Actor Anthony Mackie Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first Black Captain America has made an imperative point about the studio’s lack of representation
In the recent issue of Variety‘s Actors on Actors, Anthony Mackie pointed out Marvel Studios’ need to add more diversity to its universe. Mackie has worked on seven Marvel movies playing the Falcon. At the end of Infinity Saga, Captain America passed on the shield to him.
Meaning, the next Captain America is going to be Black. His story along with fellow actor Sebastian Stan will continue in upcoming Disney Plus series The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
Watch: Variety Actor on Actor – Anthony Mackie and Daveed Diggs
In a discussion with Snowpiercer’s lead Daveed Diggs, Mackie spoke about the Black Lives Matter movement. He noted that both of them are leads for their shows that give them the power to ask important questions. He said,
It really bothered me that I’ve done seven Marvel movies where every producer, every director, every stunt person, every costume designer, every PA, every single person has been white.”
Marvel’s Lack of Diversity
Mackie’s observation doesn’t come as a surprise. While MCU Phase 4 is the most diverse movie phase yet. Kickstarting with much-awaited Black Widow solo movie. The movie is directed by Cate Shortland and written by Jac Schaeffer, making it an all-female enterprise. We’ll get an almost all Asian Shang Chi, the first Asian superhero.
Also, The Eternals have Chinese director Chloé Zhao at the helm with a diverse ensemble cast of superheroes. There is also Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love And Thunder with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) as first female Thor.
And then there is the sequel to Marvel’s first female superhero flick Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel and its all-Black cast and crew, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther.
Watch: Marvel Promises To Get More Diverse
But this doesn’t mean the studio was always as inclusive. The first three phases of the MCU severally lacked diversity and representation. For the longest of time, Samuel Jackson singlehandedly bore the burden of representation of people of colour.
Similarly, War Machine aka Rhodey who first appeared in Iron Man movie played by Terrance Howard and was later replaced by Don Cheadle. Doesn’t exactly serve as the right example for diversity.
Further, Marvel faced the real backlash for meta-morphing Tilda Swinton’s character The Ancient One in the 2016 Doctor Strange movie. The original mystical character in the comic is a wise old Asian Man. Eyebrows were raised over ‘whitewashing’ ethnic characters for MCU.
Game-Changers – Black Panther and Captain Marvel
Come 2018, Black Panther debut on the big screen with Chadwick Boseman reprising the role from Captain America: Civil War. It changed more lives (in front of the camera and behind it) than the entire three MCU phases combined. Ironically, Samuel Jackson’s Nick Fury couldn’t be a part of the all-Black cast. Something which he later joked about!
An all-Black cast and crew were unheard of till then.
Further, the movie didn’t only serve as T’Challa’s origin story but also became a social commentary on racial discrimination. Its result?
As a first for superhero genre Black Panther bagged Best Picture Oscar nomination, a feat that even The Dark Knight didn’t manage.
And as amiable as the feat sounds closer to home there’s a different point of view. Hiring an all-Black cast and crew can also be seen as negligence at its best on the studio’s part.
As Mackie explained, “I’m like, that’s more racist than anything else. Because if you only can hire the Black people for the Black movie… are you saying they’re not good enough when you have a mostly white cast?”
Pushing The Envelope Within the MCU
Mackie argues an imperative point and the problem doesn’t start and end with one studio. Sidelining the Black characters or restricting them to supporting cast is a common practice in the movie business.
When the world is shaking up in the new decade, Marvel Studios has undoubtedly pulled its bootstraps to be more diverse.
Marvel Comic Universe has no dearth of representation and diversity. Some of the most notable characters of the comic books are Black like Nick Fury, Blade, Miles Morales, Storm, Doctor Voodoo are just to name a few. Marvel comic even have an array of Hindu God Characters! Thor once battled Shiva in Nirvana a pocket dimension, to bring Odin and Asgardians back to life! Addressing the ensemble of diverse superheroes would be akin to home-coming for the MCU.
Marvel Phase 4 looks like a well thought out catalogue of movies. As Kevin Feige commented on the success of Black Panther. “You look at that film and the experience of the film… it was incredible. That movie, would not have been what it was if everyone sitting around the table looked like me or you.”
And if this approach further unfolds in the MCU; a remarkable difference can be brought to its lack of representation. As Mackie puts it “It starts to build a new generation of people who can put something on their résumé to get them other jobs.”
And wouldn’t it be the most remarkable way superheroes can change the world!
All hail Anthony Mackie, Marvel’s first Black Captain America…