingly similar. I have no doubt that there will be a Cerebus movie before we get another large franchise that looks like Black Panther in movies.
    Beefing up the old home security, huh?
    You bet yer ass.

  6. #6
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    I've begun to notice that in all stories--especially those for movies and television--there is not much representation of true lower class people. Even when there is a story set in a lower class environment, the main character is special somehow. And the stories about lower class people tend to focus on crime. So often a main character will be rich and not actually poor--but through illegal means. So this doesn't give an accurate portrait of lower class life. I'm a lower class person and most stories don't represent the world I've known. And it's not just super-hero stories, it's everything.

    However, most comic book super-heroes were created by lower class people. Or lower class people working with a wealthier person (like an editor or publisher). And comics were always created by people who tended not to belong to the dominant culture. Many were immigrants or children of immigrants. There were a lot of Jewish men (and some women) in the early days creating these characters. And in those days (and still to this day by some people), Jews were not considered part of the dominant culture or even the same race.

    But the super-heroes created by all these diverse people were not normal. They all had power--which many of their creators didn't--so sure some characters were rich or royal or alien. But that is a kind of diversity, too. The super-hero represented empowerment for people who were disenfranchised. And sometimes the super-hero could assimilate into the dominant culture and even occupy a high status position. But that was a myth that many minorities embraced, because it answered a desire that they had.
    sorry🍁

  7. #7
    Boisterously Confused
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kelly View Post
    I've begun to notice that in all stories--especially those for movies and television--there is not much representation of true lower class people. Even when there is a story set in a lower class environment, the main character is special somehow. And the stories about lower class people tend to focus on crime. So often a main character will be rich and not actually poor--but through illegal means. So this doesn't give an accurate portrait of lower class life. I'm a lower class person and most stories don't represent the world I've known. And it's not just super-hero stories, it's everything.

    However, most comic book super-heroes were created by lower class people. Or lower class people working with a wealthier person (like an editor or publisher). And comics were always created by people who tended not to belong to the dominant culture. Many were immigrants or children of immigrants. There were a lot of Jewish men (and some women) in the early days creating these characters. And in those days (and still to this day by some people), Jews were not considered part of the dominant culture or even the same race.

    But the super-heroes created by all these diverse people were not normal. They all had power--which many of their creators didn't--so sure some characters were rich or royal or alien. But that is a kind of diversity, too. The super-hero represented empowerment for people who were disenfranchised. And sometimes the super-hero could assimilate into the dominant culture and even occupy a high status position. But that was a myth that many minorities embraced, because it answered a desire that they had.
    There were exceptions, like the original Ragman and original White Tiger, and one could argue that in his struggling-college-student days that Spider-Man was one. But you are right: They are rare, and generally haven't taken off.

  8. #8
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    The thing is every super-hero story is about winning the lottery. So characters like Peter Parker start out as lower class, but they win the lottery of super-powers and then they indulge their fantasies. Which is what any lower class person would do.

    The Spirit is one character I thought of who comes close to representing the lower class--but he's more of an underclass character. He comes from humble beginnings--and he's essentially Jewish, given he represents Will Eisner. He is a criminologist, so he did have enough money to get a higher education (but maybe on a scholarship program). And he ends up squatting in a graveyard with his African-American friend. The early stories represent him as an outlaw and he does date up in the world, with some swank women. But his attitude shows that he doesn't care about upper class status.

  9. #9
    Death becomes you Osiris-Rex's Avatar
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    So the article completely ignores the Supergirl TV show. A show that has two women heroes in lead roles, Kara and Alex Danvers, and two black men as heroes, Martian Manhunter and Guardian.
    And there have been numerous other women and black characters as heroes and villains. Heroes like Miss Martian, villains like Aunt Astra, Queen Rhea, Reign, Indigo, Bloodsport, Psi, Roulette.
    And all the character are working class people, one a reporter, two government agents, and one a photographer. None are rich now, have been rich in the past, or probably be rich in the future.
    Even some of the rich people are women. Cat Grant, Lena Luthor, Lillian Luthor.

  10. #10
    Genesis of A Nemesis Things Fall Apart's Avatar
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    To Jim's point: Kasper Cole had to run an extension cord into his hallway of his apartment because his power was shut off. He had a pregnant girlfriend he wasn't really in love with, a mother who was unable to work, and his dad was a disgraced ex-cop sitting in prison. He was like what Peter Parker's life should really mirror. Initially his use of the White Tiger suit was just a way to set up busts for himself in his civilian/cop identity, in the hopes it would net him a promotion.

    It was a shortcut for when standard police work was either too time consuming, or difficult due to red tape.
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  11. #11
    Formerly Assassin Spider Huntsman Spider's Avatar
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    I would say there is an unspoken issue in this article's central thesis, and that is the backlash from some segments of the fandom every time superhero narratives push for greater social, gender, and racial diversity. On the surface, it's an objection to seeing their favorite/beloved characters being replaced or supplanted by newcomers who haven't yet "earned" the same level of respect or honor as the originals. Scratch beneath that surface, and it's more of a proxy for contemporary fears of cultural displacement in the real world, as women and nonwhite minorities and LGBT+ people make significant strides pushing back against longstanding norms that have kept them marginalized in mainstream society and culture, even if not necessarily recognized or admitted as such.

