So you’d think I’d be delighted at the notion of Jubilee showing up (wearing Jaime Chung’s face, perhaps?) in the latest X-men movie, right? You’d think I’d be furious that she got cut from the slate of future mutants, right? Wrong.
I gotta say, folks — this concept art left me decidedly underwhelmed. My whole reaction to the concept art was a blase “meh”. I’m actually really glad that my girl Jubes never showed up in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and here’s why.
This post contains spoilers of X-Men: Days of Future Past. Read on with care.
On the other side of the argument, some have celebrated Jordan’s casting, arguing that cross-racial casting of major superhero properties is the path of least resistance towards the goal of diverse superheroes. They argue that the road towards introducing superheroes of colour to the major publishing houses — DC and Marvel — is rife with red tape obstacles; the solution, therefore, is to encourage the seamless and casual transracialization of existing characters.
If the purpose of diversifying comics is to introduce minority fans to relatable superheroes, then while seeing an empowered brown body shoot lasers from her eyes is fun, seeing an empowered brown body shoot lasers from her eyes and who is also brown when she takes her cape off is far more relatable. Cross-racial casting doesn’t dismantle the pretenses of an industry that has since time immemorial treated race like window-dressing while it is also viewed as an unseemly subject best left out of comics. When comic writers and publishing houses are encouraged in the fantasy that writing a superhero is race-neutral until an artist puts blue pencil to paper (or a casting director taps a talented non-White actor to play the part) it perpetuates a system that has historically ignored, disrespected, and devalued Blackness and race in general.
If we want to inject diversity into comics, the solution isn’t to offer the appearance of race while ignoring its impact on the people behind the mask. The solution is to tackle race head-on.
Because variant covers make beaucoup bucks, both DC and Marvel have been releasing stupid amounts of universe-spanning themed variant covers recently. This past month was DC’s “Steampunk” month, featuring a bunch of covers that were seemingly drawn by artists who had to Wikipedia the word “steampunk” first.
Not to be out-done and consistent with the Disney/Marvel let’s-make-everything-cute parternship, Marvel decided to rechristen January as Animal Variant month. They’ve got some truly outstanding covers, but one of the best is for X-Men #10: it’s an adorable (if a little NSFW-ly meta to the cynical guttermind) re-imagining of the all-female X-men team as cute and bad-ass kitty-cats.
But, I gotta ask: why do all the Asian characters — Jubilee (on the far right), Psylocke (the purple one to the left of Storm), and Jubilee’s baby (the kitten) — have the markings of Siamese cats? Does Storm have to be a Black cat?
I mean, come on, cats don’t have races. Rogue is a Persian angora. Kitty Pryde Rachel Grey is an orange tabby. They get to be fun animal colours. What — cats are default White unless they’re Black or Siamese? Come on, Marvel. What the heck?
Check out all the animal variants — many of which are not racially questionable — here via Wired.
As of April 2013, The Avengers had grossed more than $600 million dollars in the US, a box office performance that has nearly tripled its (already bloated) production budget. It would be fair to say that if you’re a Hollywood movie producer, The Avengers makes you very, very, very happy.In fact, you’re hoping to make as many Avengers franchises as you possibly can.
Against this backdrop of undeniable success, it seems major Hollywood production companies are hoping to do just that. For the last few months, the Internet has been a-buzz with casting rumours for Man of Steel 2: first with news that Ben Affleck was being tapped to play an aging Batman, and last week with the announcement that virtually unknown actress Gal Gadot (of Fast and Furious franchise fame) was assuming the mantle of Wonder Woman. Although fans have long clamoured for a live-action Justice League adaptation, the fact that all three members of the heralded DC Trinity will be making an appearance in Man of Steel 2 — a movie that we all expected would be just another Superman solo vehicle — is clear indication that WB/DC has drawn inspiration from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and is looking to fast-track the Justice League movie by rapidly introducing other characters to the silver screen. Fans have since speculated that while Gadot might make a minimal cameo in Man of Steel 2, it’s likely that she will subsequently headline her own Wonder Woman movie that would further stoke the fires for a full Justice League film.