The D23 Disney Expo was this weekend, and among other things, it offered fans the most up-to-date look at what’s going on at Marvel Studios, which notably skipped San Diego Comic Con this year. The two big items of interest were the films Captain America 3: Civil War and Doctor Strange.
Devouring written descriptions of the Civil War footage that was shown on Saturday, I quickly became excited as it appeared my MCU faves Cap, Black Widow, Falcon, and Bucky Barnes would be leading the action in the movie. I was starting to feel fired up about the MCU in a way I hadn’t in months, but then I remembered Doctor Strange is a thing that’s happening, and I was back to square one.
The film adaptation of Doctor Strange has been a thorn in my side since it was confirmed that Benedict Cumberbatch would be the Sorcerer Supreme. I love Bandicoot Cumberbund, but with Doctor Strange, Marvel has a chance to do something interesting cinematically and cast-wise, and it’s not. For example, there was some discussion among my fellow io9 commenters the other day that Cumberbatch’s co-star Tilda Swinton could be Strange, and they wouldn’t even have to change Stephen’s gender, which is something I would love to see. Doctor Strange the character has always been a white male in the Marvel comic books, but the whole Strange mythos is so … out there, Marvel could have indeed cast a woman or especially a non-white male actor as the lead, and they didn’t.
It’s not just about Doctor Strange, though. I wrote this a full year ago, and I still think about it a lot, especially given how little Marvel Studios’ attitude about women and minorities seems to change. Time marches on, but Marvel Studios doesn’t apparently.
It’s getting harder and harder to know what to think about Marvel Studios overall, as a woman, as a feminist, as someone who enjoys seeing non-male and non-white faces in my movies. I’ve been a fan of various Marvel properties for a long time, but movies in general have always been my obsession so the MCU has become the one Marvel-owned thing I follow most closely. I haven’t always been pleased with what I see, and, in fact disappointment bubbled into pure outrage this spring over Avengers 2: Age of Ultron and its botched characterization of Black Widow.
Moreover, my entire attitude about movies changed quite a bit this year, mostly because of Mad Max: Fury Road, which is in some ways the anti-MCU film. There’s a lot I could say about Fury Road and how it affected me, but the short of it is that it opened my eyes to how women can be used in what is ostensibly an action movie and how female motivations can change an entire movie, action or otherwise. Experiencing Fury Road has made it even more difficult to go along with Marvel Studios’ weirdly anti-woman schtick.
I know that Marvel Studios’ movies and phases are planned years in advance, but it really is kind of embarrassing that there have been this many movies, and none of them have had a female solo lead. I still can’t believe its only planned female solo movie — Captain Marvel — doesn’t come out for another three years, if it even happens. Black Panther, which is supposed to come out the same year already has a star (who will cameo in Civil War!) but Captain Marvel doesn’t have anything except for a giant cloud of rumors attached to it.
Civil War does seem promising as it has Black Widow and Falcon, a woman and a black man, respectively, front and center (plus a different director than Age of Ultron, but it honestly might mark the end of my sincere interest in Marvel Studios’ big screen productions until Captain Marvel gets off the ground for real. I hated Age of Ultron, and I’m not even bothering to see Ant-Man. My enthusiasm for the MCU is waning; my attention and money are limited, and I’d much rather give them to creators that don’t make me feel guilty for supporting them.