With the recent launch of the All-New All-Different line of Marvel Comics, I felt that this would be a sensible time to look at the current situation of cultural representation in the new comic lines that they have launched, and have announced to be launching, primarily through the focus of either title characters or team members in these titles.
Obviously, one of the most focused upon areas of representation, particularly in comparison to their current films, is that of female led titles. Since the only announced female led film currently in work by Marvel Studios is ‘Captain Marvel’, scheduled for release 2018, it is very encouraging to see that this new line of comics has brought forward a number of key characters to the foreground of the comic world. Classic characters such as Black Widow and Mockingbird are returning to champion their own titles, as well as more recent introductions such as Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel and Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur continuing to add to their line-up. Possibly more surprisingly Marvel has launched the first ever Scarlet Witch solo series to bolster their magic-led storylines, and are continuing with their female led The Mighty Thor title without any sight of the Odinson in the near future. More notably in terms of female led storylines, Marvel has also continued its A-Force title, essentially creating a female only Avengers-style team featuring the likes of Captain Marvel, She-Hulk and Medusa, among many more.
However, Marvel has not rested purely on upping its female key characters, instead introducing many ethnic and religious minorities to its key line up. With characters like Black Panther and Luke Cage featuring in their own series, not to mention Sam Wilson becoming the first African-American to hold the title Captain America, and the introduction of Kamala Khan as the first Muslim superhero in mainstream comics, this has done wonders for Marvel in terms of their representation. The introduction of Miles Morales as the new lead of the Spiderman series has added a Hispanic character to the mainstream universe, and Iron Fist and the new, totally awesome Hulk, Amadeus Cho, also represent the Asian-American communities. Plus, Marvel has reintroduced a character who has not held a solo series since 1973, the native American hero Red Wolf. Similarly Marvel has continued to push some of its more prominent Jewish heroes, with Kitty Pryde and Ben Grimm joining the ranks of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Magneto returning to the Uncanny X-men.
Yet the most notable storyline over the last year, and something that has been brought up in the All-New All-Different Marvel is that of Bobby Drake, aka Iceman, coming out and accepting his own homosexuality. Whilst this is not a first for Marvel, who have dealt with storylines regarding homosexuality before, I feel that with Iceman they took quite a risk. When the story first broke, many people felt that this was an attempt by Marvel purely to up representation with no regard for storytelling, however over the last few months this has seemed less and less the case. I am not going to focus too much on this here, however, as I intend to make this a separate post in one of the upcoming months, but I feel that this storyline, over time, has been incredibly well written.
To wrap up, Marvel’s cultural diversity and representation inside their comic-book world is an incredible task, and undoubtedly reaching this point has been a long planned out process. I, personally, am glad Marvel has attempted, and continues to attempt, to show a balanced and well-rounded fictional universe. While introducing new characters with various backgrounds, ethnicities and religions, I think they also do well to balance these in some of their team titles. For instance, the current Avengers line-up featuring Iron Man, Sam Wilson as Captain America, Jane Foster as Thor, Vision, Miles Morales, Kamala Khan and Nova, this relatively small team embodies the full range of diversity Marvel has attempted to bring to its universe overall. In my eyes, this is a job well done.