Thor. Iron Man. Hulk. Captain America. What do these characters have in common? They're all superheroes. They are all interesting, multi-faceted characters. They all star in their own movies. Oh, and they're all white dudes.
io9 recently had a great article on the lack of women in Marvel's toys and merchandise. A valid concern! But their thesis - that the lack of merchandising is despite a strong roster of female characters - seems like, well, bullshit. As far as I recall, there has yet to be a single female superhero across the MCU. Black Widow? Gamora? Peggy Carter? All cool characters, and all secondary roles. Back ups. None have helmed a film, none have an iconic costume, none have one single power. They're all basic love interests, and frankly, they suck. People see superhero movies for the superheroes, not the normal-people-vaguely-adjacent-to-superheroes. Every single hero in the MCU has been a white male. Yes, that is slowly, painfully, changing - but let's be real here, we're seven years into the MCU, and we've yet to get a single hero who's a woman, racial majority, or from anywhere that's not America. That's fucking pathetic.
Old-fashioned ideas of markets and marketability? The legacy of characters designed in the dark ages of post-war America? The fact that Disney's senior leadership is 100% white and 75% male? Plain old bigotry? Yeah, probably some of all of those, and it's a mix that's too dense to unpack here. But the Marvel movies are huge international sensations, with appeal across demographics. White men only make up 8% of the world's population, yet make up 100% of the the superpowered heroes in the MCU. Every. Single. One. As a member of the other 6,362,720,000 human beings on the planet, I think that toys are the least of the problem.
Aside: anyone know how you get posting privileges on oDeck? I'm mainly an io9 lurker, but I'd love to see what the community there thought.