Marvel Comics is Doubling Down on Diversity

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By Shanna Bowie

Even though I’m not above criticizing one of my favorite franchises for its shortcomings, I’m also not so petty that I won’t give credit where it’s due. Over the summer Marvel comics engaged in a complete overhaul of its universe with the Secret Wars story arc. The main storyline follows Dr. Doom, his allies and detractors as they try to figure out what happened after the collapse of the two Marvel universes. There have been a myriad of strong titles to come out of this event (believe me when I tell you that my wallet has suffered) and some of the highlights have been A-Force, an all-female Avengers team, Infinity Gauntlet, fronted by a young Black girl named Anwin Bakian and Secret Wars 2099, which features two women of color as Black Widow and Captain America.

And lest this seem like some sort of stunt, Marvel continues to double down on diversity with the announcement of their post-Secret Wars titles. In the All-New All-Different Marvel, there are more than 10 female lead titles, one of which features a pregnant superhero (I have no idea what’s going to happen but I’m excited). With the various superhero team-up titles, all of them prominently feature heroes of color like Miles Morales’ Spiderman and Monica Rambeau. Many of the popular female led titles such as Spider Gwen, Ms. Marvel and Thor are all continuing. As more announcements of new series continue to roll out, Marvel’s commitment to diversifying is evident. Recent announcements include November’s release of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur whose star is a precocious, bespectacled African-American little girl with afro-puffs and a pet dinosaur. Also Red Wolf, a Native American character coming out of the Secret Wars’ 1872 book will be getting a solo title in December.

Beyond gushing over what Marvel is doing, let’s talk about what this means. One of the two giants in the comic book industry is not saying that it is committed to diversity but rather diving head first into it. One thing I really give credit to Marvel for is embracing its history and radicalizing it. They are taking characters and racebending and genderbending them without ignoring the ramifications of it. One of the great things about the female Thor is that while she still kicks butt, the other characters openly discuss and address her gender. In the All-New Captain America, Sam Wilson has to defend his right as a Black man to be Captain America. It’s a subversive way to openly address the detractors who complain about Marvel opening up their universe to fully include women and people of color at the forefront. At this point, I’m kind of tithing to Marvel and I admit; I’m a fan. There’s lots of diversity in the smaller comic houses and I will always recommend them to first time buyers but having one of the majors take a running leap towards representing something beyond the standard superhero is affirming. Marvel recognizes that we are here and we want to see ourselves reflected back on the page. And that is empowering.

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That Pig Over There

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By Shanna Bowie

 The Muppets new show on ABC has picked a winning marketing campaign to draw in viewers. Capitalizing on the popularity of shows like Real Housewives and Love and Hip Hop as well as social media’s apparent love of all things nostalgic, the Muppets have let two important details slip about their new “reality” show about the Muppets lives. At the beginning of the summer, we found out that Miss Piggy and Kermit had ended their decades long relationship. Then a few weeks ago, Kermit was “spotted” with a new lover, Denise, the pig. And the internet lost its mind.

In today’s social media landscape you need two things to succeed; drama and memes. This story has both. First, you have the end of marriage that most people in their 20s and 30s (those folks that advertisers love) associate with their childhoods. It’s like finding out your mom and dad are getting a divorce. Then you add dad’s new girlfriend into the mix. And let’s be real, dad’s new girlfriend is a younger, sleeker version of mom. The streets were hot and the memes were rolling!

It’s a great strategy because in today’s reality television landscape, this is what viewers eat up. We come to watch the Real Housewives of Whereever toss glasses of wine in each other’s faces and the D-list stars of Love & Hip Hop pull out each other’s weave, so in adding that element of personal drama, this show just went from a Muppet-style version of The Office to which pig is gonna get slapped first. It was also interesting to note that while most of these rivalries tend to see fans falling on either woman’s side, many fans denounced mild-mannered Kermit as a womanizer and Black Twitter called out his seeming preference for pigs over other frogs, jokingly likening it to Black men who only date White women. And although Denise has been set up as the stereotypical man-stealing golddigger (one gif shows her pointedly looking at the camera/Kermit and biting her pen), she’s nothing but polite and sweet on her Twitter (yes she has a Twitter account). ABC has created the perfect mash-up of controversy for what was originally seen as an innocuous reboot of the Muppets and the streets will be watching, if for nothing more than to see that TPOT get hers.

