How Over-Political Correctness Is Ruining Comic Book Cinema
This is an article that has been stuck in my mind for several days. For the same reason as the article heading, I was afraid not to type it. However, I decided to write it. First off, let’s make some things clear. I am not a male chauvinist, sexist, racist or any other type of -ist you prefer. I belong to two major minority communities in both religion and race in America and believe strongly in the fair representation of races, ideologies, religions and sexes in mainstream media. However, I feel I must type this in order to highlight a problem that I feel is very common these days regarding comic book films in Hollywood.
Political correctness in Hollywood started out with very noble intentions. Instead of the typical damsel in distress, we would have the headstrong female character who is able to save herself. Instead of making Chinese people as stereotyped small eyed quick, speaking weird, comedic kung fu characters, we would have actual people with relevant stories regardless of their race. No more “all white” or “all Christian” cast. But then things got weird…
My major problem with these comic films is that they have featured female cast members to attract women to franchises that have been traditionally the domain of men. Something that could easily be done by creating female original, fleshed out characters with their own storyline and character progression. This reminds me of the episode of Powerpuff girls where Blossom is asked by a female criminal what superheroes are female except for them. Blossom begins by naming bat girl, super girl etc but the criminal replies that these are all copies of their male counterparts. Take a look at wonder woman. A great comic and live action character, the amazing amazon who was wonderfully represented by Gal Gadot in the recent Batman v Superman movie. She has her own story, she is not dependent on any male and can kick ass. Hell, her island people actively hate men. Similarly in the Marvel Universe we have scarlet witch. A character backed up by years of comic lore and original. Lastly, and my favorite, look at what J.J Abrams did with Rey. A new character, introduced in a predominantly male franchise such as Star Wars, but with an original story. He could have rebooted the franchise with new actors for Luke, Leia and Han and made Leia a man or Luke a woman but he respected the fans and the history. Imagine today if they made Buffy, one of the icons of the late 90s into a man. That would be a slap in the face for all the people who respect and admire the franchise. I hate the stereotypical, scantily dressed damsel in distress as much as the next guy but please make your own characters. No one likes bad creative process or no creative process in this case.
Our second major issue is race in comics and movies. I think we’ve made great strides as a people with our racial stereotyping of characters. But then we come to damn stupid decisions because producers and directors are afraid of backlash. Take the Mandarin for example. He is the offspring of a Chinese father and an English mother. He honors both heritages and is Chinese. But Hollywood, in all it’s infinite wisdom to avoid a Fu Manchu stereotype, decided to put an English actor and a character that was not Chinese at all. The character only wears a Chinese cloak to emphasize his fascination with Sun Tzu. Not to mention the fact that the reveal at the end of the movie made him a hoax. Marvel had to actually make a short All Hail the King in order to leave the possibility of a real Mandarin later in the MCU. Secondly, has anyone seen the new Hermione?
This is going to be a controversial one. Look the fact of the matter is while gay people have been horridly under-represented in the comic books and movies and this is something that should be changed, not every character needs to be interpreted as gay if the only thing to go on is a friendship very close to a character of the same sex. Similar to my previous arguments, new characters should be designed to accommodate. Or if a character has to be made gay, then there should be no backstory that already has the character being straight. Take the example of Sulu. In the movie Star Trek Generations, we are introduced to Sulu’s daughter. There is also a non-cannon novel indicating Sulu’s daughter’s story. Plus, not to mention that there is considerable pressure from George Takei, the original actor of Sulu who was gay to not go against Roddenberry’s vision of Sulu with this change in Star Trek Beyond. The famous fan series Star Trek New Voyages incorporated the idea of a gay nephew for Kirk which was a character that was well-developed, had value and was not primarily focused on for being gay. Also, look at what J.k did to Dumbledore. In just one interview she made Dumbledore gay. While I have no problems with being gay or whatever, the problem is that the story was finished by the time of the interview and since there has been no evidence of Dumbledore’s sexuality, it seemed an unnecessary addition to stir up controversy. Again the root cause of the problem is the same, making characters different instead of adding new ones to further the story, ruining the mythos of the original characters. In what if stories, sure, but cannon should not be changed that way.
Lastly let’s talk about the ideas no one wants to talk about. Comic movies have become so ignorant of our problems. Yes the fantasy element does mean a certain degree of escapism but the real-world aspect shouldn’t be ignored. I was reading the comic Avengers Universe no 2 the other day and Red Skull talked so much about relevant problems of consumerism, gluttony and laziness in our society while pummeling Captain America and using some mind control powers stolen from Xavier to control the other mutants and humans too. There was a combination of what made the issue relevant and fantasy. Marvel movies haven’t really been doing that until Civil War came out which was a real improvement. DC in this case is better because the Dark Knight series left some poignant questions about vigilantism, crime and justice. And Batman v Superman really talked about the real world implications of people with powers and their role in our society, if any. In this case, Sony’s X-men 2 was quite good but the comics explore the mutant vs human divide and systemic racism and mass genocide that has only been partially touched in Future’s past and this movie. I believe there are major issues to be explored, crime, terror, fear, hatred, violence, vigilantism, human experimentation, the singling out of a particular people on basis of race or religion that should really be explored in our nerdy world. There is nothing wrong with an honest to goodness funny film, but seriously, Avengers was just an excuse to show off great graphics and the whole buildup to the united movie. I know the movie format is somewhat limited in it’s ability to portray such issues in such a short time, but when I look at V for Vendetta and the Dark Knight trilogy I feel there is much that can be accomplished.
That’s pretty much my feelings on the topic. Hope no one gets offended by this, but it is my two cents…so feel free to leave your opinions in the comments section
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