In a recent online post, Marvel Comics is blaming their poor sales on the fact that people don’t want to see diverse super heroes. But does that make any sense? Marvel’s VP of Sales, David Gabriel, stated:
“What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity. They didn’t want female characters out there. That’s what we heard, whether we believe that or not. I don’t know that that’s really true, but that’s what we saw in sales. We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against. That was difficult for us because we had a lot of fresh, new, exciting ideas that we were trying to get out and nothing new really worked.”
I find it a bit insulting that Marvel is going to blame diversity and women as the reason for the slump in sales. Indicating that it’s these new characters that people don’t want to see or read about. Which might be true, but I think they’re making a big leap when it comes to this conclusion. Why, you ask? I have always been on the equality band wagon. No matter what the “differences” may be, everyone deserves equal treatment. Society has not always been on that same wagon as me. Which is why this is so insulting. Is Marvel saying that in order for a character to be new, it has to be diverse also?
Well… sorry, Marvel, but why couldn’t these characters have existed 10 years ago? Or, why do we have to qualify the characters as “diverse”? Why aren’t they just characters? Further, the insinuation is that women make up part of this diversity. I do think that women are marginalized when it comes to employment, and have certainly had a history of being the fairer sex. But, I think in 2017, we shouldn’t be identifying women in a way that suggests they define diversity. (Note – I’ve talked about diversity in other posts, and I think it’s a slippery slope on how define people in this context. I prefer looking at it from an inclusion and equity perspective.)
Getting back to this idea that a woman super hero adds to Marvel’s diversity. This is absurd. Women make up about 49% of the world’s population. Men just over 50%. I do recognize that some people don’t identify with either gender and that’s not considered in these statistics. That aside, I think this is an absurd idea. But I think I’m getting off topic a bit. Marvel is saying that no one wants to read about diverse super heroes. Which is ironic, isn’t it? Aren’t super heroes, by nature, diverse themselves? Having unique abilities. I mean, look at the internal struggles of the X-Men. How can we say that we don’t want to read about diverse characters, when there is nothing homogeneous about these super heroes?
Don’t get me wrong. I can see the argument being made for not being drawn to new characters. Some people are creatures of habit and they like what they like. They don’t want to branch out and try a new character. I see this all the time. People stuck in rut, and can’t get out of it. Nor do they really want to get out of it, it would seem. But that’s not what Gabriel is saying. The leap Gabriel is making is from one side of a canyon to another. It’s almost like Marvel has a “quota”. (Please note, I hate this term) And maybe they’re trying to bring more readers to their comics by appealing to younger kids who can relate to these characters. I don’t see an issue with that. But lets not place blame.
There are any number of reasons for the decline in sales. Maybe people just aren’t buying the comics any more? With so many blockbuster movies, maybe we’ve lost our attention span when it comes to comics? Maybe the prices have increased? Whatever the reason, I highly doubt it has anything to do with diversity. And further to that, some of Marvel’s older characters could be considered “diverse”. So what gives? Marvel, keep in mind who your characters are. Without diversity, what would you have?