Mavel Comics' Commitment to Diversity Should Inspire Rival DC Comics To Do the Same
In the past few days, Marvel Comics has made some huge announcements. Marvel is unveiling an initiative known as Avengers NOW!, which will include some big changes to some of their most beloved characters. Here's what we know so far.
Marvel editor-in-chief Alex Alonso has been hinting at some major changes for Iron Man. The superhero has a new costume and relocates to San Francisco in Superior Iron Man #1. The newly-transformed Superior Iron Man has very ambitious plans for the city that some of its residents embrace, but not all," says Alonso. “Like the Superior Spider-Man, Superior Iron Man is a character that’s hard to root for.”
Meanwhile, both Thor and Captain America are completely different people — literally. Captain America's alter ego, Steve Rodgers, finds himself unable to take up the shield, so someone else has to take his place. And not just anyone: Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon, will step into the role. Thor also finds himself similarly unable to pick up his hammer, and photos reveal that the person to take his place is a woman.
It's huge news to have both a female Thor and an African-American Captain America. But it's not that big of a surprise for Marvel Comics, a company that has historically adapted well to changing times. The Falcon is actually the first African-American superhero to appear in mainstream comics. And Marvel also lays claim to the first openly gay superhero, X-Men's Northstar. In recent years, Marvel has been making even more moves to reflect the diversity of its readers: the comics have had a gay wedding; a half-black, half-Hispanic Spiderman; and a Muslim Miss Marvel.
However, Marvel's competitor DC Comics hasn't been as quick to diversify. Sure, they hold the title of the first transgender character in mainstream comics, whether its Batgirl 's Alysia Yeoh or Shvaughn Erin of Legion of Superheroes. And they do have the newest incarnation of Batwoman, Jewish lesbian Kate Kane. But DC won't allow Kate to marry her partner, and their most well-known superheroes remain male and lily white. Sure, there's a black Batwing, and many of the Batmans and Supermans are female or people of color in alternate universes, but there's yet to be a black or female Batman or Superman on the level of lady Thor and Sam Wilson's Captain America.
But hopefully, DC can learn to take a page or two from Marvel soon and start incorporating more diverse characters into their comics. There seems to be only two solutions with this: either make characters who aren't strictly cisgender, white, and male bigger players in the DC Universe, or reboot existing characters as such. And while the audience plays a major role in the former, the latter is a move DC Comics is thoroughly capable of on its own. But the comics powerhouse seems reluctant to do so, most likely because its audience could have some seriously strong reactions to major changes to canon superheroes. But its 2014 now: if we can have a gay superhero wedding and a female Thor, surely we can have Batman's alter ego be something other than a poster boy for white privilege.