 

The Muppets premiered Sept 22nd on ABC.

Getting the Story Straight

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By Shanna Bowie

Straight Outta Compton is in theaters and it’s doing amazing. It’s the unexpected hit of the summer. The film, focused on the coming together and rise of the hip hop group N.W.A. (Niggas With Attitude) is receiving accolades for its box office numbers in a climate where minorities are often told our stories won’t win in theaters. And while it’s important to celebrate films like this for their accomplishments, the film also has its detractors, mainly the women who the film whom the film has strategically cut from the film; the women who were domestically abused by one of the groups founders Dr. Dre.  These women and their supporters have been vocal about the abuses of Dr. Dre so I won’t presume to speak over their voices. And Dr. Dre himself after pressure from these women, did apologize for his transgressions. But after seeing the film, what I was struck by was the opportunity Dr. Dre and Ice Cube had to talk about the connection between police brutality and hyper masculinity and how they let that go by in order to save face.

I love hip-hop. I grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. during Biggie Smalls’ rise and tragic fall. I witnessed the Takeover and the Ether. And my mom probably taught me Rapper’s Delight in the womb. But that doesn’t mean hip-hop is what most black women would consider a safe space. Often hip hop can be a space where Black folks are working out their shit on a very public stage. What made groups like N.W.A. iconic was that they “kept it real” and told what was happening on their streets. The film does a good job in showing that in terms of how it related to over-policing in Los Angeles but sanitized the high-level of misogyny in their music. Much of that misogyny is borne out of the same place. The gangsta persona is a response to knowing you can be slammed onto the hood of a cop car on a whim. The smack my bitch façade is a response to being degraded in front of her. Where Straight Outta Compton failed black women was that in trying to hold up these men as idols, they erased how their very real shortcomings derived from the same place as their iconic music.

Too often women find that they are devalued, abused or erased in hip-hop but we still dance to the music, go up for the artists, and support this music and the men who perpetuate these ideals. We’re the women who don’t want to call the police on our abusive Black men because they’ve already spent their lives persecuted by authorities. But until we speak up about how these problems are interconnected they won’t be resolved. I know Compton was not meant to be a catch all for all of these issues but it was poised at a unique place to address them in an organic way and instead they chose to push a sanitized narrative, which is surprising for the men who once knew “nothin’ in life but to be legit”.

Problematizing Our Faves

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BY Shanna Bowie

In this day and age, we know so much about our celebrities. Their accessibility is what makes them both appealing and easy fodder for ridicule. One of the biggest problems with our celebrity saturated culture is that it becomes hard to divorce the person from the character they play or the music they make. So what do you do when Robert Downey Jr. says something that would make even Tony Stark cringe?

The rise of the problematic fave means navigating how to be a critical fan in a time when it’s more likely that your fave will be problematic. And there’s levels to this ish. Recently, Amy Poehler came under fire because the show she executive produces, Difficult People, made a joke about R. Kelly peeing on Blue Ivy Carter. For some this was just the tip of the side-eye since she’s been called out for being problematic in the past. But for her fans it feels like there’s a choice to make. Do you defend Amy Poehler’s right to make a joke, no matter how insensitive, at the expense of a toddler or do you call out your fave for being in the wrong?

This is the thing, I never want to be an uncritical fan. I can rock with a lot but I never want my love as a fan to be based on whether or not the celebrity that I love (or show or book or author) can say or do anything and I’ll still love them regardless. The truth is that everyone has a line and you can like, love or fan out for someone but also step away or call them out if they cross that line. It doesn’t make you “too sensitive” or “too PC” if you can’t help but look at Anthony Mackie sideways after that “get daddy a sandwich” crack or if you vowed never to buy another John Mayer CD after he talked about having a racist dick. And you can continue to be a fan of someone who is problematic. I think part of being a true fan is acknowledging that your fave is a person, they won’t always be perfect and saying I’m still a fan but this is a place where I think you can do better rather than turning a blind eye to your fave’s shortcomings.

