Representation in Marvel
Is the representation of women, racial minorities, or the LGBT community in Marvel comics an issue anyone is interested in? Comics have a history of reflecting the white male demographic that they have traditionally been marketed to. But things are a little different now, and there are more female, racial minority, and LGBT fans than ever. I just always wonder whether Marvel reflects the growing diversity of its fan base.
Women in comics have always had a somewhat contentious relationship with the medium, usually regarding sexualization and objectification, and violence (women in refrigerators). But now there is an increase in prominent female characters. Captain Marvel, Red She-Hulk, Journey into the Mystery (Lady Sif), Uncanny X-force (Marvel Now), Fearless Defenders, and others are all titles that have (or will in Marvel Now) focus on women. The X-franchise has a history of strong female characters, the new Avengers lineup includes more women than ever, and two of the four new FF are women. Are these initiatives signalling a growing equality between the genders in comics?
Women are still relatively marginal in comics. The main characters that drive the stories are still men. Civil war was about Iron Man verses Captain America, Schism was between Cyclops and Wolverine, and AvX was between Cyclops and Captain America. Women are often portrayed as insane (Scarlet Witch), passive in their own lives (Hope), and strong women are often killed off to further the development of male characters (Jean Grey). It's still not uncommon for teams to consist of mostly male or exclusively male characters.
This year was a big year for LGBT characters in comics. Scott Alan is now gay, Northstar is married, and Kevin Keller is a new role model for kids. In Marvel Wiccan and Hulkling kissed for the first time on panel and will be major players in an ongoing. Daken has been given a push and is an intriguing bixexual(?) villain. Minor gay characters are appearing everywhere, including Anole, Striker, Julie Power, Max Modell, etc. This shows an increasing acceptance of the LGBT community into a medium that sexual minorities have always related to.
But there still isn't an influential and prominent gay character in the MU. Northstar is the closest there is, and he's in the margins in Astonishing X-men. There isn't a gay character making decisions along with the big players like Captain America, Ironman, or Cyclops. A gay character doesn't have a single solo in the Marvel line. Like women in comics, gay characters are growing in number but are still largely marginal. There are even less trans characters in the MU. I want to see a likeable, strong, and confident LGBT character become a major player.
Racial minorities have been making progress perhaps even longer than women and the gay community have. Strom, Black Panther, Luke Cage, Psylock and others are major characters that shape what the MU looks like. Their numbers are smaller than that of white characters, but they are actually included in the decision making process in the MU. The new Avengers roster reflects this growing inclusive nature of comics. However white, blond, and blue eyed characters are in abundance. Captain American is the face of the MU, and has made Havok the face of mutant-human relations. There are fewer hispanic heroes, and even fewer East Asian and South West Asian characters.
So how do you guys feel? Is Marvel making genuine progress? Are they better in some areas than others? Is there even an issue to make progress on? Is it fine to alter or change story lines and teams for the sake of representation? Is Marvel giving its fan base what it wants, and fans want characters like Captain America, Ironman, Wolverine, and Cyclops (etc).
Last edited by Mad Ones; 12-09-2012 at 02:23 AM.