Welcome back to another edition of Mighty Marvel Monday!
After three weeks of beginning each MMM with links to articles writing about Jessica Jones, I am pleased to not do that in order to bring your attention to the Iron Fist conversation that’s happening right now.
So, last week Netflix and Marvel finally revealed Scott Buck as the showrunner for Iron Fist, the fourth solo Netflix Marvel series after Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. Also last week, Albert Ching wrote an op-ed about why he, an Asian-American who has argued passionately about Asian-American representation in comics, doesn’t want Iron Fist to be Asian-American. Naturally, there’s a resurgence of activity on #AAIronFist happening, and two days after Ching’s passionate op-edl, The Hollywood Reporter publishes this op-ed by Rebecca Sun on Why Marvel and Netflix Should Cast an Asian-American Iron Fist.
There’s a great discussion about Ching’s op-ed on Nerds of Color, and since they’ve been writing about this topic for a long time, I urge you to go visit. I know that may seem a bit like a cop out, but as someone who is white, I feel like my responsibility lies in laying out the arguments that I’m observing in the most supportive way I can–by directing your attention to the discussion happening amongst the people for whom this issue is paramount and abstaining from opining myself.
I will say that the arguments on both sides illustrate why it’s so important for under-represented groups to be better represented, because when you get one, that one is never going to satisfy everyone. Two isn’t going to satisfy everyone. I recently referred to–and disapproved of–discussions where fans used Jessica Jones to shut down Supergirl as irrelevant. Firstly, assuming that there is no audience overlap between the two is ridiculous, and secondly, we are so blessed that now, after all this time, we finally have two television shows with women heroes currently on the air. Supergirl and Jessica Jones represent opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to women superheroes. Now it’s time to fill in the gaps.
The other big controversy-sparking-topic-of-discussion last week for Marvel was the announcement of The Civil War: The Comics Event: The Sequel.
I may be the only person who liked the first Civil War event, for largely personal and political reasons that I go into here, but even as a fan of the first event I do find myself asking the same question that the Verge asked–does Civil War really need a sequel series? The article answers this question by pointing out that Civil War was hardly the best event Marvel ever had–which I would disagree highly about–but I am still concerned, even worried, by what this means.
One reason I’m worried is that this is Sam Wilson as Captain America against Tony Stark. There are a couple ways the actual conflict could go based on this premise, and both of them seem bad.
Bad Way #1: They don’t talk about race.
Colorblind comic book politics aren’t acceptable anymore. To ignore how what it means for Sam Wilson to stand against Tony Stark is different from what it meant when Steve Rogers stood against him is flatly unacceptable and irresponsible. Don’t do this, Marvel.
Bad Way #2: They do talk about race.
Let me clarify right away that I’m not saying Marvel shouldn’t talk about race. I just said why that’s unacceptable. Also, if this Civil War sequel is going to reflect the sociopolitical tensions of the day like the first Civil War did so brilliantly, it should address race in a way that the series 10 years ago didn’t. As a culture we talk about race in a way we didn’t 10 years ago. What I’m worried about is the ways that this conflict will talk about race and more importantly, who will be doing the talking. (Spoiler alert: It’ll be mostly white men.)
However, just as the question of an Asian-American Iron Fist inspires Asian-American people to debate what it means for representations of Asian-Americans if Iron Fist was to be Asian-American, a Civil War event that addresses race could encourage conversations that simply don’t exist without it, and that could very well prove to be a good thing.
I also think this issue is larger than comics twitter, and potentially worth all the bad feelings that event comics inspire. Even if the overwhelming majority of comics journalists and outlets think this event is horrendous and the worst event in Marvel history, someone who doesn’t read comics twitter or even know it exists might read it, because they’ve been reading G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel, and they might find something meaningful in it. They might see themselves and their fears and personal debates reflected in comics for the first time and think that maybe comics includes them too. It could happen, because that’s what happened to me with the first Civil War.
But aside from voicing that hope, until we know more, there’s not much to say.
I and the rest of the internet are catching up to the fact that back in November, Marvel started a YouTube series called Marvel 101. They are, as the article explains, 1-minute videos, though they don’t have any audio aside from a musical accompaniment. As a former college instructor, I don’t actually have a problem with this series, since it encourages new fans now that we no longer have backissue bins, and I like that Marvel has created it themselves. I also think that 1 minute is a pretty good length. A true elevator pitch is around 30 seconds, but this is still pretty concise. The first video was on Captain America:
This video made me realize that I have been denied the scaly Captain America costume in the MCU, and also that they are either officially retconning Bucky as Cap’s teenage sidekick and replacing it with the MCU version of Bucky as Cap’s best friend, or whoever made the video had only seen the MCU version, or maybe was told to make it match with the MCU. In any case, that part of the video definitely earned a raised eyebrow from me.
But there are more goodies to be found on the Marvel Entertainment YouTube channel. The Phase 2 Blu-Ray Box Set is full of secrets (that’s why Thor’s hair is so big), and I must share my appreciation for Marvel for posting the unboxing and many of the smaller featurettes online. This MTV article has a pretty good list of the goodies involved, and, naturally, the gifsets are making the rounds on tumblr.
One final thing! This past week was also the release of the first X-Men: Apocalypse trailer
Despite me swearing that I’m not an X-Men person I’ve seen every X-Men movie (with the exception of X3 and Wolverine: Origins), and I will probably go see this one too. After all, now that Marvel has basically written mutants out of existence in both the comics and the MCU, where are are you going to get them?
Marvel partnered with ESPN for IMPACT 25, highlighting 25 women in sports who made an impact in 2015.
And the fact that they went outside the usual pool of Marvel artists in commissioning these works by including more women and other underrepresented groups did not go unnoticed.
My favorites are probably Marguerite Sauvage’s and Annie Wu’s, but they’re all pretty amazing–and so are the women who inspired them.
Good job, Marvel.