Mighty Marvel Monday: Year In Review

It’s Monday, which means it’s another Mighty Marvel Monday, and it’s actually the LAST Mighty Marvel Monday of 2015, which makes me feel pretty nostalgic.

I started writing this column in January of 2015, and while there were definite highs and lows, I feel that by looking at Marvel news on a weekly basis, and synthesizing and processing that news to share with all of you, I’ve become not just a better writer, but a better fan, and maybe even a better person.

So let’s start off the last column of the year by talking about the most important Marvel event of the year, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Just kidding.

(Although I really do want to talk about Star Wars.)

While Marvel is publishing a number of Star Wars titles, due to Lucasfilm and Marvel both being owned by Disney, all of which I have 1000% more interest in thanks to The Force Awakens, much to my disappointment the one graphic accompaniment I want to read and talk about is not actually a Marvel title. But do go visit this article if you want to read about the weird relationship between Marvel and Star Wars had long before Disney got involved.

Now, onto actual Marvel stuff.

2015 was a pretty landmark year for women and Marvel, and that makes me pretty happy.

It seems fitting, upon reflection, that we started off with the Agent Carter TV series in January and ended with Jessica Jones in November. These series were both important milestones. Agent Carter was the first live action Marvel title led by a woman.

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Jessica Jones was the first live action Marvel led by a woman superhero.

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And they both are action heroes.

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Agent Carter and Jessica Jones also demonstrate how feminism (and casting) can fail to be inclusive even while being progressive at the expense of underrepresented communities. Agent Carter was so uncomfortably white that the #DiversifyAgentCarter campaign was created. Jessica Jones was better, including the brief appearance of Rosario Dawson reprising Claire Temple, but her brief appearance only highlighted how every other incredible complex woman who got a chance to be developed was white.

As Doctor Strange officially moves into production, now seems to the time to remind people (Marvel) that audiences won’t go to see movies that whitewash anymore, as Warner Bros found out with Pan and which was recently reiterated by the Lionsgate Gods of Egypt debacle. When Tilda Swinton was cast as The Ancient One in Doctor Strange she became another character, like Jeri Hogarth in Jessica Jones, to be played by a woman when their comics counterpart is male. But her casting came at the expense of whitewashing what would have been only the third substantial character in the MCU portrayed by Asian actors after Jim Morita (played by Korean-American Kenneth Choi) and Hogun (played by Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano). This is especially important with the Iron Fist casting controversy I mentioned last week.

But we have a lot to look forward to in 2016, too. Season 2 of Agent Carter is set to premiere January 19th and already appears to be more diverse than its first season, and overall, Marvel Comics has been making incredible, deliberate strides towards becoming more diverse in terms of gender, race, and queerness.

Sam Maggs recent article A Feminist Ranking of Superheroes references this, and gives credit where credit is due to Sana Amanat, and I have to agree.

Marvel in particular has a huge range of female-led titles at the moment. Thor! Spider-Gwen! Elektra! Black Widow! Gamora! Silk and Storm feature women of color; Angela: Asgard’s Assassin has a trans woman in a major role. Also of huge importance is the fact that many of these female-led comics have women on their creative teams, because diversity only truly matters if changes are being made both in front and behind the page – not to mention the fact that all those comics are being spearheaded by IRL superhero Sana Amanat, Marvel’s new Director of Content and Character Development.

Marvel ends up with three out of the 10 spots, by the by, with Carol Danvers at #10, Doreen Green a.k.a. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl at #5 , and Kamala Khan at #1. And Marvel is on track for 2016 to be just as amazing. Kate Leth’s Patsy Walker, A.K.A Hellcat premieres this week. Marvel also just announced their second year of variant covers to celebrate Women’s History Month in March. And of course, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther is slated to debut in April. Until then, The Atlantic is collecting Coates’ musings about the process of writing Black Panther here, and it’s a fascinating read.

So overall, I am optimistic. I’m optimistic for Marvel and I’m optimistic for the Mighty Marvel Mondays I will get to write in the coming year. I’m even optimistic for Deadpool.

And now, it wouldn’t be a Year In Review without the obligatory looking back at the best Mighty Marvel Mondays of the year, all made possible by my incredibly supportive editor Laura, and wonderful EIC Megan. Thank you ladies for letting me do more than just report the news.

I wrote a love letter to G. Willow Wilson in May. Well, it wasn’t technically a love letter as it was A Paean to G. Willow Wilson, but I basically gushed about how smart and rhetorically savvy she is, which amounts to kind of the same thing.

In July we said goodbye to Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye with the publication of issue #22, and a few weeks later, I finally wrote about it in A Long Goodbye to Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye run. I still think about that comic, and I still feel its legacy when I read the new run by Lemire and Perez.

While technically my review of Fantastic Four from August was not part of Mighty Marvel Monday, it was definitely about Marvel, and I linked to it in the following week’s Mighty Marvel Monday, so it counts. I still think this movie wasn’t bad–it was tragic by the Greek definition. Maybe in 2016 I’ll write more about that for Comics Academe.

And finally, in September I did a post about my 5 favorite Bisexual Characters for #BiWeek. I mention this post not only to remember my favorite bi characters, but to remind myself that being critical of something that you enjoy does not make you any less of a fan. The kind of criticism a fan is doing matters. Fans who criticize to tear something down are not the same as fans who criticize to build something up. Constance Penley, whose academic work formed the basis of much of my academic work on fandom, used this metaphor:

“The idea is to change the object while preserving it, kind of like giving a strenuous, deep massage that hurts at the time but feels so good afterwards.” (NASA/TREK)

So, Marvel, while we’ve had a rocky year, and you no longer send me PR emails, I still love you. You’re still my fandom. And I’ll still hold you accountable, not in spite of being a fan, but because I’m a fan. Enjoy your massage. 

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Speaking of fans, this artwork has been making the rounds lately, and if you haven’t seen it, you need to.

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If you’re curious about the creator, the Daily Dot has a lovely piece on its significance, and an interview with the artist, Matt Stefani.

Happy Holidays, and I’ll see you in the New Year!

 

Kate Tanski

Kate Tanski

Recovering academic. Fangirl. Geek knitter.
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