For the longest time, superhero films only centred around straight white men. From Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman, all the way to X-Men in the year 2000 to Batman Begins in 2005, Iron Man in 2008 and Man of Steel in 2013, all of these heroes were both male and white. While many of these movies are undeniably awesome, it still kinda sucked to be a person of colour or a girl or LGBT, watching TV at home and realising that none of these badass heroes looks anything like you. Sure, occasionally we would get a gem like Blade, but the 1998 movie about a half-vampire isn’t exactly a mainstream property.
However, times are slowly changing. Over the past few years, we’ve slowly started to see more women in leading roles of comic book movies (Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel) and even a POC hero (Black Panther). Soon, we will also be getting an Asian comic book character, Shang-Chi on the big screen. And Tom Holland, who plays Spider-Man/Peter Parker in the MCU couldn’t be more pleased. In a recent interview with Gay Times, Tom Holland spoke about the need for greater diversity in big franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). When asked if fans should expect to see a major LGBTQ Marvel character in the coming years or even if he would like to see a gay version of Spider-Man, the actor said:
“Yeah of course. I can’t talk about the future of the character [Spider-Man] because honestly I don’t know and it’s out of my hands. But I do know a lot about the future of Marvel, and they are going to be representing lots of different people in the next few years. The world isn’t as simple as a straight white guy. It doesn’t end there, and these films need to represent more than one type of person.”
Look, I’m sure loads of people are going to read this and roll their eyes or heck, facepalm at the mere sight of the title. It always happens whenever diversity is brought up, especially in film and the arts. But the importance of diversity and representation cannot be understated. Film has the power to inspire, break stereotypes and shape the way you look at yourself and the world around you. Watching movies and seeing protagonists that are only of a particular race, gender, sexual orientation, etc can subconsciously influence the way you think of people that fit that demographic and the others who don’t.
In simple terms, if you’re only exposed to movies where the heroes are white and the villains are black, then it’s likely that you’ll grow up believing that white people are good and black people are bad. The same concept applies to gender and sexual orientation too. It’s great that the MCU will continue to churn out films that are more diverse and inclusive.