Category Archives: Movies

SJW! You HAVE to see Suicide Squad this weekend. Here are 9 reason why.

1. Suicide Squad is by far the most diverse super hero movie released to date. Primary cast include 4 women, 3 black people, an Asian, and a Latino. I wrote about comparing diversity in this to other franchises here– (Diversity in Comics Movie Roundup) a few months back. It was the most diverse super hero team at the time and I forgot to count the Mexican American El Diablo.

2. #Feminism!: You insisted that anyone who didn’t shell out for #Ghostbusters was a sexist, racist, misogynist pig. Guess what? Suicide Squad, as noted above has four powerful, diverse women at its core. That’s the same number as in Ghostbusters, ladies! Any think piece supporting the poorly reviewed financial flop that Paul Feige foisted on us also instructs that we MUST support a film that puts Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Cara Delevingne, and Karen Fukuhara into starring roles! By comparison to get to this many heroic women in the Avengers franchise we have to add two movies together and count one character twice (Maria Hill & Black Window from Avengers and Black Widow & Scarlet Witch from Age of Ultron).

3. Firsts for Super Hero Movies: Remind me who played the black female lead in any Marvel Cinematic Universe film. It’s ok, take your time pouring over IMDB, I know they have 13 films, so this may take a while. Find her yet? No, because there hasn’t been one, nor will there be one until Black Panther, which will be the 18th film in the line.

Viola Davis steps into the role of Amanda Waller (like Sam Jackson’s Nick Cage only instead of the easy route of uniting heroes, she picks out really bad dangerous people and uses them to benefit the US). Waller has been a fixture of the Suicide Squad in comics since always—as integral to the team as Deadshot or Captain Boomerang, only actually more so. You can have the Squad without even its most storied members. Without Waller pulling the strings? Never happened. Davis’s turn as “the Wall” will be the first starring role for a black woman since Halle Berry’s ill-fated Catwoman and it comes in the DCEU’s 3rd release. Not its 18th.

You can repeated the above exercise for the first Latino hero (not even one slated to appear in Marvel), for Asian hero (yes, Guardians of the Galaxy has the aliens Drax and Gamora played Asian and Latina actors, but portrayed as aliens and dressed in makeup approaching infinity. By comparison, El Diablo and Katana are Latino and Asian characters played by Latino and Asian actors.)

4. Intersectionality: This piggy backs on points 2 and 3 above, but remember that #feminist theory about the experiences of doubly marginalized people? The four women in the film are a mentally ill white female, a mentally ill bisexual white female, a black female, and an Asian female. Ladies! You can’t get more victim hierarchical than this! Compared to Ghostbusters with 3 cis white females and one broadly played black female stereotype (which, can we just say Viola Davis’s Waller will definitively NOT be?) it’s pretty clear that Suicide Squad not Ghostbusters is the true #feminist mea culpa of the summer.

5. Race shifting to promote diversity: Suicide Squad sees Will Smith cast as Deadshot, a traditionally white anti-hero. Where are our think pieces praising this brave choice? If Smith is too big a star to merit support for this, what about Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s turn as Killer Croc, another character that could easily have been portrayed by a despised cis white male? Not one, but two characters have been given to actors based on I am only assuming their acting chops without regards to race. Where are our blog posts praising their ingenuity?

6. First Man on Man kiss in a super hero movie: Yep. Jared Leto’s Joker kisses another dude. If you don’t go see this movie it can only be because you’re a #homophobe! Come on, SJWs! You aren’t secretly, homophobes, are you?

7. Non-heteronormative characters: Did I mention above that Harley Quinn is bisexual? Another first to have a non hetero lead in a super hero movie here. Unless you are denying the experiences of bisexual women here!

8. Even Minor Characters feature diversity: Scan the IMDB page. Even in minor roles we have blacks, Asians, and Latinos.

9. Every excuse you could use to not go, applied in equal measure to #Ghostbusters: Bad reviews? Check. Produced by a Major Corporation? Check. Directed by a man? Check! There is no weaseling out of this one, ladies and gender non-specifics! Suicide Squad also had not one, not two, but three GOOD trailers compared to the travesty that was the Ghostbusters trailer.

So, Social Justice Warriors! Are you with me? Are you on your way to see David Ayers and DCEU’s Suicide Squad this weekend? Are you prepared to write reviews where you boldly declare “Women can be super villainous anti-heroes, Suicide Squad is good, get over it?” Are you ready to buy tickets and then not use them to prop up this paragon of Social Justice?

Or are you just hypocrites? Do you just want me to suffer through a #Ghostbusters remake I didn’t ask for, didn’t want, that looked bad, and whose creators went out of their way to insult me while you sit at home and skip diverse movies because they comes from DC/Warner Brothers or aren’t “quippy” like Marvel/Disney movies?