It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon to hate or love a celebrity but when you love them it’s harder to jump off and look critically at what they’re doing. Maybe you’re someone who always wants to keep the work separate from the person, or maybe you have a list of non-negotiables that will make you walk away such as pedophilia and rape (guess who I’m referring to there. No really guess there’s a ton of names). Maybe you don’t want to give up on Joss Whedon because his feminism is one-dimensional or maybe you still have faith that Katy Perry won’t appropriate a new culture in her next video (spoiler alert: she probably already has). Either way, being a fan means navigating where your line is and sometimes it means taking a step back when others have hit their line and letting them vent because we’re all learning and unlearning things and we’re all pretty problematic.

 

Note: Some of these examples were some of my own problematic faves. The ones who weren’t are horrible and I can’t believe you’re a fan of that guy. 😉

Control

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By Shanna Bowie

“Once there was a man who hated, feared, and loved his daughter’s body so much that he needed to lock it up, control it or destroy it.”

– Jacob Clifton

The summer finale of Pretty Little Liars aired last week week and fans are pretty up in arms about the A reveal for a variety of reasons (the psychotic transgender twist, all the questions that weren’t answered and all the A’s that could have been). After the Batgirl comic received a similar backlash over a storyline fans saw as transphobic, I cringed to see PLL headed in the same direction but one of my favorite writers, Jacob Clifton, helped me put this into perspective. At the heart of it, Pretty Little Liars has been a show about five girls whose friendship survives in spite of a world that tells them their friendship shouldn’t exist; that they should compete and fight each other rather than support each other. And in that way A was both a reflection of that world and inextricably caught up in those same forces.

What makes Charles/CeCe’s story so tragic but also so very relatable is that every woman has had to navigate those same forces. We discover during the finale that Charles ended up in the Radley sanitarium not because he was a danger to Ali as we thought but because of his gender non-conformity and its danger to the image his father wanted to portray. After Charles is finally able to realize his dream of becoming CeCe, she continues to struggle with isolation from her family and after dealing with her father’s rejection, her mother’s lies and a life in a psych ward, CeCe plays out her revenge on these girls in whom she sees the same qualities. As Clifton writes:

That shame and loneliness are a self-reinforcing feedback loop that only creates more shame and more loneliness, turning any attempt at a roman à clef into a picaresque. And that the system is designed for that purpose: To keep us separate, vulnerable, afraid and ashamed, because if we ever started talking to each other about it we would start a fucking riot.

And even as the finale ends with a jump five years into the future, we see the Liars caught in that same loop they thought they’d escaped. I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that so many of this summer’s shows with strong female leads have similar themes. In Humans and UnReal, which I’ve previously discussed, we’ve seen artificial intelligence as a metaphor for bodily control and also how women play out societal misogyny on each other. So much of what can make Pretty Little Liars frustrating (the never-ending parade of men dating these teen girls, the feeling like we’re repeating the same patterns, the specter of menace that doesn’t always payoff) is also what makes the overall point of this show.

There are always those guys that hover and seek to control and take advantage. We do repeat those patterns again and again and the sense of menace does follow us (and occasionally make good on its promise). While the A reveal may have been clichéd or “problematic” it was also always the way this story was headed.

 

*All quotes used with permission. For more information of author, recapper Jacob Clifton, please check out jacobclifton.com

 

When Women Collaborate

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By Shanna Bowie

Last Saturday marked the anniversary of the release of Beyonce and Nicki Minaj’s first collaboration “Flawless (Remix)”. I remember the day that single dropped. It wasn’t quite the fanfare of Beyonce’s self-titled album but Twitter was still atwitter and the carefree Black girls were out en masse. We knew we were flawless and when the video of Beyonce and Nicki performing in Paris came out, the Beyhive and the Barbs lost it.

In the past few years we’ve seen some amazing female collaborations. Ava DuVernay directed a pivotal episode of Scandal which marked the first time a Black female director was directing a Black female lead in a show created by a Black woman. It was also the introduction of Khandi Alexander as Maya Pope, Olivia’s mom who is also a spy and terrorist. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin teamed up to executive produce Grace & Frankie, which has become a hit on Netflix and netted Tomlin an Emmy nomination for Best Lead Actress. They also stood together and called out unfair pay in Hollywood when they found out the male leads on the show were being paid more than them. The release of Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” video caught a lot of flack for it’s use of violence, but few talked about the fact that Rihanna directed the video and that she tapped a virtually unknown visual artist named Sanam whose work she saw on Instagram. And this fall, the female showrunners of Agent Carter will make their comic debut writing the All-New Captain Marvel.

