In the last few years, fans and critics have started to call out Hollywood for its rather homogenous casts. Moviegoers are more determined than ever to see the real world reflected in film, and that means inclusive casting needs to become a norm. Companies such as Marvel have been criticized for whitewashing its characters, but it looks like the studio wants to learn from those complaints. According to Kevin Feige, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to become much more inclusive.
The president of Marvel Studios sat down for an interview with Vulture recently and said future MCU films will be increasingly diversified. "I think that in the movies we've already made, and certainly in the movies that are coming up, it will be as inclusive a group of characters as one could want," Feige said.
Feige did stress that the studio would cast actors who they felt were right for the role. But, moving forward, creators and casting officials feel, “it's important that we don't feel like a completely white, European cast."
Most recently, Marvel Studios has come under fire for casting Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One in Doctor Strange. The decision led hundreds of fans to protest the actress’ involvement given the character’s Tibetan origins. Swinton spoke about the controversy, saying that she had never been asked to play an Asian character, and Marvel mirrored her claim. The studio said the on-screen iteration of the Ancient One had a different ethnicity and gender than its comic book counterpart.
Other MCU projects like Netflix’s Iron Fist has also gone through the ringer with irate fans. Netizens made their disappointment know that Finn Jones had been cast as Danny Rand when Marvel could have retconned the hero to be Asian. Jones has asked fans to approach the Iron Fist series with open minds and to reserve judgements until they watch the series themselves.
In both these cases, fans have raised a question about bending an established character’s race, and Feige hinted that Marvel doesn’t make those changes lightly. The president pointed out that many of these comic book heroes were created during a time when creators were predominantly white or culturally insensitive.
"The comics have felt like that sometimes, in the early days," he admitted, "but frankly, even the comics in the '60s … I mean, Black Panther was created in the '60s. You look at Captain America's team [back then], and yes, there are things to cringe at, but they were being progressive at the time,” he said.
Today, Feige says Marvel Studios aims to provide a more realistic, diverse picture for moviegoers to see when they watch a superhero flick. For instance, Thor: Ragnarok casted Tessa Thompson to play a traditionally white female known as Valkyrie. And, when it comes to Spider-Man: Homecoming, the highly anticipated film brought in plenty of POC actors like Zendaya who will play Mary Jane Watson.
"It's definitely important to us," Feige stressed, "that these movies reflect the world."