Does Marvel Really
Have A Diversity Problem?
By Ryan Scott
Modern Times Magazine
May 6, 2016 — Greetings, movie lovers! Did you miss the major news and headlines from this week in film, because there was a LOT going on? Don’t you worry, because we’ve got you covered with the newest edition of the Movie News Mixtape. Let’s dig in, shall we?
This week, Marvel Studios is releasing its 13th film, Captain America: Civil War, and it is already on pace to demolish the box office and has a very good shot at being the highest grossing film of 2016. However, beneath the excitement, the studio has recently been fighting some negative PR in regards to the issue of diversity. Namely, this has revolved around the casting of Tilda Swinton, a white actress, in the upcoming Doctor Strange film in the role of The Ancient One, a role that has historically been an Asian male.
Diversity has been a massive issue in Hollywood, especially when it comes to Asian actors being able to land major roles. So naturally, Marvel got some real heat for what people are calling whitewashing. The studio, of course, did its best to get in front of things by issuing a statement that just seemed to further anger the masses.
“Marvel has a very strong record of diversity in its casting of films and regularly departs from stereotypes and source material to bring its MCU to life. The Ancient One is a title that is not exclusively held by any one character, but rather a moniker passed down through time, and in this particular film the embodiment is Celtic. We are very proud to have the enormously talented Tilda Swinton portray this unique and complex character alongside our richly diverse cast.”
So, yes, ultimately the role went to a white actor. However, the first part of Marvel’s statement is perhaps being glossed over, because the studio really has been pushing for diversity in ways that are sort of getting swept under the rug. For one, The Ancient One has historically been a man, and the creative team decided to give the role to a woman. That in itself is a form of diversity and was a fairly bold decision.
Within the same film, the role of Baron Mordo went to Chiwetel Ejiofor, a black actor, when the character was not historically black. Marvel has also heavily featured Black Widow, a strong female superhero in its films, even though she has not yet received a solo film. Not to mention that Black Panther is making his debut in Captain America: Civil War, the first prominently featured black superhero in the modern era (not counting Wesley Snipe’s Blade and Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, who is more of a supporting character in the MCU) who will be getting his own solo film in 2018.
Diversity is a much larger issue all throughout the entertainment industry and, unfortunately, Marvel has sort of become the scapegoat for the issue. However Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson recently shared a tweet that points out that the issue is not lost on him.
Raw anger/hurt from Asian-Americans over Hollywood whitewashing, stereotyping & erasure of Asians in cInema.— Scott Derrickson (@scottderrickson) May 4, 2016
I am listening and learning.
Yes, diversity needs to be addressed, but Marvel is trying and perhaps berating them for a single casting choice that was in a way diverse isn’t the best way to effect change.
Trailer Tracker: Blake Lively Is Fighting Sharks, Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell are Bad Moms
The Shallows - Blake Lively will be ushering in everyone’s fear of sharks again this summer with her new thriller The Shallows, which is loosely based on true events in which a surfer is attacked by a shark and is then stranded on a small rock just far enough away from shore to ensure the runtime of a feature length movie. Look for it on June 29.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows - It feels like Paramount has released some sort of new footage or trailer for the new Ninja Turtles movie every week for what feels like forever, but it recently dropped the third full-length trailer, which will presumably be the last one before the film drops on June 3. Though it largely recycles footage, we do get some more character stuff out of this one.
Bad Moms - The writers of The Hangover have decided to turn their attention to a raunchy comedy featuring some Hollywood ladies like Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell with Bad Moms. The title very adequately describes the film, at least based on what we see in the trailer. If you liked The Hangover, this definitely looks like it will be up your alley. Look for it in theaters on July 29.
Independence Day: Resurgence - Lastly, 20th Century Fox put out a piece of viral marketing for the upcoming
Things We Learned: Space Jam 2 Is Really Real and Future DC Movies May Be In Trouble
Space Jam 2 - After a whole lot of speculation, it was confirmed recently that Warner Bros. is indeed moving ahead with a Space Jam sequel that looks like it will star LeBron James in the lead. Star Trek: Beyond director Justin Lin is currently in talks to helm the project but no release date has been firmed up.
Young Han Solo - After more than 2,500 auditions, Star Wars fans can now look to Hail Caesar! star Alden Ehrenreich, because according to THR, he is in final negotiations to play the lead in the upcoming untitled Young Han Solo movie for Disney. Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street) are directing the film.
Slender Man Movie - Screen Gems and Mythology Entertainment have indeed, as rumors suggested, signed on to produce a movie about Slender Man, the famously terrifying horror meme that has spawned a ton of mythology, controversy, video games and a very popular web series called Marble Hornets.
Kong Lawsuit - Universal is about to bring King Kong back to the big screen next year with Kong: Skull Island, but not all is sunshine, rainbows and monsters, as the studio has been hit with a lawsuit. Joe DeVito claims he created an entire Skull Island universe with the blessing of the original creator’s family. DeVito is claiming that the producers stole all of his ideas from pitch meetings for other projects.
Morrissey Movie - Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello has closed a deal with the blessing of Morrissey himself to produce and star in a film about The Smiths. The film will focus on an incident where a man held the staff of a radio station at gunpoint and demanded that the DJ, who Manganiello will portray, play nothing but The Smiths tracks. Morrissey has given the production permission to use The Smiths’ catalog of songs for the film.
Power Rangers - Entertainment Weekly gave Power Rangers fans yet another tease of what’s to come in the new live action adaptation as it tweeted out a photo of the new costumes that the film’s heroes will be wearing. Instead of spandex, the suits took more of the Iron Man route. Reactions have been mixed from fans thus far.
New Mutants Movie - Director Josh Boone has teased the lineup for the upcoming New Humans movie at Fox via an Instagram post. The lineup consists of Mirage, Magik, Cannonball, Sunspot and Wolfsbane. No word yet on a release date for the project.
The Flash Director Is Gone - Director Seth Grahame-Smith has exited Warner Bros.' upcoming The Flash movie citing “creative differences” as the reason for the departure.
This comes after Batman V Superman was met with very poor critical reception and was less than what the studio was hoping in terms of box office. Furthermore, rumors are circling that BvS director Zack Snyder is currently at odds with the studio about his vision for Justice League, which is currently filming and had started production prior to the BvS response was evident.
Box Office Review/Preview and Predictions
Disney simply cannot be stopped. The Jungle Book dominated for a third straight week atop the box office last weekend, bringing in $43 million and besting Keanu, Mother’s Day and Ratchet & Clank. This week, Disney will once again be claiming the box office throne as Captain America: Civil War kicks off the summer box office season and will be looking at $170 million or more over the weekend. No other studio was brave enough to release anything against it.
Weekend Box Office Predictions
- Captain America: Civil War
- The Jungle Book
- Huntsman: Winter’s War
- Mother’s Day
That’s it for this week, movie lovers. Be sure to come back next week for all of the Hollywood news you need, want and didn’t know you needed.
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