With some backlash surrounding recent castings, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told Vulture in a recent interview that he wants to create more diverse casts and move past “completely white” casts.
“I think that in the movies we’ve already made, and certainly in the movies that are coming up, it will be as inclusive a group of characters as one could want,” Feige said. “For us, it’s important that we don’t feel like a completely white, European cast.”
Much of the casting controversy comes around Marvel’s next two products to be released: Doctor Strange, which premieres in North American theaters this Friday and Iron Fist, the next Netflix entry into the MCU which will be released on the streaming service in March 2017.
While the casting of Jones is comic book-accurate, Feige did state he understood the Iron Fist character was developed in a time when pop culture was dominated by white characters.
“The comics have felt like that sometimes, in the early days,” he admitted, “but frankly, even the comics in the ’60s … I mean, Black Panther was created in the ’60s. You look at Captain America’s team [back then]” — a group of Howling Commandoes that became even more diverse when brought to the big screen for Captain America: The First Avenger — “and yes, there are things to cringe at, but they were being progressive at the time.”
In Doctor Strange, Feige cast actress Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, a character that has been an Asian male in the comics. Although Danny Rand, a.k.a. Iron Fist, has been a white male in the comics, many people thought an Asian actor would have been better suited for the Netflix show.
It did take nearly a dozen films for Marvel Studios to start adding more diversity, but you can see they’re certainly acknowledging the criticism and creating more diverse casts in future films. Take a look at actor Chiwetel Ejiofor’s role in Doctor Strange; Ejiofor, the 12 Years a Slave star, plays Baron Mordo, a character who’s white in the comics. You can also look at the casting of black actress Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, a white Asgardian in the comics.
In addition to Ejiofor and Thompson, Marvel has female leads in three other movies in the next two years, including Zoe Saldana in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, Zendaya in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Lupita Nyong’o in Black Panther.
“Our filmmaker came in and had pictures of real high schools, and they are as diverse as you could imagine,” said Feige. “That was something that was important to us, to set it apart from other Spidey films that have been made — to carve that niche — and to have it represent the world today.” So while the six superheroes in the very first Avengers film were all played by white actors, Feige promises that the increasingly populated lineups of Marvel movies to come will add many different faces to the mix. “It’s definitely important to us,” said Feige, “that these movies reflect the world.”