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Too Much Marvel or Not Enough?

Not Enough: Matt Wincherauk | Editor in Cheif
Too Much: Hannah Grover | A&C Editor

 

Marvel
“Make them kiss!” “NOOOOO”
By brett nielsen

Are you sick of buff dudes fighting or do you lust after Chris Evans’ booty?

 

Pro:

Comic books movies. Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe began in 2008 with the first Iron Man movie starring Robert Downey Jr., comic book movies have transitioned into the mainstream action flick. In recent months, Marvel has come under some criticism over changing the race of a number of their characters, the amount of female superheroes in their movies, and the oversaturation of the movie market with superhero films. While criticism is certainly warranted in some situations (everything is worthy of criticism, no one is going to put out a perfect product), many of these are overblown, and many of the decisions made by Marvel are made to change some of the more offensive stereotypes perpetuated by the comic book industry back in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

The first thing I’d like to address is the accused whitewashing of a number of Marvel’s characters, most notably The Mandarin played by Sir Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3 and The Ancient One played by Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange. Marvel has unfortunately been put in a less than desirable situation with these two characters, with fans denouncing them for not casting traditional Asian actors in the roles. Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings really blew the lid off the whole debate over whitewashing historical settings and characters by having Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton play the likes of Moses and Ramses, historical characters who are clearly not white. The reason why I believe these situations should be viewed under two entirely different perspectives, are the changes Marvel made in order to portray significantly toned down characters that do not represent their originally incredibly racist stereotypes. Kingsley’s The Mandarin was changed from an incredibly stereotypical Asian warlord character, to one that more represented the funny and lighthearted side of Marvel. Putting out a character that backwards in today’s culture would have been an absolute disaster for the studio. By choosing Kingsley as their representation of The Mandarin, they made the best of a bad situation, while also putting forth one of Iron Man’s most well-known villains.

Today, the outrage has shifted to Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange, and the character that Tilda Swinton is playing. Again, the ‘60s and ‘70s of Marvel’s history rears its ugly head. The Ancient One has always been the stereotypical wise, old Asian master, which once again does not belong in today’s cinema. In addition to this, many people were calling for the casting of simply a generic Asian man, without understanding the actual history of the character. The Ancient One is Tibetan, not just simply Asian. The solution to this problem cannot simply just be passed off with, “just cast an Asian actor!” Once again, Marvel is making the best of the situation at hand, casting the best possible actor for their film that fits the style they want to portray. If we must to adhere to the character’s incredibly racist past, then you can’t also make the mistake of casting a Chinese, Japanese, or Korean actor because they look close enough to a Tibetan actor (of which Marvel already put to good use as the main villain of season two of Agents of Shield, by the way).

As Marvel moves into Phase Three of their movies, they continue to make unique and enjoyable movies that represent some of the most intricate and lovable comic book characters in history. Marvel has certainly made their mistakes in their production history, but they continue to learn how to better adapt their characters in a way that avoid the problematic history that both Marvel and DC have had since they began. I believe in the potential of the likes of Swinton’s The Ancient One, Black Widow, the Wasp, Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel and many of the other characters in Marvel’s upcoming cinematic universe.

 

Con:

So, I think that the amounts of Marvel movies coming up are both a good and bad thing. I can say that I am incredibly excited for Wonder Woman and Ms. Marvel because I won’t have to look at Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. for four hours and I get what I want – female centric plot and character.

I honestly couldn’t give two craps about Civil War because it’s just man pain. The movie should be about Peggy Carter because I really, really don’t care about Steve. I’m sorry, but what annoys me about Marvel movies is that they are given an amazing amount of character development for the female, people of colour, and disabled characters that are in the comics, and they blatantly ignore it. It’s gross and is geared pretty unashamedly to a male audience.

I get it – action movies are fun and there’s a lot that goes into the production of these films, which makes it very exciting for a lot of people. I, however, can only watch so much when it comes to three-hour films about blowing up stuff and men fighting each other dramatically.

This isn’t to say that you cannot enjoy Marvel movies and that you’re stupid for being excited about all of the upcoming films. It’s your taste and you’re more than welcome to express your love for Marvel movies to me. I will listen attentively and weigh in what I think is great about these movies so we can have a mutually beneficial conversation. But, the fact of the matter is that I am so tired of all of these dude bro Marvel movies that ignore Hawkeye’s deafness, because, frankly, I could use some representation, and I cannot ignore the fact that female characters are glossed over as “tough but sexy” caricatures that see themselves as bad people because they can’t have kids. It’s ridiculous, it’s outdated, and it’s getting old.