The fact is that when women collaborate, we get greatness but for some reason women are largely depicted as catty and competitive. And that’s not to say that it doesn’t exist. Not all women should or could hold hands and sing kumbaya but I want to celebrate the great female collaborations; the Feeling Myself’s and the Pretty Deadly’s and the A-Force’s. It could be that 20 years later we’ve truly reached the era of girl power the Spice Girls foretold.

In Defense of the Bitch

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by Shanna Bowie

I just spent the day watching Lifetime’s UnReal, which is the amazing summer show no one is watching and all I have to say is “hooray for the bitches!” The first episode opens on Constance Zimmer’s Quinn, the show’s quintessential bitch. She is easily identified by her carefully coiffed bob and fitted blazer. Quinn is the manipulative executive producer of a Bachelor-style reality show that offers her producers cash bonuses for crying catfights, and 911 calls.  Her right hand girl is Rachel; a producer who excels at manipulating the contestants but unlike Quinn has a conscience. But throughout the course of the show, UnReal shows us that everyone can be a manipulative bitch and even the manipulative bitches have feelings.

We watch Quinn show her vulnerability as she strives to have a relationship and family and we see her lash out against other women when she doesn’t get those things. Rachel constantly struggles with doing her job, which she hates, to make money while talking about wanting to throw it all away and help African AIDS babies (yes, they say that and somehow it works). At one point, even the sympathetic on-set psychologist uses the women’s distress as a way to advocate for her own potential spin-off show. Obviously, each of the women contestants has an agenda for being there, while the producers try to maneuver them into “water cooler worthy” moments. And while the female characters perpetrate many of the machinations, the men also take their turns being manipulative bitches. After orchestrating a racially motivated blow up between two contestants, a black, gay producer is called an Uncle Tom and we see him question his own morality. The suitor of the show literally whores himself out to get investors for his development project. No one on this show is immune from the catty manipulations because we’ve created a society where getting ahead is the name of the game.

This is what makes UnReal so very real. If this show were mainly about men it wold be about the cutthroat, ruthless world of business but because the cast is mainly female, it’s about bitches. And I say embrace that. These are the kind of bitches I want to see on my screen because these are the kind of bitches that exist. Not just the childless, bob-haired, maneaters that Hollywood is so fond of giving us. These bitches have agendas or stumble into someone else’s. They are occasionally opportunistic and sometimes calculated. They want families. They want careers. They are women of color. They are not gendered. They cry. They MASTURBATE! (I actually put up praise hands when I saw Rachel and her vibrator going for the gold). UnReal has one more episode left to the season and I can’t wait to see where all these bitches end up.

(Wo)Man in the Machine

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BY SHANNA BOWIE

Isn’t it strange, to create something that hates you? – Ava, Ex Machina

This summer artificial intelligence is on our screens in a big way. Ex Machina the directorial debut film from Alex Garland features a beautiful, humanoid robot Ava played by Alicia Vikander whose capacity for intelligence is being tested by a naïve programmer Caleb, at the behest of her megalomaniacal creator, Nathan. The film cleverly balances performances from Oscar Isaac as the creepy mastermind of the entire experiment and Alicia Vikander who as Ava tows the line between sympathetic and manipulative in her own right but overall the film asks two questions: 1. Is Ava capable of intelligence and feeling; and, 2. If she is, what right does anyone have to control her? When you add to the mix that Ava is designed as a female robot, Ava’s humanity and personal autonomy takes on deeper meaning. Ava finds herself, like so many of the failed experiments before her, beholden to her creator but also struggling to break free of him. She uses Caleb’s attraction to her to manipulate her way to freedom and by the end we see Ava’s full agency as she literally peels away the discarded pieces of her predecessors to form a new, whole human body before stepping into the light and starting her new life.

Visually, Garland gives the audience a lot to digest. The pieces of the other (all female) robots Nathan has built are all hidden away in closets like discarded marionettes. The dark, underground, claustrophobic environment Ava is kept in seen through the cracked glass she’s beaten again in an attempt to gain her freedom. Although Ex Machina is tightly scripted and visually arresting, it does fall somewhat short of explicitly addressing Nathan’s proclivity for female robots and how that interacts with his need for control over everything in his environment. The film leaves a lot to audience interpretation. It grasps at these concepts without fully realizing them. In contrast, Humans the newest summer series on AMC, takes these concepts and fully runs with them.