Disney Princesses Re-imagined As Stick Figures

Disney

Diversity in Comics Movie Roundup

I’m not much of an analyst when it comes to movie. I’m also an unabashed fan of super-hero movies, particularly DC superheroes who I follow in the comics. I’m also a straight white dude. This probably makes me the least useful person to be “writing” (and I use the term loosely) this particular post. But, here goes anyways. . .

Just going to give a break down of the diversity we’ve seen (including projected films) in the MCU and the new DCU line-up. (I’m not going to get into the now defunct Sony Spider-verse or the Fox X-Men/Fantastic Four line-ups– gotta draw the line somewhere I guess).

I’ll be looking at the team films, and will cover solo films in a future post at some point. I’ll be checking the number of heroes by race and gender. We will leave sexual preference out for now because– not surprisingly, not a single character in any film is confirmed to be a non-heterosexual character currently. For solo films I’ll make a distinction between a title character and supporting characters. I’m also going to count Loki as a hero– deal with it. Characters like Jane Foster, however, who are supporting characters and not heroes do not get counted in. Also– characters who are green/red/crocodile skinned count as the actor playing the character.

Anyways, here goes. . .

Marvel’s Avengers (Fist Movie)

Line-up: Ironman, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Loki, Nick Fury, Agent Coulson, Agent Maria Hill

Male white heroes: 7

Female heroes: 2 (being very generous counting Maria Hill here– though that brings in Coulson as well so its somewhat a wash)

African Descent heroes: 1

Asian Descent heroes: 0

Latin Descent heroes: 0

Marvel’s Avengers (Age of Ultron)

Line-up:  Ironman, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, Vision, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, War Machine, Falcon

Male white heroes: 7

Female heroes: 2

African Descent heroes: 2 (both in tertiary roles, but present)

Asian Descent heroes: 0

Latin Descent heroes: 0

Guardian’s of the Galaxy

Line-up: Starlord, Gamora, Drax, Groot, Rocket– wow this one is hard don’t know if we should count half the cast and no one is in their natural look mostly. Let’s go for inclusion and add in– Ronin, Yondu, Korath, Corpsman Dey, and Nova Prime

Male white heroes: 5

Female heroes: 3

African Descent heroes: 2 (Korath and Gamora)

Asian Descent heroes: 1 (Drax)

Latin Descent heroes: 1 (Gamora)

(Note, I don’t have Vin Diesel’s Groot counted in any category– he doesn’t self identify as white/Caucasian but isn’t clearly any other category).

By far Guardian’s is the most diverse of the Marvel films to date. Avenger’s Infinity War looks to be basically the line-ups for Guardian’s and Age of Ultron combined so I am not going to go over that again. . . though we might add Ant Man (male white), Dr. Strange (presumably male-white), Captain Marvel (female), and Black Panther (African descent) by then– or maybe not.

And on to the projected DC films. . .

Justice League

Line-up (presumed): Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Cyborg, Green Lantern, Shazam

White male heroes: 5 (4 if we get John Stewart Green lantern)

Female heroes: 1

African Descent heroes: 1 (2 with John Stewart)

Asian Descent heroes: 1 (Jason Mamoa’s Aquaman who is Native American and Hawaiian)

Latin Descent heroes: 0

We still don’t have any casting news for the Flash or Green Lantern so those parts could swing into any category.

Suicide Squad– the term “heroes” for this is pretty nebulous since the whole concept of Suicide Squad is “super villains are the heroes”.

Line up: Deadshot, Joker, Harley Quinn, Rick Flagg, Captain Boomerang, Enchantress, Amanda Waller, Killer Croc, Katana

White male heroes: 3

Female heroes: 4

African Descent heroes: 3 (counting Killer Croc)

Asian Descent heroes: 1

Latin Descent heroes: 0

This line up is by far the most female centric, and the shift of making Will Smith Deadshot pretty good inclusion for African Descent heroes here as well. This film also features Katana, the only Asian Descent hero playing a character whose story is typically that of Asian descent.

I’m not going to draw a lot of conclusions beyond the raw numbers– I’ll leave that to more cognizant authors. Just breaking things down and taking a look at where we stand in getting other than while male characters into the MCU and DCU films.

Diversity in the Marvel Universe

I should probably start with a disclaimer– I’m a white dude. I am also, admittedly more of a DC fan than Marvel when it comes to comics. Despite that, its clear that Marvel has been dominating the live action movie section of the super hero genre– and deservedly so. Their films are typically spot on, filled with interesting characters of all varieties, well plotted, and exciting.

There has been a lot of speculation about what movies will be announced to fill out the release schedule that runs through 2018. Some of these we know will fill in with Captain America 3, Avengers 3, Thor 3, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Dr. Strange, and Ant-Man. That leaves very few remaining slots.

