Let’s take a jump aboard the controversial band wagon today. In recent months we’ve seen dramatic movements in terms of portraying diversity among our heroic and villainous ranks. Thor’s a woman, Captain America’s black. The Mandarin resembled an American Jihadist and Aquaman is now…Hawaiian (I think). Now I’m game as long as the content, or the reason, is justified in the story; it shouldn’t matter what direction we go in as long as the story progresses. For these justifications to be made, the character must remain true. Some characters represent what is far more important than the color of their skin or equipment beneath the belt.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe along with other emerging comic book films have been criticized for lack of diversity. I’m not one to waive the race card but there are solutions to these growing concerns. Below is what you can call my minority report detailing different variants of known heroes.
Marvel Cinematic Universe- Let’s Get Punisher Right This Time
I’m perfectly fine with Captain America being white; he is after all a displaced soldier from the 1940s. It’s statistically accurate. Punisher however is a different story. For a Punisher movie to be a cinematic success after 3 botched attempts, his story must be rebooted (yes, again) and modernized. Take him from the marshes of Vietnam and put him along the I.E.D. ridden roads of Iraq or Afghanistan. Now imagine him Hispanic (gasp). Maybe his name could be Frank “Castle” Castillo, known for his systematic warfare and impenetrable personal defenses. First and foremost he is a Marine, so his very image is not defined by race but through the weight of this title. He is death incarnate, doomed to walk the earth alone carrying the heavy burden of loss and responsibility to vindicate the wretched. I could definitely see Edgar Ramirez (Deliver Us from Evil, Wrath of the Titans) fulfilling this role, or if trained properly, Rudy Reyes.
Iron Fist Is White and Blond- Really?
How farfetched is the idea that Daniel Rand the Iron Fist be of Chinese descent? While I like the idea of a westerner embracing an ancient eastern/alien civilization, there is a cultural impact for the Iron Fist to be portrayed as half Asian for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Given his father’s history with the ancient city of K’un-Lun, it can be assumed that Wendell Rand married a Chinese woman before returning home and becoming a successful businessman. Then after the death of his parents Daniel has to balance conflicting cultural ideologies while grasping the power of the Iron Fist. If Brandon Lee were still alive he’d be ideal for this part, but given Keanu Reeves’ partial Chinese background and raging John Wick comeback he’s due for a Marvel movie role. Plus he knows Kung-Fu.
War Machine Re-Imagined
Officially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, War Machine is now Iron Patriot. Lt. James Rhodes can only pilot one suit at a time, thus leaving the mantle that is War Machine open and unguarded. Whatever plan Ultron has for said heroes, it can be assumed that these threats are growing and the more iron clad warriors the better. While Iron Man symbolizes American industrialism and innovation, War Machine represents American military supremacy and foreign policy. He’s the executive right hand of justice. He’s the chief of world police. Now imagine if he was a she. War Machine could symbolize a growing faction of prominent female pilots in the Air Force, thus empowering women as representing the new face of American militarism.
Turning the Page on the Classic Spiderman
By now we’re all a bit overwhelmed with Spiderman movies. I’ll confess that I too was so much of a Tobey Mcguire fan that I wasn’t sold on Andrew Garfield. With breaking news that he was to be re-rebooted, some weren’t at all too thrilled with yet another “fresh” take on the classic hero even though the prodigal son was returning to Marvel’s ranks. That being said the only way to justify a reboot would be to tell the story of Miles Morales. Granted we’ve been treated to two variations of Peter Parker, one good and one meh. With Miles Morales as the focal point for Marvel’s Spiderman we turn the page on a classic character and reinvigorate the dormant fan base. Marvel has, since the beginning of their cinematic universe, based their storylines on the Ultimate storyline, it only makes sense to swing away with the Ultimate Spiderman. Maybe then we’ll get the fan favorite Donald Glover to don the mask.
For some static comic enthusiasts, change is never welcomed. They prefer their heroes to stand the test of time not only for the enjoyment of a lifetime but for the livelihood of that creation. They want the original artists’ true vision to be carried on for an everlasting legacy. But unbeknownst to them, even if we make changes to these characters their legacy is fortified. The essence is transferred, rendered but not remade. We must handle these characters as we would any other literary figure like Odysseus, Dante, or Milton’s Satan and respect the dynamism and growth. It reminds me of what my creative writing professor always said, character above all else.