Joe Corallo: Moving… Pictures
First column of the new year. We’re already over 1% through the year. How’s it treating you so far?
Switching gears from last week where I was reflecting on 2015, I’ve been thinking about what we have in store for us in the year to come. Upon pondering what’s awaiting us over the course of the next twelve months, I realized that we may not be moving forward as fast as I was hoping. Particularly when it comes to the movies.
I’m starting with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as it’s still making money and hasn’t even opened in China yet. This may be considered a minor spoiler, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet and any plot detail revealed may cause you to succumb to an unimaginable rage, then I suggest you skip to the next paragraph. Anyway, the opening scroll of the movie reveals that the major plot point is that our heroes need to find a straight cis white guy, Luke Skywalker, to save them all. Sound familiar? And while the new main characters are a more diverse crew, they’re still not only serving to find previously stated straight cis white guy, but the movie gets hijacked by another straight cis white guy, Han Solo, the moment he comes on screen. Not quite the kind of progress you’d hope to see in a movie that was billed as being diverse.
How about the superhero/geeky movies coming up? Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice is about a couple of straight cis white guys who are up against a straight cis white genius with a straight cis white woman tacked on as an afterthought. That’s not to say it won’t be a good movie or we shouldn’t give it a chance, but that doesn’t change those facts.
DC may be offering us more diversity with Suicide Squad. Will Smith as Deadshot, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc, and Viola Davis as Amanda Waller do give me hope that we will be seeing a more diverse cast in a superhero movie, possibly the most diverse yet in the Marvel and DC universes big budget films. However, this could just as easily end up being primarily about The Joker and Harley Quinn. Will Smith did indicate that Deadshot and Joker would both be pursuing Harley Quinn, so Deadshot may have a significant role in the film. However, this may also indicate that we’ll have a straight Harley Quinn as opposed to her bi comic counterpart. Not to mention the heteronormative nature of a love triangle involving two men going after one woman who is only allowed to enjoy one of them intimately.
As for Marvel’s offerings, we’re looking at Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange from Disney and Deadpool and X-Men: Apocalypse from Fox. Starting with Captain America, we do have the introduction of Black Panther into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Falcon and War Machine will also have roles in the film, in addition to Black Widow and Scarlet Witch. That being said, the movie is being carried by Captain America, a straight cis white guy, protecting his friend Bucky, a straight cis white guy, primarily from Iron Man, a straight cis white guy. Noticing a pattern?
The Doctor Strange movie, from what we know of the casting and plot synopsis so far, is that it will be about a magical straight cis white guy that needs to stop another magical straight cis white guy.
Deadpool is about a cis white guy, but this one is supposedly pansexual. We’ll see what this ends up meaning. It could be an actual representation of a pansexual character. It could also easily be used to have Deadpool jokingly hit on guys while only having a more realistic interest in women. I’m hopeful, but I’ll believe he’s pansexual in the film when I see it.
X-Men: Apocalypse, while having some diversity in its cast, doesn’t mean it’ll be about diversity. These movies tend to revolve around Xavier and Magneto, two straight cis white guys. Cyclops and Jean have been recast and brought back into the fold of the X-Men movie franchise. A straight cis white heteronormative relationship is just what the X-Men franchise needs! It’s not like Storm could have ever had an interesting relationship in the comics that could translate to film. To be clear, she has, and I was being sarcastic. Also, casting Oscar Isaac, a Hispanic actor, to play the Egyptian villain Apocalypse is a bit troubling too.
As I was saying earlier, none of this means that these movies will be bad. This may very well be the best slew of superhero movies yet. However, they are lacking quite a bit in the diversity department. Having slightly more diversity in the cast of a movie while still having straight cis white guys moving the plot forward and taking up the majority of the screen time is really missing the point.
The point being that we need to be exposing ourselves to people of different backgrounds, points of views, and people who have had radically different life experiences than we commonly see depicted in media. We don’t get that by having them walk on screen or onto the pages of a comic. We get that by having them be an integral part of the plot, or better yet, the focus of the plot. A radical concept, I know.
The comics and the TV series are doing a bit of a better job this year. Shows like Supergirl and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., comics like Midnighter, the new Black Panther series written by Ta-Nehisi Coates starting this year, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, and many other examples exist that show that we’re continuing to make some progress in both of those mediums. That said, out of the 11 oversized 50th issues DC has coming out in a couple of months, eight of them star straight cis white guys, two of them star straight cis white women, and one stars a bisexual white woman.
The movies really do need to step up their game in the diversity department. It may be too late for 2016 already. We do at least have the Wonder Woman movie coming out next year. Let’s hope for better luck in 2017.