The eternal question…
(For sticklers and fanboys, this can be taken as the entire franchise, or just the films, or just the comics, or any combination of things involving the two caped crusaders)
Stick your answers in the ask box! Voting closes 12PM on Wednesday.
Seventy Years of Bat Evolution
via Olivia Davis
When Marvel first announced the Avengers Vs X-Men series, I was scared. Very scared. It’s no secret Marvel have kicked up the amount of universe-wide story arcs within the past decade and some people think this is for the, good whereas others are less enthused. I am one of those who enjoy it; Secret Invasion was to me what the Bible is to Christianity and I will be buried with that book. The reason I was scared at the AvX announcement was because I am a die hard X-Men fanatic and have been since I was old enough to read. So with the popularity of The Avengers growing because the film and its multiple prequels I feared they would bury the X-Men like they buried Moon Knight (Remember his part in Shadowland? No? Me neither. It never happened! Haha!).
The first few issues were a bit all over the place, to be honest, especially the whole back and forth between the Avengers and the X-Men over who was to win the super-powered custody battle that would decide the fate of the Earth (which was quite appropriate given that everyone was clad in their Fathers for Justice superhero costumes!). Basically a big fiery cosmic space-bird threatens to destroy the Earth and these guys are fighting over custody of one Hope Summers, who is believed to be the key to stopping/harnessing said space-bird’s power. Captain America thinks its going to burn everyone’s faces off whereas Cyclops reckons it’s here to save mutantkind from extinction. So after a couple of fights and some verbal sparring, the big nasty space-bird appears and decides to disregard the plot and inhabit six of the X-Men, solidifying them as the villains. This made me very happy as the characters who were inhabited by aforementioned nasty-big-great-angry-cosmic-space-bird were all pretty sinister in their own ways (apart from maybe Colossus). Here’s where Marvel shoe-horn in the ol’ Spidey “With great power comes great responsibility” angle, as the six inhabited X-Men now have the power to shape the world as they please. But the power is absolute and as they say: power corrupts.
From this point on things get real as heck. So real. Too real. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read it but now you’ve got the idea, let me talk about my feelings on the whole arc. First off, I like that Iron Fist was given some importance, even if it was a little Mister Miyagi-type mentor role. Daniel Rand and his iron fist have been getting more and more recognition as of late and it’s about time. Another star of the story is definitely Spider-man. I loved him and his heroics and blatant disregard for his own safety; Peter Parker truly embodies what it is to be a superhero whilst remaining human. Yes, he has crippling insecurities at times and he talks too much but I think that’s more of a coping mechanism for himself, rather than a projection of his terrible jokes. The angle of Cyclops becoming so fanatical about saving the mutant race that it turned him into the opposite of what he stood for was quite well done and I feel that it couldn’t have been anyone else other than him to be the main villain. Turning Xavier’s golden child against the dream he’d been fighting for his whole life was magnificent and not entirely a surprise as cracks were showing as early as the Utopia arc.
The Avengers themselves weren’t really that prominent in proceedings as I’d have liked; it was more of the honorary Avengers doing big things for the story such as Spider-man, Iron Fist, Black Panther, Nova etc. This may have been to make the situations look more dire though. A lot of the time the big names in Earth’s Mightiest Heroes weren’t able to deal with things such as Tony Stark’s inability to stop the Phoenix force on several occasions, Thor’s defeat by Magik and Colossus & Cap’s constant rescue missions resulting in losses.
In conclusion, it appeared we were in for quite a wobbly story for the first few issues but AvX blossomed into an interesting arc with a lot of character exploration on some key names especially Peter Parker, Cyclops and Hope Summers. I’m very excited to see the what the aftermath brings as there are a lot of threads left to explore, and a lot of great things that could be set in motion. I think it would be unwise to have a universe-wide story again any time soon but given Marvel’s habits in recent years, we may see another very soon.
When you think superheroes most of the time you think of paragons of justice with an uncanny supply of spandex and powers/traits beyond that of regular humans. Now proceed to ask yourself what race a superhero should be… That’s correct, dear reader; it doesn’t matter. That should be a given though, right? Well apparently not within certain parts of the comic book community.