Humans is set in a not so distant future where intelligent humanoid robots called Synths have become a part of every day life. It focuses on Anita, a Synth who has consciousness and feeling until she is captured by Synth dealers and reprogrammed and sold to an unsuspecting family as their domestic. The series has just hit its halfway mark and so far Anita has dealt with the teenage son of the house trying to cop a feel from her as she recharged, and the father activating the “adult options” when he becomes fed up with his wife’s secretive behavior. Beyond Anita there’s Niska, another fully sentient Synth who is forced to work in a brothel. Niska snaps when a customer asks her to acts like a little girl and simulate rape. We also see that while some Synths are seen as no more than computers or toasters, they are still harassed and even beaten by humans. The show continues to ask (and answer) the questions that Ex Machina poses. Through Anita, Niska and other Synths, we see humans acting out some of the worse parts of themselves because this society has allowed them to do so by creating a class of “people” that aren’t human. It’s telling that the violence that is acted on female Synths is still largely sexualized and Niska drives home this point to the brothel madam when she tells her “everything [the men] do to us, they want to do to you”. With many parallels to both gender and race, Humans is tackling what it means to live on both sides of a society where people have the freedom to treat another group of people as lesser than without impunity. Aptly, there is one character who is seen as a zealot by his peers because he recognizes the danger of the position humans have cornered themselves into by creating and abusing the very beings they’ve let into their lives. Niska represents that vengeful spirit fighting for control of her own body in a society she doesn’t trust while Anita is caught between her programming that moves her to help the family she works for while still rebelling in the small ways she can against them.

Similar to the dystopian future phenomena in YA literature, this exploration of artificial intelligence as framed through the lens of female bodies becomes a larger allegory for what women today are fighting for. We are pushing back against a society that tries to force us to nurture its desires at the expense of being our full, sentient selves. Furthermore, these stories shine a stark light on a society that defines its humanity by how well it is able to control those it considers to be lesser.

Kelly Sue DeConnick “Got Woke” and More White Feminists Should Follow

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BY SHANNA BOWIE

In a week where Serena Williams was called manly for winning her 21st Wimbledon championship and Amandla Stenberg was called a bully for pointing out Kylie Jenner’s cultural appropriation, it makes me wonder where are the White feminists when it the time comes to defend women of color and society’s double standards? The answer is: the majority of them do not care. This is why Kelly Sue DeConnick, writer of Pretty Deadly, Bitch Planet and Captain Marvel has become one of my personal icons. In a sea of white feminism, she’s an island of intersectionality.

We can’t go any further without talking about Bitch Planet. Bitch Planet is DeConnick’s latest project distributed through Image Comics, which tells the story of a dystopian future where non-compliant women are sent to a prison planet colloquially called Bitch Planet. From the first issue, DeConnick subverts the readers’ ideas of where this story is going. Initially, the story seems to be about Marian, a suburban housewife who clashes with her husband and is sent away for being non-compliant. But by the end of the issue, a different protagonist emerges, a strong, capable, naptural Black woman named Kam, who we are learning, has her own reasons for coming to Bitch Planet. Are you hooked yet?

That bait and switch in and of itself is masterful in a comics world where so much focus is placed on strong (white) female characters, but when you have a creator like DeConnick, she adds touches that ground this book in a deeper feminist praxis. Each issue ends with an essay penned by a feminist writer including popular women of color feminists like Danielle Henderson and Mikki Kendall. DeConnick is purposefully centering women of color but particularly Black women in this conversation about what it means to be a non-compliant woman in our society; what does it mean when the very body you’re born in is unacceptable by society’s standards? Coming from a woman that admits her early work was basically “Gloria Steinheim fan-fiction”, this is an important and deliberate act of defiance.

DeConnick is creating in a climate where women are navigating their various identities and as a white woman choosing to engage in a conversation about these intersecting oppressions she is the definition of non-compliant. She talks about her writing coming from a place that is “wildly uncomfortable and terribly terrifying” and how “that is the space you should occupy as an artist”. And by doing the real work of examining her own privilege she’s able to create work that comes from a deeper place and that’s why it resonates with people. It’s why despite having only four issues out, I’ve seen more non-compliant tattoos and patches and artwork than I have for many other fandoms (seriously, check out Tumblr, Twitter and Etsy). Kelly Sue DeConnick is at the forefront of ushering in a new wave of feminism that pushes white, middle class women to examine their privilege how it impacts their feminist ideas. I hope more people join her.

