There's something moving in the Marvel Universe when it comes to diversity and diversity. The most successful film series of all time in terms of box office results is now also being continued with superhero series on the Disney+ streaming service, which was launched in 2019. Among other things, the production "Ironheart" has been announced for the coming year. It will be about a young developer who builds her own Iron Man suit.
As reported by US trade magazine Deadline, the series is only the first non-binary person to be cast in a major role in a Marvel series, Zoe Terakes.
The Marvel Universe was a white male club just a few years ago
It wasn't that long ago that Marvel Studios comic book films were populated by white male characters clearly coded straight. At the beginning of the film franchise, well-known superheroes such as Iron Man, Thor or Captain America were given their own solo films.
Black figures such as the "Iron Man" sidekick War Machine embodied by Don Cheadle or Captain America's best friend Falcon "were allowed" at most to give the Robin to a much more important Batman character, to compare from another comic - Universe to use. A film with a heroine at the center of the plot was also a long time coming.
Black Panther and Captain Marvel made a difference
A noticeable change of course then took place in the film universe for which super producer Kevin Feige is responsible in 2018. With "Black Panther" a black comic character was given a solo film for the first time. Set in the fictional African country of Wakanda, the work grossed over $1.3 billion at the box office - and also secured the Marvel Universe's only three Oscar wins to date.
Pretty much exactly one year later, "Captain Marvel" was finally released, the first major feature film with a heroine at its core. The superhero adventure starring Brie Larson, like Black Panther, grossed over $1 billion at the global box office.
In its third decade, Marvel embraces diversity
This trend towards more diversity has been gaining momentum in recent years. In 2021, for example, Marvel Studios, part of the Disney Group, released the martial arts action "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings", a work with a primarily Asian cast. In addition to the main actor Simu Liu, the comedian and musician Awkwafina and veteran actor Michelle Yeoh also work in front of the camera. The plot of the 25th Marvel feature film is also inspired by Chinese folk tales.
In the superhero team film "Eternals" by Oscar winner Chloé Zhao, which was released a short time later, an ensemble of heroes and heroines from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds is the focus of the millennial storyline. Lauren Ridloff was also the first deaf actress to be part of a Marvel film. The character Makkari, played by Ridloff, is also deaf within the world of the film.
"Eternals" also introduces LGBTQ hero Phastos, who is married to a man and also visibly kisses his partner in the film. Another innovation in the film series, which has been running since 2008.
"Ms. Marvel", "Echo" and "Ironheart": Marvel shines with all colors of the rainbow
This inclusive trend continues in the Marvel series on the Disney+ streaming service. In the miniseries "Hawkeye" from 2021, the indigenous actress Alaqua Cox became a second deaf actress after "Eternals" star Lauren Ridloff. The character Echo, played by Cox, will be getting her own spin-off series of the same name on Disney+ next year.
With "Ms. Marvel", a show started just a few months ago in which the first Muslim superhero made the leap from the pages of Marvel Comics to the screens of Disney+. The New Jersey-based character Kamala Khan visits the homeland of her immigrant parents in the series with Pakistan - and even undertakes a journey through time to the year 1947, during which the traumatic division of India is discussed.
It almost seems like a side note that long-time Marvel antihero Loki has also called himself bisexual in his own series on Disney+, and the aforementioned Falcon in 2024 with "Captain America: New World Order" gets his own solo film. The black actor Anthony Mackie becomes the new Captain America - and thus probably the most American and patriotic of all superheroes from Marvel Comics.