When it comes to representation and inclusivity, the Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn’t really have the best track record. It is only in recent years that it has picked up its slack and got around to introducing strong female superheroes who are not just supporting characters and lead actors of color in its universe. These decisions, which have brought on major financial successes for the studio, have always been lauded for revolutionizing the film industry. But now, Marvel Studios EVP Victoria Alonso has confirmed that while inclusion and diversity are necessary, they are only moving in this direction because it brings them money.
Recently, Alonso appeared at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival where she promoted the upcoming Marvel show What If…? during a Women in Animation panel. As reported by Deadline, while she agreed that the current demand of the times is to show the world as it really is as they have a global audience and that means establishing Marvel as an inclusive and diverse universe, the real reason behind their decisions is to earn more money.
That’s the reason that Marvel made films like Captain Marvel and Black Panther. Earlier, the general consensus was that a film led by a woman or one which has a completely Black cast would never be able to achieve massive success. Alonso added that despite the claims, both the films were critical and commercial successes, crossing the billion-dollar mark at the box office. So, while Alonso invites people to assess these bold decisions of Marvel from a social or cultural point of view, the truth remains that the film industry remains a money-making trade where profit matters.
According to Alonso, “you are leaving money on the table by not representing” a major portion of their audience who will move on to other films and franchises if Marvel lacks representation. And, as she put it, the simple fact is that “if it makes money, why not make it?”
While she is stating a rather obvious fact, Victoria Alonso’s transparent truth sharing is a little shocking. But this is indeed the reality and Marvel is well-aware of it. In the past, Marvel Studios has not earned many brownie points when it comes to representation and has also recently attracted criticism for queer-baiting in the Disney+ series The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. But like Captain Marvel and Black Panther, there have been other positive developments as well in recent years like the upcoming solo Black Widow film headed by Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff. Anthony Mackie recently became the new Captain America on The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, the upcoming The Marvels will be headed by three female superheroes- Carol Danvers, Kamala Khan, and Monica Rambeau- and oh, the cast of Eternals. Also, recently Loki confirmed that the God of Mischief is gender fluid, and [spoiler alert] has introduced Lady Loki as well.
Even though all this amazing progress has been for a financial goal, the bigger picture is that Marvel Studios and its endless universe of characters are headed for a better, inclusive future and we couldn’t be more psyched!