Marvel Movies Expand Who Is Considered The Hero

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Tia Graham

Comics have been a mainstay for decades, stretching our imaginations and giving us hope when the world around us seems bleak.

It’s an escape that we now have the chance to experience in theaters. Over the past decade, we’ve seen the world of superhero movies become its own genre.

David Betancourt, a comedian culture journalist for the Washington Post, says comic book stories have exploded in the entertainment industry over the past decade.

“What we’re seeing right now are remnants of the Big Bang from that first ‘Avengers’ movie in 2012. The genesis point of the Marvel Cinematic Universe dates back to 2008 with the first ‘Iron Man’ movie.”

There are several movies and TV shows coming out of Marvel Studios over the next few years, which clearly shows that superheroes aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

In recent years, the diversity of superheroes at Marvel has grown steadily. In 2017, “Black Panther,” featuring the late Chadwick Boseman, Angela Bassett, and Lupita Nyong’o, was an instant hit.

“It was such a huge moment for Marvel Studios and for black people everywhere, because it represented the first time to see themselves as a superhero.” — David Betancourt, Washington Post comedy culture reporter

The film showed black heroes as more than just supporting characters, and representation extended to Iman Vellani in “Ms. Marvel,” Oscar Isaac in “Moon Knight,” and an all-Asian cast in “Shang-Chi.”

Betancourt says the Marvel movies just follow the blueprint of their original comics.

“It started with ‘Avengers: Endgame’ and giving Anthony Mackie and Captain America shields and saying, ‘You’re the next Captain America,’ which isn’t a political moment. It’s also something that happened in the comics.

CultureShift’s Tia Graham spoke with Betancourt about the golden age of superhero movies, the construction of cinematic universes and the expansion of the genre.


Listen: Betancourt talks about expanding representation in superhero movies.


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  • Tia Graham is a reporter and weekend edition host for 101.9 WDET. She graduated from Michigan State University where she had the unique privilege of covering former President Barack Obama and his trip to Lansing in 2014.

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