The Student News Site of State University of New York at Brockport

The Stylus

The Stylus

The Stylus

Marvel Studios is trying to diversify and it’s working– somewhat.


Since 2008, Marvel Studios has released 25 films in their Cinematic Universe series. For the first decade, there was a distinct lack of diversity in the casting of these films. In February 2018, Marvel released “Black Panther,” the first Marvel Cinematic Universe [MCU] entry led by a non-white lead actor and the first MCU film to have a predominantly Black cast. This September, after another string of films with a distinct lack of diversity, Marvel released “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”. 

“Shang-Chi” has also seen a string of critical acclaim, reaching a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, a high score by MCU standards. Much of the acclaim for the film comes from its exploration into the lives of its characters and the marginalization they experience.  

Early in the film, the title character finds himself ditching his real-world identity for his superhero one while fighting a mysterious gang on an accelerating bus ride through the streets of San Francisco. Author Jeff Yang recently wrote a guest essay for the New York Times examining “Shang-Chi’s” depiction of the Asian-American experience within this moment of the film.  

“For…the riders on the bus, cheering him on and snapping selfies, this is a brand-new hero. All of them are simply seeing him as who he really is. Don’t we all deserve as much?” Yang said.  

“Shang-Chi” not only provides representation for the Asian-American community, but it also examines, in some detail, the blatant and rampant racism that Asian-Americans face daily.  

The two main characters, Shang-Chi, who goes by Shaun, and his childhood friend Katy describe experiences in school where they were racially profiled and felt forced to assimilate to American culture. 

Katy describes nervously blurting out the lyrics to the Eagles’ “Hotel California” in one instance as if to prove that she belonged in a predominantly white school where she was being targeted and bullied for her race. A perfect song for a film about feeling trapped in Americana, the song appears on a few occasions throughout the film to remind the viewer of the continuous pressure people of Asian descent feel to fit in to the American Dream culture. 

The next MCU film slated for release is “Eternals,” set to debut in November. Eternals, directed by recent Academy Award winner Chloe Zhao, will feature another diverse cast, more diverse than any prior entry into the MCU, and the first MCU film to feature a gay superhero. After that film, Marvel has lots of sequels for previous films slated for release, but no new storylines have been officially announced.  

For now, Marvel has three films, and one sequel in development, with notably diverse casts. After the immense success of both “Black Panther” three years ago and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” this fall, it seems as if Marvel is guaranteed to continue producing content that represents a wider audience. Only time will tell.  

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Stylus

Your donation will support the student journalists of State University of New York at Brockport. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Stylus

Comments (0)

All The Stylus Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *