Concerns that the multicultural characters of Marvel Comics’ Runaways would become slightly more white in their upcoming movie incarnations have been lessened after Marvel Studios released a statement assuring worried fans, and updated casting notices to ensure that their intentions were good. How did this happen?
Well, it started when Racebending – A website set up by fans upset at the casting of the live-action The Last Airbender movie, wherein white actors played characters originally of different ethnicities – noticed at the beginning of this month that casting notices failed to mention that lead character Nico Minoru was Asian-American. As the site pointed out, this was more of a problem than it may sound:
A Hollywood agent trawling casting breakdowns for an Asian American client would not likely stumble upon this role that is tailor-made for an Asian American breakout star. It certainly doesn’t sound like Marvel is prioritizing actresses of color in this search. And readers of racebending.com know that just recently, unclear and biased casting calls for The Last Airbender led to the erasure of characters’ ethnicities and reinforced Hollywood’s glass ceilings for lead roles.
Somewhat surprisingly, when contacted by the site, Marvel Studios listened; Nico’s casting notice was revised to specify Asian-American actresses, and the studio released the following statement in response:
To address your concern over casting for the role of Nico, as we do with all of our films, we intend to stay true to the legacy and story of the comic when casting these parts. Thus, our goal is to cast an Asian American actress as depicted in the comic series and the casting notice will be adjusted accordingly.
Whether this was simply correcting an earlier oversight or a genuine change brought on by Racebending’s complaint, this is a smart move for Marvel – It makes them look more responsive to fan concerns, and also neatly sidesteps any controversy similar to the Airbender race discussions, which gave the movie a lot of bad press before anyone had even seen a frame of it. Of course, the question remains, will Karolina still be a lesbian by the time the Disney/Marvel movie reaches theaters…
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