The first case I’m going to talk about was the joke that started online of actor/rapper/comedian Donald Glover being cast as Spider-man back in 2010. As Glover himself has mentioned in interviews and some of his stand-up there was a good amount of support of this idea but also a large influx of people who didn’t want this to happen simply because of Donald’s race. The idea that Peter Parker needed to be a white guy is perplexing given his origin story - a bright teenager, who is socially awkward, a bit of a nerd and comes from a lower middle class family; these characteristics are certainly not specific to one race, and comic readers from all walks of life are able to identify with them. “Peter Parker” is not a “white” name in as diverse a country as America and changing the race of his relatives to fit his origin would not change the story at all. The famous words of Uncle Ben - “With great power comes great responsibility” - would have no less power coming from an Asian man or a Hispanic man, so why is it that people cling to the idea that white comic book characters cannot be played in media by PoC or re-booted as different races?
In 2011, Marvel introduced Miles Morales into their comics. Miles is not only the first Black Spider-man but also the second Latino Spider-man, due to him being mixed race (the first Latino Spidey being Miguel O’Hara from 2099). Morales was received positively despite some claims of Marvel pandering to make a PC stunt superhero. These claims, however, only show just how important the introduction of more important PoC characters is: if every time a new and diverse character is given the label of politically correct pandering then it only serves to shows an unwillingness in readers to move forward. You cannot dismiss a character based on their race because you think their conception is pandering. Superheroes often represent exaggerations of the world we live in: Iron Fist represents the willingness to learn from other cultures and to respect them in turn; The X-men represent the desire to break down segregation and prejudice;and here is Miles Morales who represents any working class kid who can make good on great power given to them in whatever way it manifests itself, just like Peter Parker before him. Do any of these characters need to be a certain race? Not at all. The messages remain the same.
The next point I want to look at is PoC actors playing white characters when comics are (inevitably) adapted to movies. As mentioned before, the concept of Donald Glover as Spider-man ruffled a lot of feathers within the community, but on top of this there have been many other black actors being brought in to play characters from Nick Fury to Heimdall (played by Idris Elba in Thor) to Electro (Jamie Foxx) to The Human Torch (Michael B. Jordan was recently cast for the Fantastic Four reboot). With the casting of these characters came the same criticisms; apparently they don’t “fit” the character because of their skin colour, or the characters aren’t PoC in the comic books so making PoC actors play characters that are white “insults the source material” and so on and so forth. Let’s take a look at the case of Samuel L. Jackson and his portrayal of Nick Fury. Fury is traditionally a white character in the main Marvel universe, however even before The Avengers hit cinemas, there was a black Nick Fury in Marvel’s Ultimate universe. The popularity Samuel L. Jackson garnered for playing Nick Fury led to events in the main universe of Marvel replacing traditionally white Nick Fury with a mixed race Nick Fury eerily similar to Samuel L Jackson who turned out to be white Nick Fury’s son. You follow that? Good. This is a great example of the progress that is happening and needs to continue happening within media in regards to PoC characters. Although there are many people who oppose this, there is an obvious demand for more PoC in comics. A demand so powerful it’s impacting the biggest comics in Marvel’s publishing universe.
Lastly there are some characters that are a certain race that cannot be changed because it would make no sense. This is only in very rare cases however such as Black Panther. The reason his race would not likely change is because he’s the king of a fictional African nation in which there has been deliberate measures put in place to avoid contact with most of the outside world so having him white or Asian wouldn’t make sense geographically or logistically. Yes there is some logic in a universe where people shoot beams out of their faces and or/hands.
So in conclusion comic books still have a ways to go before they’re as diverse as we’d like them to be but changes are being made every day. Perhaps the most notable announcement is the recent reveal that the new Ms. Marvel will be a young Pakistani-American Muslim girl. These are big shoes to fill in my opinion as I loved Carol Danvers who came before her but I hope the new Ms. Marvel is just as good if not better!
Here’s a list of my Top 10 PoC Marvel Characters for you to read up on:
- Luke Cage
- Shang Chi
- Silver Samurai