Marvel Comics has added a hefty dose of diversity to its superhero titles lately, but one publishing executive within the company believes they could always use more.
The publisher's "All-New Marvel NOW!" initiative has added, among other titles, a new solo book for She-Hulk, a new solo book for Black Widow, a new ongoing series for Captain Marvel and a brand-new Ms. Marvel in the form of Pakistani-American Muslim teenager Kamala Khan, all of which mark a substantial rise in the number of superhero titles led by Marvel women. Fans have not failed to notice this jump in books led by women, but according to Marvel editor and senior vice president of publishing Tom Breevort, while this push is a step in the right direction, it's also far from the end. He explains why:
"There's always room for more; there's always room for further diversity. Whether it's more Latino characters, or more Black characters, or more LGBT characters -- you pretty much can pick any group of people, and as long as you're not talking about middle-aged white men like myself, they're probably underrepresented in the world of superhero comics," Breevort said. "It's tough from a sales perspective, because all of the characters that are still the bedrock, firmament characters tend to be guys that were created in the 1960s if not earlier, at a time when comic books were predominantly, if not exclusively, white. While it's nice that we've made some steps -- we have more female-led books than ever before -- that doesn't mean we should stop coming up with them. Just because we have a few books that have Hispanic characters, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't look for more opportunities to do more there. The same thing is true with every demographic that you can speak to. No matter where you happen to sit within the cultural zeitgeist, it's never mission accomplished. It's always, "What's next?" There's always going to be somebody who is underrepresented, or that you could represent more truthfully or more affectingly."
Marvel's received a lot of media attention over the last few years for its diversity pushes, from the introduction of Kamala Khan as a part of All-New Marvel NOW! to the marriage of X-Man Northstar to his longtime partner Kyle Jinadu in 2012's Astonishing X-Men #51. For Breevort, stories like these reflect not only the company's desire to grow in diversity, but a change in its audience. The world is different from the way it was when Marvel superheroes took off in the 1960s, therefore the readership is different, and therefore Marvel wants to be different too. If you ask Breevort, that means the company's cast of characters has an opportunity to get even more diverse.
"I feel like we could use more books like 'Ms. Marvel.' We're capable of being more sophisticated in our storytelling these days than people were able to in years gone bye," Breevort said. "The audience is older, the audience is more accepting and more sophisticated in terms of what they want in terms of characterization and emotional depth and emotional maturity. It really gives us the opening to explore any of these situations that human beings happen to exist in across the world. Hopefully, we'll be able to continue to do that to a degree of infinite diversity."
Ongoing hits like Captain Marvel and new hits like the first issue of Ms. Marvel prove that Marvel's push for diversity is paying off with quite a few readers, but there's still plenty of work left to do when it comes to creating a more diverse slate of superheroes. So, what should the publisher that brought us Black Panther, Luke Cage, Carol Danvers, Storm and more bring us next? What would you like to see from Marvel's more diverse slate of titles in the future?
For more of Breevort's thoughts on diversity and other issues, check out his full interview with Comic Book Resources.