Marvel, along with Star Wars (nice job Disney) maintains as an industry leader when it comes to putting out some of the biggest, best, and most popular movies we’ve seen in quite some time. And those initiatives aren’t slowing down any time soon. Marvel has some massive movies on the way that continue to push boundaries in terms of budget and interwoven story arcs. It’s an exciting time to be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe movie world. But they’ve also laid out their intentions in casting decisions moving forward as well. Kevin Feige has said that he wants the Marvel Cinematic Universe to push towards making even more of their characters women and persons of color. For a franchise that started out looking, well, basically all the same, there is a continued push for diversity across their universe.
For what it’s worth, Marvel appears as if they are already well on the way with this initiative. For their upcoming and much-anticipated Phase 4, they have 10 movies in the current pipeline. Of that group, it appears at least five of them have cast females or persons of color in the starring or co-starring roles. That includes Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson), Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Simu Liu), Eternals (Angelina Jolie), Black Panther 2 (maybe Letitia Wright but probably Winston Duke), Captain Marvel 2 (Brie Larson), and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (Evangeline Lilly). Is there still something of an imbalance? Probably, but it doesn’t mean the franchise movie lineup hasn’t at least worked toward a total course-correction since things kicked off in the first few films.
And on the television/Disney+ front for Marvel shows, things are looking solid as well from a casting and diversity perspective. WandaVision (Elizabeth Olsen), The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Anthony Mackie), Ms. Marvel (Bisha K. Ali), Hawkeye (Hailee Steinfeld), and She-Hulk (Tatiana Maslany) comprise more than half of the lineup. If the studio’s mission is to continue this casting trend going forward, they’ve established a solid base for how a diverse group will interact in the universe. One has to assume the numbers continue trending in the same direction.
Marvel’s Phase 4 did receive praise for its initiatives with diversity in their casting after announcing tons of new roles and directors, but there is still a feeling among some that work needs to be done. Anthony Mackie was recently vocal in his displeasure around some of the other behind-the-scenes roles available for minorities saying the studio continued to box in certain directors based on their race. The statements were broad but still speak to the idea that while on-screen talent initiatives are headed in one direction, across the board there are still problems out there.
With any franchise and studio as big as Marvel is these days, it will almost always be tough to satisfy all fans and all agendas. The world is just massive at this point and has spread out to just so many works. But from a top-down perspective having a modus operandi around being thoughtful and diverse in casting is a fantastic starting point.