Secret Agent Man

[It’s 4:30am. I’ll color this one when I wake up.]

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Coulson Lives! Yay! Except that sort of deflates the emotional impetus for the unification of the team in the 3rd act of The Avengers! Boo! I have complex and conflicting emotions about a thing just like one of Joss Whedon’s characters! Yay! Oh no, I’ve been killed tragically, just like one of… You get the idea.

I am, in a word (SPOILERS: The word in question is “very.”) VERY excited about Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD. The full trailer make it look like a more fun version of Fringe. Not that Fringe wasn’t fun. This just looks MORE fun. Perhaps more light hearted. I really hope it manages to bring back that “comedy in the face of tragedy, but also totally solid action and complex story telling” formula that has been missing from TV for so long. I can’t think of a single show that’s melded those attributes without leaning too heavily on one in spite of the others since Firefly, or before that, Buffy. Wait… I’m sensing a pattern here.

As for J.A.R.’s super secret role, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he is “basically Luke Cage” without actually being called “Luke Cage.” Seems like something they might do in order to free up licensing for the character and give them more creative freedom with his powers and backstory.

COMMENTERS: So is it just me or are super heroes still overwhelmingly white? I know there are efforts being made to introduce more variety in the hero landscape (the new half-hispanic, half-black Spider-Man comes to mind), and I know I haven’t been a big comic reader since I was 14 (about 17 years ago), but I still don’t see much diversity among the metahumans. Though it seems DC is more diverse than Marvel. That could also be a total misconception on my part, but it SEEMS that way. You tell me.

Comments (49)

Stranger's avatar

Stranger · 107 weeks ago

You can blame latent racism covered up as “being true to the character” in comic circles for that. If they make a NEW minority character, no one reads it because “theyre just trying to be PC”. If they change identities to a legacy character with a minority, all hell breaks loose. There really is no way to win, comic fans just dont seem to want diversity.

13 replies · active 97 weeks ago

Bruden's avatar

Bruden · 107 weeks ago

I’d disagree with that claim. Comic fans do want diversity. The problem is that most of the attempts at diversity are legitimately retconning a character to be black now, which is retconning that all comic fans absolutely hate, or making a blatant clone of an existing character with a new name and also it’s not a white male because “look at us we’re being diverse shower us with praise and publicity for being PC in comics!” PR stunts still haven’t gone the way of the dodo.If you introduce a new character, who isn’t simply “blackverine” but is actually interesting on their own merits, and rather than scream to the assembled press of the world “look at us we made black spider man, we are so into this cultural diversity thing buy our stuff!” you actually just focus on the merits of the character as a character instead of as a black guy, comic fans will be interested.

So far the comic CREATORS haven’t been very interested in making characters that aren’t a white male without holding a giant press party to celebrate how great they must be for having the courage to introduce Captain Mexican American.

While I agree with your statement, I have to say, I really would like to read an issue or two of Blackverine and Captain Mexican American. I am *really* trying to treat this topic with a serious analytical eye, but those names make me helplessly giggle.
But they change character race/ethnicity all the time. For example, there’s Ra’s al Ghul, Talia al Ghul, Bane, the Mandarin, all the characters in the Last Airbender movie, most of the cast of the Dragonball movie, characters in the Prince of Persia movie, the main character in 30 Days of Night, Katniss Everdeen, a certain character in Star Trek, etc.And that’s not even including the whitewashing of characters in media that are based on real people of other races.

Handigoat's avatar

Handigoat · 106 weeks ago

Scotty is black. Deal with it.
Kryss LaBryn's avatar

Kryss LaBryn · 107 weeks ago

Maybe “comic fans” don’t seem to want diversity because no one who would be interested in that is reading because they aren’t diverse. Kind of a vicious cycle.Perhaps they only hear from a vocal minority of readers and the bulk of them are pretty much fine with the idea, but don’t say anything. Like when people kept bitching because 90’s Justice League was funny, so they made it serious again, and then people bitched about that. I remember their replies in the letters pages: “Seriously?? Where the fuck were you people telling us we were doing it right back when we were ‘doing it right’?” (*paraphrased slightly).

I mean, it’s not like they have handled women particularity well in comics, and we’re about 50% of the population.

