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Saturday, 2 May 2015

Why Are Black Male X-Men Superheroes Treated So Badly By Marvel?

For a comic book super hero franchise lauding diversity and the X-Men being signifiers of the oppressed and disadvantaged groups and communities ostracized in society, it is rather telling that the strong, male Black mutant hero has been one of the number of issues Marvel have not only overlooked, but it is also one that they have failed to tackle properly on a consistent basis. 

Whereas with The Avengers, they have no qualms making the Falcon/Captain America and Nick Fury bad - ass, integrating them into the team. It's one rule for the Avengers, and another for the X-Men. If you are going to make this occurring for one franchise, then you ought to do the same for the other franchises as well. 

So why does Marvel Comics treat the Black male superhero X-Men characters with little contempt, especially given with Storm, they did such a good job with a Black female superhero and making her a key asset to the team? Their track record with the former is undeniably poor. 

New X-Men, Vol 11, #141 (cover by Phil Jimiez) 

Bishop (see above) could have been, and ought to have been an interesting character to fill the anti-hero role left void by Wolverine after his death by making him a permanent team X-Men member. Despite the fact, he tried to kill a baby. Sadly though, with Marvel, fans saw the self-destruction of this character. Once he fell from grace, he lost everything that made him a hit in the first place. 

And what about Black Panther? He was married to Storm and I think he would have fit in well with the team & become a valuable team member.

The problem with Marvel is with the X-Men, all the non-white male Black characters are a) killed off after 2 or 3 years existence & b) written as the stereotypical 'Angry Black man', who wants vengeance against 'Whitey'. 

Jesse Bedlam, Tag, Prodigy, Maggot, Spike to name but a couple - characters who have such interesting back stories and personalities & of whom could have been potentially great characters - were shafted and/or ended up dead. 

As for Darwin, there was uproar from fans when he was killed off in X-Men: First Class, the live action Hollywood movie. But he was also killed off earlier on by Marvel in the comic book series canon story line. Other than the X-Men comics fans, nobody bat an eyelid when that happened. It was only until First Class that the audience got angry and cried racism. So you're all up in arms because the one and only character got killed off because he was Black, but you don't know how and why it happened and that it was part of the story line in the comic books, even if it was ridiculous? I beg to differ. 

To have so few key male Black superheroes in X-Men in just 30 or almost 40 years since its creation, is diabolical really. Given that Black comic book readers fans, particularly X-Men fans can relate to and understand the social struggles and issues in their search for equality and fighting prejudice and discrimination, not to mention the U.S media's recent attempts to paint young Black males, either as criminals or individuals, who end up on the news as victims of racially-motivated murders, having Black male superheroes would help shatter this myth. 

The mutant struggle is reminiscent of the civil rights movement. 

The writers are left with the option not to touch these characters again, because they were treated badly because of the writing and received terribly by the fans. 

Adding a minority character for the sake of enhancing the racial makeup of the team, is not enough: there has to be a justification or reason as to why they need to be there. Otherwise, it's like saying we have to add a Black or Asian superhero, because of their ethnicity and to fill a quota. Not because they bring something new to the team. 

But right now, and just as they have done during the past couple of years, Marvel comics are coming across as being hypocrites: hypocrites in that they say they are trying to push for more diversity, but only in franchises that a) they have the movie rights to or b) when the fandom is alive and active. That would explain why The Avengers, along with Guardians of the Galaxy are the company's poster child - and X-Men are not. Not just because of the poor sales of the comics, but because Fox currently owns the movie rights. 

The writers have little to no interest developing Black male X-Men characters properly in the long run. They believe that the Black readership of X-Men comics is tiny (which it probably is) and that the rest of them are into their other franchises more so than the X-Men. Which results in these characters being dead, de-powered, or later defect to the Inhumans or Avengers, or go solo. 

(above: former X-man Prodigy, who defected to The Avengers) 

Let's hope that we don't have to wait long for a new creator/writer who creates more Black characters, and that includes Black male comic book characters for the X-Men universe that have the staying power of Storm, and that they don't end up being treated as little more than background characters. 

The X-Men needs more minority superheroes, especially that of colour; for Marvel, that shouldn't be too difficult. They've done it a couple of times, but their failure and inconsistency to develop Black X- mutants in the long run has to change. 

There are no prominent Black male X-Men characters in the team to speak of, whatsoever & the company have made little attempts to address this problem. 

Marvel, you dropped the ball in this area .... now you need to pick it up. 

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