Marvel Phase 4: Emphasizing Diversity

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JULY 20: (L-R) President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige, Director Taika Waititi, Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth of Marvel Studios' 'Thor: Love and Thunder' at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2019 Marvel Studios Panel in Hall H on July 20, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

Marvel Studios Reveals Cast of Diverse Superheroes at 2019 Comic-Con International San Diego

Earlier last week, Marvel Studios made a few groundbreaking announcements at Comic-Con 2019, held at the San Diego Convention Center. The three titles with the highest conversation score on Twitter during Comic-Con, measured by ListenFirst, were each Marvel superhero movies with women or minorities in lead roles. “The data shows that not only is Marvel embracing diversity, the audience is as well”.

Marvel unveiled “Phase 4”, the next stage of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and exactly which films and shows are in the lineup.

While fans are ecstatic so many new and returning superheroes are coming to the big screen so soon, fans are also embracing the casting decisions and diversity of the films.

“Shang-Chi And The Ten Rings” – Simu Liu

Canadian star Simu Liu will be playing Marvel’s first Asian-American movie superhero in “Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings”. In an interview with ET Canada, Liu shared his reaction to his role in celebrating Asian representation. “I think about when I was a kid, and deciding who to dress up as for Halloween. I didn’t necessarily have an option that directly spoke to me… It feels crazy to me now, that hopefully, in a couple years, people will be able to dress up as Shang-Chi. My hope doesn’t stop there because it can’t stop there. Shang-Chi is only one, and there are many that have to come after him”. Along with Simu Liu, Tony Leung (popular Hong Kong actor) will play the villain, Mandarin, and Awkwafina is set to co-star Liu in an unspecified leading role. The film is scheduled to be released in February 2021.

“The Eternals” – Lauren Ridloff

Marvel also announced  “The Eternals”, which will premiere November 2020. What’s special about this announcement is Marvel’s casting of deaf actress Lauren Ridloff, who will play Makkari who has always been depicted as a white male.  “We talk about LGBTQ+ people, we talk about people of different races and genders, but I think we forget that diversity means people of all different abilities as well”, says Claire Lim.

“Thor: Love and Thunder” – Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson

Marvel also revealed that the fourth Thor film will star Natalie Portman as the female Thor.  Natalie Portman previously played the role, Jane Foster, Thor’s love interest in previous films before the two ended the relationship. The 2021 film will be based on the eight-issue comic book series, “The Mighty Thor” written by Jason Aaron in 2012 where a new female Thor becomes the Goddess of Thunder, which leads to a Thor vs Thor situation.

The first LGBTQ superhero was also announced – Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson. Thompson herself is also bi-sexual and when questioned what Valkyrie’s first decision as King of New Asgard would be, she declared “She needs to find her Queen. That would be her first order of business. She has some ideas”. 

Thank you Marvel for leading not just with words, but with action – quite literally – in highlighting diversity and representation on the big screen.