I suspect it’s similar to how, as a Heathen, I kind of both look forward to (because I have kids) and (mostly) horribly dread the day Disney discovers Norse mythology…

Based on the treatment of Hercules, I expect a buddy romp between Thor and Loki that teaches the value of brotherhood and family.
bix's avatar

bix · 107 weeks ago

Well the slashfic writers would be happy…
Candace's avatar

Candace · 107 weeks ago

Heh. It looks like they might be about to do that in the next Thor movie.
Ohana means family.
Kirby's avatar

Kirby · 106 weeks ago

In the words of Humon’s Sweden: IT WAS A REALLY PRETTY HORSE OKAY?!
PackRatAttack's avatar

PackRatAttack · 107 weeks ago

Plus if he plays Rage, Whedon can have fun with the whole ‘Big – Really a kid in a hero’s body aspect’
I wonder if white men in tights is a superhero thing because many of the iconic characters were created such a long time ago? I don’t really know as I don’t read that many superhero comics (except Hawkguy, it’s great, bro), but Marvel’s Miles Morales and Miss America Chavez don’t exactly have +40 years of history, do they? (Feel free to inform me of their origins, super fans!)Anyhow, I think the most diverse comic I read is Chew. Then again it’s creator-owned Image insanity about food-related…powers (nothing super about some of them), without a cape in sight.

1  · active 107 weeks ago

Candace's avatar

Candace · 107 weeks ago

I think you’re almost certainly right about the time frame issue. Most of the best-known superheroes were created long enough ago that racism was, unfortunately, still very much openly a part of U.S. society. Let’s face it, segregation existed in the U.S. South until the ’60s, and in the early to mid-’60s, the American music industry still had white artists “covering” R & B tunes by black artists. Anybody remember Pat Boone?Slavery in the U.S. may have been abolished after the Civil War, but racism most definitely was not, and still plagues us to some extent today. I think when it comes to comics, though, the current issue is the difficulties inherent in bucking tradition, and the the challenges of individuals to get new ideas through all the comic book equivalent of evil Fox Executive types.

The Unknown FB's avatar

The Unknown FB · 106 weeks ago

Hee hee…”Andrew Whitebread”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7jtpy0lfBU
Ron's avatar

Ron · 107 weeks ago

I’m a 31 year old white male and I still read comics. I actually read the new spiderman. At first it felt like a PR stunt but they managed to make him interesting enough that I actually enjoy his story now. Having a black Nick Fury in ultimates was really weird at first but now that the movies are out it is what everyone expects. I guess all I’m trying to say is that comic fans hate change at first but, if you stick with it and don’t change it back in 6 months (see every comic book death ever except uncle ben) then the fans will adapt and accept.

1  · active 106 weeks ago

 Stephen's avatar

Stephen · 106 weeks ago

To be fair, there aren’t a ton of characters created since the late ’70s who’ve really stuck around in general. If you sit down and make a list of iconic mainstream super characters, heroes and villains both, most of them are guys who were created back in the ’60s or earlier. They’ve been periodically updated and revised and re-imagined, but Spidey is still fighting Doc Ock, Batman is still fighting Joker, etc. Every now and then you have a new character make an impression, but in general the medium is resistant to change. Not really the medium, but, I dunno. The nature of serialized storytelling? Capitalism? Take your pick.Any new writers trying to create now have to cope with that as much as they do larger social issues like racism and sexism.

DuckAmuck's avatar

DuckAmuck · 107 weeks ago

Not only are most superheroes white, most superheroes are male. There’s a great lack of diversity.I think a lot of it stems from simply the fact that the original comic creators were white males. The early female superheroes were created as eye candy and not as full-fledged heroes themselves. (how many times has Wonder Woman needed to be saved?)

Diversity can’t just be added without being hackneyed. TV has already proven that. White guys can’t believably write black guy parts or latina female parts. Has to be natural.

BTW, watching some Avengers cartoons recently. I SO BADLY want an episode (or comic, whatever) that focuses on the superheroes’ girlfriends, complaining about what a jerk he is for leaving all the time to “save the day”. I so want to see or read that.

