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Superheroes for a New Generation

A Group of modern day superheroes. Megan Brandrup

A Group of modern day superheroes. Photo courtesy Photopin

By Megan Brandrup

In an era where men and women have equal rights and people are taught at a younger and younger age to show tolerance towards all races, religions, and sexual orientations, pop culture has finally joined the movement.

Marvel recently began creating superheroes for a new generation of movie-goers and comic book readers. Famous super heroes like Spider-Man, Thor, and even Captain America have been given a 21st century update. Spider-man is now a young half black, half Puerto Rican, high school kid. Thor, who is known as one of the most macho Marvel characters, is now a woman. Captain America is no longer Steve Rogers, he now goes by Sam Wilson, an African-American superhero.
Leading the way for the creation of these new and culturally diverse characters is Axel Alonso. Alonso, a Hispanic man in his late 40’s, knows his way around a comic book store. Alonso originally worked for DC Comics, until 2000 when he was recruited by Marvel and has been creating unique characters ever since. In a 2015 article with Time Magazine Alonso said, ” It was always in the back of my mind that I would like to see more superheroes that look like me and my son.”

Many have embraced this change. In the September 7/ September 14, 2015 edition of Time Magazine, Disney reported a 22 percent net increase in sales thanks to the Marvel film “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Many attribute the movie’s success to it’s very diverse cast of characters.

Female characters in superhero films have become more common.  Strong female comic book characters including Poison Ivy, Cat Women, Wonder Woman, Bat Girl, and Super Girl, have been known to grace the big screen or be featured characters in many comic books. Less common are the culturally diverse characters. Only a few of these characters are of a different ethnicity. The most predominately ethnic character in the Marvel Universe is Nick Fury, an African American man.

As a huge Marvel fan, a feminist, and someone who is thoroughly passionate about the rights of others, I feel that I can relate to these new characters and what they represent on a personal level.  I believe that by creating more diverse characters, we can show people of all ages that our generation is working hard everyday towards making society better for everyone.  We will teach our children to love everyone, and not to judge people based by their race, creed, sexual orientation, or gender, but instead by the content of their character.  We will not preach judgement and disapproval, but instead teach them acceptance and tolerance.  I believe that changing some of these characters is just a small step.  Taking this small step will lead to even bigger things.  I hope that future generations will look back and be able to say that we were the ones who changed the norms, and that we were the ones who ended intolerance and hatred towards anything that was different.  Marvel is sending a message.  I think that this message is one of hope.  The future generations will spread our message of acceptance and our future will ultimately be brighter.

Not all of the Marvel movies have updated their character’s just yet. The Avengers are still predominantly white males. However, Marvel has announced the release of Ms. Marvel, set for 2018. Even though it is a few years off, many are excited to see a strong female superhero grace the screen. As these new characters grow in popularity, hopefully other entertainment franchises will take notice and update their popular characters. Until then, we will just have to stick to reading about these awesome new characters in our comic books.