There's no question that the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) have earned an abundance of critical and commercial acclaim and served as templates for great storytelling. However, a well-earned piece of criticism for Marvel films is its lack of inclusion surrounding more women-centric narratives. Perhaps attributing to his acknowledgment that the MCU is very testosterone-heavy, Kevin Feige has pledged to have more female superheroes into the MCU in a recent interview with ScreenRant.
"Eventually I think we’re going to reach a time where it’s not just… listen, it would be amazing to see all of our female characters the way we have seen most, never all male, but primarily male," Feige said. "I think we’re getting to the point soon where we have so many great female characters that those are just our heroes as opposed to when are they all female, all male. It’s just the Marvel heroes, more than half of which will be women."
Marvel is already taking the first steps towards the inclusion of more women-centric stories, as 2019 will usher in the arrival of Captain Marvel, the MCU's first female-fronted comic book film. Also, having a leading lady like Brie Larson, who garnered praise for calling for more women and film critics of color in an industry that is predominantly white, imbues Captain Marvel with political undertones. In addition to that, Marvel is going forward with a Black Widow solo film. However, if Kevin Feige and the powers that be at Marvel want to make a statement, they would incorporate more narratives centered around superheroes who are dark-skinned black women. The inclusion of more leading superheroes that are dark-skinned would rectify any issues that the MCU is mostly white and male-centric.
Marvel already has an opportunity to showcase more dark-skinned women in the MCU with the Dora Milaje, the Wakandan warriors of Black Panther who were unequivocally the best part of the film and a rare showcase of dark-skinned black women occupying pivotal roles in a mainstream film. A solo movie centering on the Dora Miljae starring Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong'o and Angela Bassett, would breed many financial benefits for Marvel. Studies have shown that black women are not only essential trendsetters who influence mainstream culture but one of the largest consumers in the country. This was evident with Black Panther, which solidifies the fact that it would be unwise to underestimate the buying power of a marginalized demographic who haven't seen themselves positively represented onscreen nearly enough.
The inclusion of more dark-skinned women leading front and center in their Marvel stories would also address the issue of colorism that seems to go unaddressed in the film industry. In February, Tessa Thompson confirmed her hopes that an all women-centered MCU film starring her, Zoe Saldana, Brie Larson and Elizabeth Olsen would come to fruition. Both Tessa Thompson and Zoe Saldana have been tied to the debate around colorism around black women in Hollywood. Thomspon, who wowed us in films like Creed, Dear White People and her role as Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok, addressed colorism in a post on Twitter in July 2016.
Colorism in Hollywood is real. Privilege & merit can co-exist. One can work in a system & be wary of its trappings. pic.twitter.com/BxY3rp19Gc
— Tessa Thompson (@TessaThompson_x) July 22, 2016
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Saldana, on the other hand, garnered controversy for donning blackface for her casting as soul singer Nina Simone, a black woman who is comparatively darker skinned. Having a female-fronted MCU film where Thompson and Saldana are the only talented black actresses would only have Marvel buying into an old Hollywood idea that there's only one acceptable version of a black leading lady.
Amid Luke Cage breakout character Misty Knight, the Dora Milaje and newly minted comic book heroine Riri Williams, Marvel is sitting on a goldmine of dark-skinned leading ladies they could bring into the MCU. There's no better studio than Marvel to set a precedent that dark-skinned black actresses deserve the same opportunities as their light-skinned counterparts, as their merits and talent certainly warrant it.