Comics Discussions and Theory Portal to Pyro

My View On Changing Original Characters To Fit An Agenda Of Diversity & Why I Disagree With It!

For a while now I’ve seen the discussion on why it’s a great idea to change characters who were depicted as one thing, to another thing in order to fit a specific agenda. With diversity been more and more prominent and important than ever before, people want to see themselves depicted heroically or villainy. I understand where these idea comes from and, I see their point of view and why many would want that, but in my opinion I simply can’t agree with that notion.

You see, for me I’ve always said this “I’d rather have an original character, with his/her own background story and a well written plot“. I’ve never been too keen of characters  that been changed, just fill a slot for diversity. This is what caused Marvel comics to fall in terms of quality. These characters weren’t written with heart and soul, and because of that they’re just there to fill an agenda. To cash in on the demand for diversity. They’re not written to start a legacy, but to only leech off another hero’s legacy.

Now comics are no strangers when it comes to completely changing a character in order to fit the narrative when it’s needed but for the most part the identity of these characters remain the same. The have been different version of Peter Parker in the past, but it’s still Peter Parker at the end of the day.

I’ve always advocated to the creation of original characters that can stand on their own two feet without piggy-backing of the well-established comics legends. To me, it comes off as this: “A person of [Fill in blank] can’t be popular or interesting unless they use an existing, well-established hero’s name“.

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I mean it’s great for the young readers who are growing up wanting heroes or villains who look like them and can relate with them on a core bases but the overall picture is that, those characters in my opinion, they will always be seen as “blank-version of that white character”. It will always give that message of, white is the default and any variation of that is an alternative. That’s how I feel with most of these new Marvel/DC heroes and villains sometimes.

It all comes down to hiring writers, story-tellers, artist and creators of different backgrounds who are passionate about telling stories while casually creating characters of diversity without making it feel like they are there just to fill an agenda. With Black Panther and Black Lightning been received in such a positive light, it shows to me that it can be done, we just need to get the right people for the job.

Let me know what you guys think? I’m curious to see how everyone feels about this topic.

 

 

 

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4 comments

  1. It does feel too artificial to do it in the way you’re describing. Changing the ethnicity/gender of an existing character is like saying that a brand new character with that ethnicity/gender wouldn’t do well. I also think that it’s not only important to incorporate diversity, but to showcase the unique things about characters of a certain gender/disability/cultural background. Changing pre-existing characters wouldn’t do that.

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    1. Thing is, by and large, original characters DON’T do well. It’s a harsh market. Marvel made an entirely new character with Mosaic, and the book lasted only 8 issues. But they got a solid couple of years out of Sam Wilson as Captain America. (We’ll see how long his new solo lasts, now that he’s back as Falcon.)

      There’s a couple reasons we get minority replacements for classic characters. One major reason is, quite simply, to get attention. More specifically, to get attention outside the traditional comics audience. Mighty Thor, with Jane as the lead, has sold well through comic shops. But comic shops are only a part of the market now, and it’s entirely possible that the book is making even more of a killing outside the direct market. Online, through trades in book stores, through other markets. (Moon Girl is routinely cited as a book that does really well through Scholastic, as an example.)

      But there’s another big reason for replacements, and that’s To Tell A Story. Rick Remender had Sam Wilson become Captain America because he had a story in mind that he wanted to tell, and he decided that the story could only be told with Sam Wilson. Of course, he ended up leaving before he got the chance to tell that story, but still. Greg Pak has turned Amadeus Cho into the Hulk because he has a Hulk story to tell that couldn’t be told with Banner. And because Pak, as Amadeus’ co-creator, wants to tell more Amadeus stories, and a story that challenges Amadeus’ beliefs about the Hulk is a story he thought worth telling.

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      1. In Sam Wilson’s case, he didn’t come out of nowhere.

        They built him up and eased in the idea of him becoming the next Captain America. It’s more of a “passing down the mantle” type of deal with hin. I liked how they handled it with Sam. He earned that title in my opinion.

        As for the sales of comics, I’ll have to double check on that because the last time I checked, sales were lower than previous line ups.

        Moon girl is great example as you’ve mentioned here and that’s because it tells a great story, which was one of my points. As soon as I read the first chapter, I wanted to read more, not because it’s a black girl with a wicked ass t-rex, but because it told a fantastic story.

        I understand stand that the writers are switching characters because of the need for attention but I really can’t vibe with it. It’s true that original characters will have a difficult time with their own line up but I still prefer that to the reskins. That’s just my opinion. A legacy is better than temporary fame. Not sure if fame is the right word here but I hope you get what I’m trying to say.

        Thank you for sharing your point of view on this subject.

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