The Marvel Cinematic Universe is set to increase diversity and representation significantly as Phase Four unfolds on both the big screen and Disney Plus, with the world’s biggest and most popular franchise looking to lead from the front when it comes to the industry-wide shifts that have been at the forefront of the cultural conversation for a long time now.
It did take a while to get to this point, though, with top billing in the first seventeen consecutive MCU blockbusters going to a white dude, but that’s all changed over the last few years, and will continue into the future. Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Black Widow, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, The Marvels, Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk and Ironheart are just some of the Phase Four titles broadening the horizons in terms of diversity, and in a new interview Marvel Studios executive vice president Victoria Alonso admitted that doing anything else would be leaving money on the table.
“There’s about 6,000 characters in the Marvel library that we have access to, so if this goes right, we will be telling these stories for many, many, many, many, many generations to come. And the importance of laying the ground for what’s to come is that in those stories there’s many different characters that you can actually voice. The reason we have that success consistently is because our audience is global. You cannot have a global audience and not somehow start to represent it.
For us, it was really, really, really important to have that. So you can look at it from the social point of view, the cultural point of view. But truthfully, this is a business. From a fiscal point of view, you are leaving money on the table by not representing. We can only tell stories if we succeed and actually have money to make them. So the idea being, ‘If it makes money, why not make it?’. To me it seemed like a very simple equation, but it took a lot of time, a lot of talking.”
While some might view her comments as being a touch on the cynical side, let’s not forget that at the end of the day, she’s involved in running a business solely designed to generate the maximum amount of revenue for both Marvel and Disney, and it’s not as if any one group in particular is being catered to above all else when the plan is to make sure that all races, creeds and backgrounds are seen at the forefront of the MCU’s continued expansion.
At this stage, the long-running superhero series is virtually bulletproof from a critical and commercial perspective, and having cemented that position, now is arguably the best time for the MCU to start taking some serious risks and making big swings.