By: Daniel Brown
So what’s this bigoted, prejudiced, geeky bastard trying to say?
Increasing the levels of diversity within the MCU; that of both gender and ethnicity; is an excellent decision. Not only does it correlate with the demands of true equality, but it is a great move from a business standpoint. People like watching things that are innovative and different, so to stray away from the current pattern of the white male saving the day is to open up the possibilities for genuinely new creations.
It’s the critical lens that we look at these creations with that is the problem. What was largely the complaint with Avengers: Age of Ultron, the only media in my case studies that is currently available, was that it was just a toned down sequel to the game changing Avengers. But AoU evolved the existing MCU and it’s superheroes in some very bold ways. People’s expectations didn’t seem to match up with what they got, and therefore many singular instances within the film apparently constituted it all as mindless CGI trash.
People set a high standard for how Black Widow’s feminism was to be maintained, and when it was updated (allegedly, for the worst), they were enraged. Then, people advocated for an update on the character of Iron Fist, and when the status quo was maintained, the rage ensued. It’s for reasons like this that Marvel is so careful in making non-discriminative production decisions, such as for Black Panther, because ultimately they do just want to make everyone happy, because that results in them getting money. But in this hesitance, the essence of the creation itself has the potential to be lost.
As for the film industry as a whole, my mind instantly looks at the 2016 Academy Awards. There was quite the commotion over the fact that all of the nominees for Best Actor/Actress were white. What this says is that, evidently, all of the best actors and actresses last year were white. There shouldn’t be a criteria for how good a person is at what they do, because then it loses its value and meaning. Things such as whitewashing in films are definitely bad, but an award is supposed to determine what worked the best, not what looked the best. Creed’s Micheal B. Jordan did an excellent job, but The Martian’s Matt Damon hit home. Ideally, future films will be more diverse, but it should be for the sake of the creation, rather than the sake of diversity. An example of this would be Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. Neither of the two main male roles were white guys, and the main lead, Rey, was a strong female character. Her attributes could have easily been written into a male, but gender/ethnicity wasn’t the focus; the focus was the characters and the story, which displayed diversity as it exists in real life. I’m sure there are many more specific examples that could be looked at, but I believe the MCU gave a solid demonstration, that can then be applied elsewhere under one’s own incentive.
A wise friend once said to me that, “… anyone can be a critic, but not everyone can be a creator.” The amount of time that people put into even smaller scale films is ridiculous. So while constructive analysis and critique is healthy and exactly what creators want, it’s terrible to pick apart the flaws and set limits for the next guy who wants to give it a whirl. Creators should have no other reason to create then that they want to. If they’re lucky someone might even like it. The reason I wrote this is because it was something on my mind, and I wanted to share it. 3600 words later, I probably could have spent my time doing much more important things, like reading comics. But I’m excited to see what people will think, and whether my musings will be built upon in discussion or bashed by those whom analyze them.
For the values of today’s age to, as said, stem out organically, is for the film industry to become something greater. These values need to be presented naturally, just as is the world we live in. So until then, I guess we’ll just have to sit back and enjoy the movie.