I don’t think they’re all bad, and I can say that for the most part, super hero movies are entertaining if done right. But I also think that it’s 2016 and it’s getting a bit ridiculous that we still have to white wash, eliminate disability, and create male-centric conflict to generate a blockbuster. The comics are certainly better than that, and their movie counterparts should be no exception. These movies are boring, they lack a large amount of relatable and acceptable character development, Joss Whedon can’t write female characters to save his life, and they’re not getting any more progressive than they’ve been in previous years.

You guys can kiss Marvel’s ass as much as you want, but know that the movies are largely problematic faves and something needs to change.

One comment

  1. To call these articles “pros” and “cons” is laughable, the positions would more aptly be named “informed” and “laughably ignorant”. It’s evident within the first paragraph that not only has Hannah Grover not done her research, but also that her understanding of life and culture is dictated by the misunderstood social justice mentality of the internet.
    I will give her credit for writing a critique piece of the Marvel universe. The story is gigantic and by the conclusion of the third phase it will span 22 movies and approximately 10 tv shows. The business model has been a massive success for Marvel, and on a larger scale The Walt Disney Company, but that by no means makes them infallible. Yes there should be more female centric films in the series. Yes there should be more diversity of race, sexuality, ability, and culture. Yes there should be more character development. Yes there should be more, but that does not mean there isn’t any.
    What Hannah Grover fails to grasp is that the Marvel universe is deeper than its trailers and advertising. To write Captain America: Civil War off as “man pain” is so mind-numbingly facile I actually had to put the paper down. Civil War as both a comic and a film deals with government surveillance, political bureaucracy, and the nature of ideological divides. This is why Wanda Maximoff and Natasha Romanoff are both major supporting characters in a movie that is supposedly about “man pain”. I don’t give a damn if Hannah wants the movie to be about Peggy Carter, she was not a central character to the story of the film. Peggy Carter is great and amazing in her own right and it would have done her a disservice to shoehorn her into a plot that wouldn’t advance her character. That’s why she has her own tv series.
    Of course it would be great to have more female centric movies in the Marvel universe. I personally can’t wait for Ms. Marvel and hold out a secret hope that they make her a young Muslim woman as she is in the current comic series. It would be great to have a Black Widow centric movie, but to say these women have no character development in the current movies, to say they are basically wallpaper to the story, is straight up bullshit. Already Natasha Romanoff has proven to be an extremely complex character. She is an incredibly capable agent who has successfully served both sides of several battles while staying true to her personal and political beliefs. She has shown an emotional and romantic connection to Bruce Banner, but never allowed it to overtake her character or her story line. She has expressed regret for letting the Russian government sterilize her, not because it made her ‘less of a woman’ but rather because they took away her ability to choose. If you can’t see that as an empowering statement for female characters everywhere I don’t know what to do with you. I won’t pick apart all of the women who have played an important role in the Marvel universe, that’s a piece for another time. However, I would like to point out that as excited as Hannah Grover is for Wonder Woman, it is not a Marvel movie and has no place in this argument.
    For all Hannah’s complaining about lack of representation and deep character development, she seems to be ignoring a large swathe of characters. Sam Wilson, James Rhodes, T’Challa, Nick Fury, Melinda May, Alphonso MacKenzie, and Luke Cage are all non-white major characters in their respective films and shows. Natasha Romanoff, Wanda Maximoff, Maria Hill, Peggy Carter, Sharon Carter, Gamora, Nebula, Pepper Potts, Jane Foster, Jessica Jones, Melinda May, Skye Johnson, Jemma Simmons, Karen Page, Laura Barton, and Bobbi Morse are all female major characters in their respective films and shows. Bucky Barnes, Bruce Banner, Matt Murdock, and Leo Fitz are all disabled mentally or physically and are still major characters! That’s not to say anything of characters from the X-Men films which don’t fall into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or the characters in the universe who suffer from afflictions such as PTSD (Tony Stark in Iron Man 3).
    Hannah Grovers conclusion that the films are “three-hour films about blowing up stuff and men fighting each other dramatically” with no substance whatsoever is shallow and boring. She is the one ignoring the blossoming diversity of the universe and writing all of these characters off. She is the one who is generalizing these women as “tough but sexy” and therefore brainless. She is the one who can’t be half-assed enough to bother looking up Joss Whedon’s track record of female characters. (Hint Hannah: I’d start with critical feminist thought on Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Firefly and see if you still think he “can’t write female characters to save his life”) I appreciate Hannah Grover’s efforts at critique, but I beg her: next time, do some actual research.