Best Laid Plans: Black Women in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

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BY SHANNA BOWIE

Disclaimer: Since I was asked to write about pop culture from a feminist perspective, I want to make a few things clear. First, as a Black woman, my feminism stems from a place of intersectionality and centering Black women in discussions of feminism. If you’re looking for your hundredth “Why Doesn’t Black Widow Have A Solo Film?” article, you won’t find it here. Secondly, I am a professional fangirl. I don’t write about stuff I don’t like and if I critique something, it’s because I genuinely love it and I want it to be even better. I’m probably not going to call for a boycott of Doctor Who because Moffatt sucks (even though he does) but I will call something I love problematic if it is. In fact, that’s just what I’m about to do.

 

A recent back and forth on Facebook caused me to do some deeper thinking about representation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The MCU has been touted for its inclusion and diversity since it began. The MCU is based largely on the Marvel comics Ultimate universe reboot which started with the introduction of Miles Morales by Brian Michael Bendis. Subsequently, in 2008 the MCU started out with a concerted effort towards showcasing diversity and strong women. Samuel L. Jackson was cast as Nick Fury, whom the Ultimate’s artists had based their comic book version on. And Terrance Howard was featured as James Rhodes in the first Iron Man film.

Women were also given more prominent coverage like Pepper Potts, who was moved out of the mere love interest/sidekick role and molded into a businesswoman and equal partner for Tony Stark. As the MCU has grown, we’ve seen the addition of even more Black men; Idris Elba as Heimdall in Thor 1 & 2, Anthony Mackie as Falcon in Captain America: Winter Soldier, Avengers 2 and now the upcoming Ant-Man, and even a solo film for Black Panther slated to open in 2017. And women have been kicking ass and taking names all over the MCU; Agent Carter, Black Widow, Jane Foster, Lady Sif, more than half the cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Marvel’s universe has expanded beyond anyone’s wildest imagination but this did not spring forth without careful planning and thought. So my question is: with all this thoughtful planning, did anyone think to include Black women in the MCU?

Just to note again, I am a huge fan of the MCU (read my disclaimer again before you call me a hater) but this is a real question. It seems like there was a real concerted effort to include Black people (read: Black men) and strong women (read: strong White women) into the MCU and basically, everyone thought they’d covered their bases. Pats on the back, golf claps, we did it! We solved the diversity issue in comic book films! And now it feels like if you call out this glaring oversight, here come the excuses. “We just got Black Panther, why can’t you be patient?” “But Warner Bros. has all the mutants and the only good sistas in the comics are mutants” “You guys got Zoe Saldana in Guardians. Isn’t that something?”

The answers to your questions are: “I’m tired of waiting” “Misty Knight and Monica Rambeau” and “Zoe was an alien not a Black woman”. I’m not even saying that Marvel needs to add a Black woman in a solo film to prove their commitment to diversity, what I’m saying is, has anyone examined the fact that this was a carefully laid plan that started pre-2008, spans 12 films, 3 television shows, is filled with Easter eggs and references to characters seen and unseen and none of Marvel’s Black women characters have been included even tangentially. I don’t think it’s malicious, I think it shows how we are not even included in the thought process. I don’t think some exec stood in a meeting and vetoed every Black female character that was pitched, I think we honestly never crossed their minds.

Now I can sit here and tell you anecdotes about all the Black women I know who frequent shops or Comixology or what have you to prove our buying power and why we should be included, but honestly, that’s not why we should be included. We should be included because the invisibility of Black women in the MCU mirrors the invisibility we feel in the real world every day. Just like the Black women who marched for Trayvon Martin, we criticized and pushed with Black men for Black Panther. Just like the Black women who burned their bras in solidarity, we lobbied for Black Widow to have a prominent role in Avengers. So when can we finally speak truth to power and acknowledge that we have been erased in this universe, both on-screen and off. When can we ask to be seen? Or can we admit, this plan wasn’t made for us.