Dear Fanboys, a Diverse, Female-Led Marvel Animated Series Is Not About ‘SJWs’ and ‘PC’ Culture

This article is over 6 years old and may contain outdated information
Recommended Videos

Marvel answered many fans’ prayers when they announced Marvel Rising, an animated franchise that will feature some of our most beloved female and diverse superheroes. Shockingly (not shocked), the blowback was swift, harsh and mean from the subset of comics fans that reacts to anything like change with attacks and the sound of a distant fit being thrown.

“The next generation of Marvel heroes is here,” Marvel titled their Marvel Rising post on Facebook, showing off a teaser for the first animated film, Secret Warriors, which is comprised of some of the comics’ most popular and breakout characters: Captain Marvel, America Chavez, Squirrel Girl, Patriot, Spider-Gwen (as Ghost Spider), Quake, Inferno, and Exile.

There will be digital shorts featuring Spider-Gwen rocking this “Ghost Spider” moniker prior to Secret Warriors‘ release, and as a whole Marvel Rising comprises, according to Buzzfeed,a new multi-platform animated franchise set to launch in 2018.”

For many of us, the Marvel Rising roster reads like a mad fever dream of our favorite heroes that we never imagined would get so much attention and a high-profile opportunity, let alone together. And incredibly, it seems like Marvel listened to the rallying cries for better representation, extending this care into the voice actors’ casting. As Slashfilm notes, “in an even greater bid for diversity, the vast majority of the actors voicing them are also people of color — including some familiar Marvel TV faces.”

But as our commenter Timothy Renzi pointed out, almost immediately, the backlash began on Marvel’s social media announcements. While there was a huge outpouring of enthusiasm about the project, with many excited to see their favorite characters and thrilled about the casting choices (especially Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Ming-Na Wen as the villain Hala, Chloe Bennet voicing Daisy Johnson/Quake, and Teen Wolf‘s Tyler Posey as Inferno), some of the top-voted and debated comments proceed as follows. Because we can never have nice things.

This is an impressive start out the gate, as this comment manages to hit “SJW,” “diversity,” and “virtue-signaling,” with the player clearly trying to score a BINGO on their angry white male privilege card:

Sometimes these comments are so exceptionally composed I could almost believe them to be satire:

I, too, am shaking my damn head:

They’re onto us!!! What will become now of our dastardly plans for feminist domination? I printed all these propaganda flyers …

Moving right along:

Have you … have you ever actually read a Marvel comic, bro?

Girl superheroes are only for girls and they mostly concern rainbows and lollypops. You know, girl things.

It intrigues me how often “anti-PC” Internet comments include the phrase “shoving it down our throats” on a whole variety of subjects. It’s become a shorthand: see something you don’t immediately agree with and suddenly it’s being forcibly rammed down your gullet. Weird.

Stop FAILING, Marvel! At this rate, you’re never going to be a contender.

Over on Marvel’s twitter, the deeply nuanced and thoughtful dialogue on the nature of inclusion and representation continued:

Cool plan for definitely giving something an unbiased chance:

I also hate politically correct characters, preferring characters that have never been politically correct, like CAPTAIN AMERICA:

I don’t like this thing that doesn’t appear to be about me, so it’s bad!

And now for something completely different:

My guy … you do not get to drag Spider Jerusalem into this.

Be more like chillmarvelite:

I mean, part of me totally understands some of these fans’ knee-jerk, fearful reaction: it’s quite scary not to see yourself reflected in popular media. But I wish they would imagine what it’s like for that to be your default state, as it is for so many of us.

What’s refreshing to witness is how many people, of many different backgrounds, were quick to rush in and fight the naysayers on the Marvel Rising threads. But it’s dispiriting how we have to go through this every single time that Marvel or DC does something that’s not specifically aimed at a certain demographic that thinks they are single-handedly keeping the comics industry afloat and feel threatened to see changes in their titles and other media. I have to admit that of all mediums, it always confuses me to see comics fans go into an SJW-attacking, yelling about diversity virtue-signaling rage.

Comics have, from their inception, been about mercurial, often ostracized characters who die, come back, change their identities, change their minds, pass on their mantles. And superhero comics have, from their inception, been about fighting authoritarianism, challenging the status quo, shining a blinding light on racism, antisemitism, sexism—and allowing our heroes to literally punch avatars of these evils in the face.

Superheroes exist to make the world a better place for everyone. Maybe before you start a rant about feminist agendas or companies capitulating to demands for social justice and greater diversity, you should stop and ask yourself what your favorite hero whose legacy you think you’re defending would have to say to you on the subject.

Ultimately, however, Marvel Rising is much bigger than the current culture wars adults are mired in. It’s intended for the next generation. These are the superheroes they’re going to see and love on-screen as they grow up, and that’s so important that it cancels out all of the rest of our noise.

(image: Marvel Comics)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—


The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.