Friday, August 27, 2010

Racebending - 0, Marvel - 1

We posted earlier about how the casting call for the Runaways movie neglected to mention Nico's ethnicity, a move that struck fear into the hearts of Runaways fans everywhere. Would Marvel, so soon after M. Night's The Last Airbender debacle, be so callous as to whitewash away Nico's Japanese-American ethnicity?

Well, is reporting that Marvel issued a press release in response to their concerns, stating:

"To address your concern over casting for the role of Nico, as we do with all of our films, we intend to stay true to the legacy and story of the comic when casting these parts. Thus, our goal is to cast an Asian American actress as depicted in the comic series and the casting notice will be adjusted accordingly."

Well, I think Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury and Michael Clarke Duncan's Kingpin would argue that racebending is, in fact, something that Marvel does, but clearly the comic book giant has done the right thing today by opting to spotlight the diverse nature of America and its superheroes. Keep it up, Marvel!

(At least until the day when people expect you to racebend out as many or more of the ethnic majority as you racebend in. Then please make your movie casts diverse and interesting! #reimagining #firstnationsironfist)

2 betches:

g_whiz said...

I don't know, considering how 99% of the comic universe is overrepresented by white male characters, and the Avengers token black character of late is Luke Cage, I think - as far as the movie line is concerned having Nick Fury be portrayed by Samuel L Jackson is perfectly understandable. Besides, the Ultimate Universe's Nick Fury looks exactly like Jackson and, frankly is a lot more interesting than the 616 version. Whether or not the resemblence is a coencidence and the casting came after is beyond me, but I think the importance of Nico being Japanese American is much different.

Taking an already established, very important minority character and making them white is much much different than taking a character who'se race varies depending on which universe they're in and making one of them stick for film purposes. Its losing one of a few non-cliched, non-sterotypical japanese-american characters in the case of Nico. Its losing one of hundreds of thousands of quasi-generic white male characters in the case of Nick Fury.

Kuhnsy said...

Totally agree with you, g_whiz! I mentioned Jackson and Duncan merely to illustrate that's concerns about racebending in a Marvel film weren't unfounded. In the sense of racebending of any kind, yes it has occurred under Marvel's eye. In the sense of a white-washing policy, though, you're right: Marvel has kept its (myriad of) white actors solely in roles of traditionally white characters.

My parenthetical statement at the end of the post is meant as clarification on that point: I'm happy about Nico's casting call clarification, but not because I'm a comic book purist who thinks comic book ethnicity should be preserved as cannon in all forms . I think that the transition from page to screen is a great opportunity to diversify a genre that has historically been too monochromatic. If Marvel started racebending all its characters so that all the queer characters of color (e.g., Bling! Are there any others?) were played by straight, white people and all the Thors and Captain Americas and Iron Men and Wolverines were played as queers of colour, I think I would be pro-racebending/pro-queerbending. It's all bending, some of it is just more socially conscious.

RE: Ultimate Fury
The comic book version came first, but according to Samuel L. Jackson's official website they asked to use his likeness, so it is intentional.

Post a Comment