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Racial Cancel Culture: Examples And A Much Needed Conversation On Real Life And The Superhero Genre


Diverse superhero characters are desperately needed onscreen…

So, it’s Monday. The beginning of a new week is always exciting as we never know where work will take us. A few days ago, we posted a poll to Twitter regarding what people wanted to see more of on the site. The results are in and we’re proud to announce you’ll be seeing more content on cancel culture. That is the reason for this post. Now, this conversation we feel not a lot of entertainment outlets cover if at all. The idea of comic book characters has been around for quite literally decades. Most of the time, they were white men who stood for white privilege ideologies. There was almost never a diverse conversation. Oh, and it was also sexist towards women.

When different ethnicities were introduced, there were almost racist undertones. Moreover, examples include the moniker given to M’Baku in the comics who was known as Man-Ape.

Another example is the issues that were raised with the casting of Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange in the role of The Ancient One. Kevin Feige said prior to the upcoming release of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings as per Deadline:

The casting of the Ancient One was a major topic of conversation in the development and the creative process of the story. We didn’t want to play into any of the stereotypes found in the comic books, some of which go back as far as 50 years or more. We felt the idea of gender-swapping the role of the Ancient One was exciting. It opened up possibilities, it was a fresh way into this old and very typical storyline. Why not make the wisest bestower of knowledge in the universe to our heroes in the particular film a woman instead of a man?

A Further Explanation Into The Casting Of Tilda Swinton As The Ancient One

[Credit: Vanity Fair]

Kevin Feige has since said that he regrets casting Tilda Swinton in the role and that an Asian actor should’ve been cast as stated in an article by Men’s Health. He spoke about how the idea was to escape the Asian stereotype of the wise old sage that The Ancient One is often portrayed as. Also, the head honcho of Marvel Studios admits that were other ways to honour the character’s ethnicity without straying away from the original depiction.

What’s more, is Benedict Wong who plays Wong praised the casting by saying according to Den of Geek:

I’m really pleased with this whole production. This production really is about championing diversity. We have two strong female leads, Mads, Chiwetel, posh Benedict, and not-so-posh Benedict. It has all the colo[u]rs.

However, Lewis Tan who appeared in the Netflix Marvel series, Iron Fist as Zhou Cheng wasn’t as forgiving regarding Swinton’s casting. He said, as per ScreenCrush:

I’m not the biggest fan of that casting choice. I can see why they wanted to switch it up. Producers, studios, directors, writers — there’s a lot of voices. I think that an Asian woman would’ve been a fantastic cast in that. They said she would be too much of a “Dragon Lady” or too stereotypical, but I disagree.

Even Tilda Swinton herself raised the issue with Margaret Cho, according to Jezebel.

At least Feige was willing to acknowledge he regretted the casting. We think everyone is entitled to their opinion on this particular issue. Though, do we think it was a good idea to cast a woman? Yes. Do we think Swinton was the best choice? Yes and no. She did a great performance, but Lewis Tan had a point where he said that an Asian woman would’ve been a better fit.

There Is Nothing ‘Boring’ About Diverse Characters

Stargirl Season 1
[Credit: Stargirl Fandom]

The reason we wanted to do this post was because of the racist cancel culture that appears in the superhero genre. This was a point that was highlighted by Shang-Chi star and total living legend, Simu Liu on Twitter. This was in reference to the release drop on another trailer for the film in which he plays the first titular Asian superhero:

I can’t believe Marvel is making a Shang Chi movie. Most boring character ever. Dude doesn’t even have any special abilities! No way it’s gonna do well.

While he was being sarcastic, he does raise a fair point. Your standard white fanboy will whinge because a diverse character hasn’t gotten superpowers of any description which makes them ‘boring’. However, they praise Caucasian characters without powers, i.e. Tony Stark/Iron Man as being total badasses. We also highlighted this in a post we did about how black actress Anjelika Washington from Stargirl had been facing attacks because her character Beth Chapel is seen by them as ‘useless’ due to her skin colour.

Not only is this morally disingenuous, but they also applaud Beth’s predecessor, Charles McNider as a badass, despite him having the same skillset. So, the reason is? He looks like them, meaning he is caucasian. There is literally no difference between Beth and McNider outside of gender and race. They’re both human and they’re smart, and therefore, playing their own role within their version of the JSA. It shouldn’t matter what they look like.

Racial Cancel Culture

woman embracing a child face to face
Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva on

Fans who bully actors of colour who play characters they don’t enjoy watching are a huge problem in the age of a new emerging form of cancel culture. First, there was the version of shutting down people because of their opinions. Now, there’s a racial edition.

Finally, racially slamming actors of colour for what they look like and saying they’re undeserving of being in a superhero role is a form of cancel culture. If the victims try to speak up, they’re silenced. This isn’t on. It doesn’t matter who you are within the fandom. You’re allowed to have an opinion, but don’t target someone who doesn’t look like you because you don’t like their character. In conclusion, every person regardless of skin colour has a right to be heard.

Racism isn’t just based on skin colour. There’s so much more to it. It’s the vile barbs from people on the street, the looks, the horrible messages via email, text, Direct Messages, etc. Look at the segregation that went on in the US. African-Americans were treated like they were a different species. They were not given voices until Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and countless others took a stand.

In the superhero genre, we’re experiencing an unnecessary shutdown of diverse voices. Why should the caucasian community only be allowed to have their say? Look at how the MCU started. All white actors in Iron Man except for Terrence Howard who was the original actor who played Rhodey. In Thor, we had Idris Elba’s Heimdall with an entirely white cast. Then Captain America: The Winter Soldier introduced Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson. In fact, the main Avengers cast was white while Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury had a recurring role throughout the whole movie.

About Author

C.J. Hawkings has written for the now-defunct Entertainment website, Movie Pilot and the still functioning WhatCulture and ScreenRant. She now writes for FanSided and is loving it!

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