We already know that an Iron-man four starring Robert Downey Jr. is highly unlikely. The other titles that have been rumored to fill into the remaining four slots between now and the end of 2018 include the Inhumans, Black Panther, another Hulk Movie. We also cannot discount that another direct sequel (Cap or Thor 4, GotG 3, Ant Man or Dr Strange 2) might seep in to take one of these spots. There could also be a spin-off from Guardians, most like Rocket Racoon.

Marvel has basically declared that there is no female oriented movie dedicated in this lineup. Ms. Marvel is highly unlikely, and they do not own any of the X-Men women, or conceivably Spiderwoman. Elektra has come back to Marvel with the Daredevil character, but if she gets a project it will conceivably be in the Netflix model tv lineup. I would suggest, despite the long time between now and the start of DCs own cinematic Universe Wonder Woman will have a solo movie before any Marvel universe heroine well.

So where does this leave us in respects to having a Marvel superhero movie not headlined by a white dude?

The only project rumored at this point which might not be, is “The Black Panther.” I think this would be a serious mistake for several reasons.

1. “The Black Panther” debuted in a time when diversity in comics was low, and yes, many of the first African or African American super-heroes had the word black in their names– Black Panther, Black Lightning, Black Eagle, Black Spider, Blackwing, Black Goliath. Its a somewhat problematic legacy which really only affects two characters that are still modern heroes (Black Panther from Marvel and Black Lightning for DC– Black Adam is a somewhat different story as Black describes his soul not his skin color, since he is of middle eastern origin, but deserves mention as a corollary).

Needless to say I don’t feel Marvel needs to use a character which uses this legacy “code-word” in the title of the first African or African American headlined super hero movie (since either Hancock or Steel depending on how you feel about Hancock, a property not related to either of the big two comics publishers).

What purpose does it serve? Is the black here to tell African American audiences that they can watch this movie, because, you know, “Black Panther! see, we do movies for you too!”

Is it there to tip-off Marvel’s current mostly white audience not to bother with this one? “Black Panther– leave that for them, no need for you to bother”. This could lead to another, doubly problematic issue if the movie goes over, an attitude of “See, we gave you Black Panther and it flopped, we’re done with that; now more white dudes for the next 10 years.”

2. The Black Panther, aka T’Çhalla, is an African prince from a make believe country known as Wakanda. That’s fine in and of itself– the character is what he is and a Black Panther movie could be interested. But what it is not is an African American superhero. Is the message that the only positive dark skinned heroes worthy of being venerated are mythical princes from Africa?

Why not any of the other African American characters in the pantheon of Marvel heroes?
Storm would be a Fox owned movie; Mile Morales as Spiderman would be Sony. Luke Cage and Deathlok have been given over to Netflix and ABC TV respectively. Blade already had three movies.

Unfortunately, that leaves the roster of Marvel African American characters somewhat thin. (Don’t believe me? take a look at this list here– http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_black_superheroes).

Outside the characters already discussed, the Marvel list gets slim fast (Brother Voodoo? The Human Top?) But there are two notable exceptions– which come with built in reasons for why they should be chosen instead already– Falcon and War Machine.

3. Falcon or War Machine would make better movies. Both these characters are already in the Marvel Cinematic Universe from their supporting roles in Captain America and Iron Man franchises already established. Both come with quality actors attached who are familiar to the general audience and who were excellent in the roles (Anthony Mackie and Don Cheadle.)

In the comics, the character of Falcon is currently doing a turn as Captain America, donning the red white and blue and slinging the shield while Steve Rogers is aged to his natural age. Why not give him his own starring movie role? A flying, soldier character could certainly carry his own movie.

Even more than Falcon, however, I would like to see James Rhodes aka Warmachine given a chance to carry a movie. Cheadle has the acting chops to work in this kind of role, is highly respected so a movie that focuses on this established character from two movies (Ironman II and III, a different actor played Rhodes in the first installment) could be a huge hit?

The Ironman franchise has been the most successful of the solo films to date, so continuing in that segment of the universe even with the departure of Robert Downey Jr. would seem a logical choice.

Besides this, the movie could fit into the continuity easily as a pure continuation– who among us wouldn’t go out to see “Iron Man 4” starring Don Cheadle?

If neither of these movies are on the schedule by 2018, it goes without saying that 2019 or 2020 will likely be too late, and neither an Anthony Mackie as Falcon movie or Don Cheadle as Ironman/Warmachine will ever come to pass.

To conclude– Up to now, African American super heroes have been banished to supporting roles– Marvel has demonstrated they will put non-white male actors in strong roles, so long as they are the buddy/ side-kick role rather than the starring turn. I sincerely hope this trend doesn’t continue through the next series, but simultaneously want to see Falcon or Warmachine before a “Black Panther” movie.