By Aaron Bumgarner
This post isn’t breaking news or anything; it’s already been a week since Marvel’s announcement altered the very fabric of our universe. To recap (Feel free to skip over the recap if you don’t care about Marvel, insightful commentary lies on the other side!):
- Captain America: Civil War (May 6, 2016): Civil War was a popular storyline that every fiber of my being wants to spoil for you, but the laws that govern blogging mandate that I don’t. I can tell you that it involves the government mandating that superheroes reveal their secret identities.
- Doctor Strange (November 4, 2016): Are we excited about this? Do we know anything at all about Doctor Strange?
- Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (May 5, 2016): Already bought my ticket. Okay, not really, they’re not on sale yet, but in spirit.
- Thor: Ragnarok (July 28, 2017): Nothing to say about this one, mostly because I’m still not sure if Ragnarok is a villain or a disease.
- Black Panther (November 3, 2017): This is by far the coolest announcement. Yes, because it’s a black superhero, but even more because of the actor they chose to play Black Panther: Chadwick Boseman, of 42 and Get On Up. This is super promising.
- Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 (May 4, 2018): I think this is where Thanos finally does stuff.
- Captain Marvel (July 6, 2018): Another exciting one, because it’s Marvel’s first movie devoted to a female superhero. More on this in a second.
- Inhumans (November 8, 2018): This one’s intriguing, because Inhumans are a little more obscure than everyone else on here, with the exception of the Guardians. Inhumans figures to expand the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s cosmic side even more than the first Guardians already has. Also, there are rumors that Marvel wants Inhumans to become their version of X-Men, since Fox still has the rights to that and won’t be giving them up anytime soon.
- Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 (May 3, 2019): Man, I wish they’d stop splitting the third book into two movies…wait, you’re saying this is based on a comic book? Man, and all this time I thought these were adapted from real literature.
And there you have it: your cinematic schedule for the next five years. Don’t schedule anything on those dates, or you’ll be such a loser.
First things first, this is freaking awesome. I love the Marvel movies, and they keep getting better. A quick power ranking of all the Marvel movies so far, from best to worst: Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: Winter Soldier, The Avengers, Iron Man, Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 3, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk. That’s a lot of movies already. Feel free to argue the rankings in the comments, but don’t you dare disagree with me. As a side note, I love that Marvel announced this after DC revealed their comparably paltry lineup. No love lost there.
I’m also really excited that Marvel is giving us a black superhero and a female superhero. We should be excited about this. Superhero movies have been en vogue since the turn of the century, and the only solo super-women movies we’ve gotten have been half-assed versions of Catwoman and Elektra, two dynamic characters in the comics that were obliterated onscreen. Fortunately, though, Hollywood has given us plenty of movies devoted to black superheroes, and…oh, just Blade? Really? Wow.
See, here’s the problem with this big Marvel announcement: It’s too late. I’m happy about the announcement, and I’ll go see every one of these movies. But they dropped the ball. Black Widow should have had her own movie years ago. At least before Rocket Raccoon, for the love of God. Maybe there’s more to the story. Maybe they couldn’t get scheduling worked out with Scarlet Johansson, maybe the script just wasn’t ever right…or maybe Kevin Feige (the head of Marvel studios) just didn’t care enough. Regardless, the lack of priority on diversity has been abhorrent.
And as far as a black superhero goes, they didn’t even have to make a movie about one of the comics world’s many black heroes. They could have done what Fox has done with the Human Torch and ignored his race entirely. In the comics, the Torch is the white Johnny Storm, but in the upcoming Fantastic Four movie, he’ll be played by the very not-white Michael B. Jordan. They cast Johnny based on talent, not on race. I would have been fine with that for any of these characters.
Sitting here right now, the idea of a black Captain America onscreen instead of a white one is tantalizing. Or why couldn’t Idris Elba have played Thor instead of Chris Hemsworth? They could have done anything in those first few movies. They would have angered the fan base, but after Iron Man the demand for superhero movies was so high, alienating an extremely small subset of the fans wouldn’t have made a dent in their profits.
So no, I’m not going to give credit to Marvel for trailblazing or championing diversity. To be clear, I think the comic book division of Marvel is doing a stellar job of pushing diversity in their titles. They’re not perfect, and they still make mistakes, but they’ve made big strides. The sins of Marvel’s movie division are more egregious and more public. So far, they’ve announced one movie for one female superhero and one movie for one black superhero. Woohoo, I guess. Should women and African-Americans thank Marvel for the scraps? I’m all in on both Captain Marvel and Black Panther, and I hope they’re brilliant blockbusters. But when it comes to assessing Marvel Studios, it’s too little too late, and it will take a lot of time and effort to even come close to repairing the damage.
Aaron Bumgarner is a speech-language pathologist for Oklahoma City Public Schools, but he’d be okay with Marvel Studios offering him a job.