1  · active 106 weeks ago

Bryce's avatar

Bryce · 106 weeks ago

I think the problem with white guys writing black guy or latina female parts is that they then define the parts as the race and not the person. If somebody tries to write a “white guy” part it comes off as similarly hackneyed. This is actually pretty difficult to pull off well, because when we assign a race to a character we try to write the character to embody that race, which leads to the stereotypes. Of course the counter problem is that if a character *doesn’t* fit the stereotypes it’s criticized.
Chenrezi's avatar

Chenrezi · 107 weeks ago

The only major black superhero I can think of offhand is Jon Stewart as Green Lantern. He had a pretty good run on Justice League as a main character. I was talking with my roommate the other day about how they missed a big chance when they didn’t make HIM the main character for the Green Lantern movie, but of course Hal Jordan is more “classic”…
Grady's avatar

Grady · 107 weeks ago

Sorry, but Jeffrey Bell, the show’s executive producer, said in an interview that the superhero played by J. August Richards isn’t Luke Cage.
Citizen Alan's avatar

Citizen Alan · 107 weeks ago

I’m really disappointed at the great opportunity they missed with Coulson — they should have had him show up in Thor 2! He died in combat against an Asgardian, so is entitled to join the Einerjar in Valhalla. From there, he could have followed Thor around during the plot of Thor 2 (a reversal of the fish-out-of-water story from the first movie) and then been rewarded with resurrection by Odin at the end.
Allen's avatar

Allen · 107 weeks ago

The boyfriend was black. Northstar isn’t.
lou's avatar

lou · 107 weeks ago

I just watchted the trailer, and the hooded jump-out-of-the-building guy looked definitely Luke Cagey
Nevest's avatar

Nevest · 107 weeks ago

As a comic fan from semi-way back, perhaps you are familiar with the concept of a SHIELD Life Model Decoy (LMD)?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_Model_Decoy
Super proud of you guys for looking at this thing from every angle and posing to really valid arguments. I guess it boils down to the “superhero” is a throwback from a less evolved, less integrated time, comics fans are resistant to change, positive change on the part of the publishers almost ALWAYS comes across as a PR stunt even when it (rarely) isn’t and changes that aren’t well received lead to slow sales which leads straight back to the status quo. Comics are a weird animal.

1  · active 107 weeks ago

lou's avatar

lou · 106 weeks ago

DC has Batwing (Batman Inc.’s operative in the Congo), Static Shock, Mr. Terrific, Katana, half the cast of the current Teen titans, Batwoman (Jewish Redhead Lesbian and possibly Bruce Wayne’s cousin), Steel, Vibe, Cyborg, quite a few Earth-2 characters, Black Bat a.k.a. Cassandra Cain (Batman Inc.’s operative in Hong Kong), Ra’s al-Ghul and Talia, and I’m sure there’s a bunch of non-white humans in the Legion of Superheroes. So they’re no slouches when it comes to diversity.Also, you left out a bunch of X-Men in your list, and the black Nick Fury in the main Marvel Universe is the long lost son of the original Nick Fury. He made his debut after the Fear Itself event, along with his best friend, Phil Coulson.
Damn, it feels good to be a geek!

Wilson R's avatar

Wilson R · 107 weeks ago

Just some of the minorities from the current DC Heroes – Cyborg, Blue Beetle, Vibe, John Stewart, Bunker (Mexican and Gay), Batwing, Katana, Black Lightning (Although I think officially he’s just Lightning Now), Firestorm, the Engineer.I don’t think you can really say either one of the big companies is really any more or less diverse, both have been making efforts.

But more than just ‘race-washing’ a popular character to add diversity, the true success stories come from taking an established B or C list character and making them relevant and interesting. Spending time and effort on promoting minority characters is the far better path. Both Cyborg and Luke Cage are/have become far more popular and prevalent due to the effort of creators to include them in an organic way.

1  · active 107 weeks ago

Bryce's avatar

Bryce · 106 weeks ago

It’s a long shot, but I’d like to see a stab at making him a new superhero that doesn’t feel like a bargain bin rip-off of some other superhero. Difficult since there’s a bajillion old ones.
Valerie's avatar

Valerie · 106 weeks ago

I’m kind of hoping he’s playing Eli Bradley (Patriot) from the Young Avengers
Noah's avatar

Noah · 106 weeks ago

They’ve said that Richards is playing a wholely original character.
Hahaha! I just watched this video about “black cosplay.” Anyone who just read these comments should watch it. It’s enlightening. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBa9AlDJDMY
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