    However, the backlash is very real and very vociferous, and what often happens in response to that backlash is that there is a retrenchment, an attempt to go "back to basics," meaning restoring the original heroes to their perceived proper place of prominence while bumping down their would-be successors or replacements to supporting roles at best, if not removing them completely from the narrative so that they won't pose any further challenge to the original heroes' position. Frankly, it is not merely the reluctance of the industry itself to change in any way that would significantly empower (more) women, nonwhite minorities, and LGBT+ people, but the even greater reluctance, if not outright refusal, of many within the fandom to let such change happen, as that would mean, on a more subconscious level, acquiescing to what they perceive in the real world as their cultural displacement and social disempowerment. That is the inescapable subtext at work and in play whenever the subject of diversity and representation in the superhero genre comes up, the fear of disinheritance and disenfranchisement sparked by very real sociocultural change and upheaval and what it could mean for some people.
    The spider is always on the hunt.

  12. #12
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    My sense is that movies and TV shows in general want to promote an upward mobility lifestyle. And super-heroes are no different. I would guess that the larger percentage of the audience are lower income earners--so you would think media would reflect their lives back to them. But what strikes me is that most people I see on screen have the latest technology, the best clothes, the most exqusitely designed homes. And why is this, I ask myself. Most of us can't afford this crap--yet we have characters who have means to get the best that money can buy.

    I can think of three explanations for why this happens on the screen: 1) the people who produce the stories are so wealthy that this is reality to them; 2) the producers want to promote this kind of lifestyle and they want to make lower income earners feel bad for not having the best; 3) even though lower income earners pay to see these stories, the stories aren't made for them but for the high income earners who can actually afford the crap.

    Disney is a big corporations, the producers are all rich and have nothing in common with the rest of us. So I don't believe Disney has a diverstiy agenda to support the lower income people who, in the past, Disney has exploited. It's purely a style thing. It looks good to appear to accept those other people in the world--like the characters in GET OUT do--but it's entirely superficial and not a true conviction. Upwardly mobile people want to have stuff, but they don't want to feel bad about having it. So making a show of charity to others is a way to avoid a deeper questioning of ones own actions.

    If it produces a backlash--that doesn't really matter either. The big media corporations are not loyal to any political or cultural trend. They just want to make money and promote products and they'll switch to whatever agenda is in vogue at the time.
    sorry🍁

  13. #13
    King of Wakanda Midvillian1322's Avatar
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    The problem is these characters atleast the really popular ones were created when almost all Heroes were white guys. People who arr against racebending white heroes would say well make Original characters who are ethnic or homosexual. The problem is people want to see the names they know, especialy us nerds. Like isnt the current Green Lantern a black dude ? baz something iono wtf his name is and no ones crying for him to be in a GL movie they want Hal/John/Rayner/or Guy. Ones that have been around awhile. The new Ms Marvel seems pretty popular but shes an exception. Most the popular heroes have been here since before i was born.

    I think the General audience isnt that racist. Like i think as many ppl who wont see Balck Panther because its a "Black" movie, there will be atleast as many ppl who see it just for that reason. The thing is we want characters with some History Nd im guessing Studios think those are the safer bets. Thats why we end up with ppl suggesting Reed be Idris Elba. They want diversity but they want the iconic names too. And trust me i understand ppl who dont like Racebending of any kind. Its a tricky thing. The character with history are mostly white guys. Then to make it tricker ppl can say why are people trying make character Black or asian but rarley do ppl suggest racebending Reed to be of Hispanic or middle eastern decent. So iono i find the whole issue gives me a headache. I have no idea how you fix it.

  14. #14
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    I'd say that the Legion of Super-Heroes was meant to be as diverse as possible, right from the beginning. They always had a large number of female members and the Legionnaires had rich multi-cultural backgrounds. The creative talents were prevented from introducing as much diversity as they wanted by editors. But on a metaphorical level the LSH was supposed to reflect real world concerns. So it would not be a stretch to colour blind cast the Legion.

  15. #15
    Bishop was right. Sighphi's Avatar
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    It took 17 years of our current superhero explosion before we got that Wonder Woman film. And we still, inexplicably, don't have a Black Widow movie,
    And all the other female hero films dont count because if they did then your argument isnt valid.

    Films like “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” and “Justice League” certainly included non-white guys as supporting actors, but white guys were in their usual position at center stage.
    And?

    Worse, when non-white people are represented, they frequently still show up as wearisome stereotypes. Mantis (Pom Klementieff) in Guardians is portrayed as a submissive Asian woman, who the villain literally keeps as a pet; her main power is lulling the bad guy to sleep.
    pretty sure she was playing an alien.

    Superhero narratives struggle with diversity, even when they strive for it, for a few reasons. The first is that the entire superhero genre was built on characters and stories that are 40, 50 and, in some cases, almost 80 years old. Most of the major properties at that time were created by white men for an audience of mostly white men and boys, at a time during which white men were (even more than now) seen as the heroic default.
    heroic tales mostly include men because of the history of man. Not because of who created comics 40 years ago.

    Fans begged Marvel to cast an Asian-American actor as Iron Fist, which would have addressed the stereotypical (and racist) white-guy-goes-East-and-gets-super-powers narrative in the character's origin.
    isnt it also racist for the asian to be the kung fu master?

    Another barrier to superhero diversity is the fact that the genre is built around stories of defending the status quo. Superheroes stop bank robbers and thwart the violent overthrow of the government, expectations that lead to narratives embracing the perspective of the powerful: rich people, white people and men.
    LOLOL! WHAT?

    So stopping crime and government takeover is really about helping out the rich, the white, and the male.

    Jebus H, man, is this article a new year's joke?

    It's possible that the superhero genre will improve. “Black Panther” looks very promising,
    HAHAHHA! isnt the story here about a tremendously rich royalty stopping people from stealing from him?

    How is tremendously rich people suddenly ok? Just because he African?

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