Marvel’s Black Panther made a ton of money and won a bunch of awards. Ever since then, Marvel has been open to the idea of branching out from their core team of overwhelmingly white superheroes. Marvel is about to release The Eternals, which features a diverse cast and the first gay superhero. Marvel has also promised more gay characters, including a possible trans character (although we shouldn’t hold our breath for that). But while Marvel may be patting themselves on the back for being about 600% more diverse than the average DC superhero movie, they probably shouldn’t pat for too long, at least not according to Anthony Mackie.
Anthony has played Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: End Game. He also plays Falcon on the upcoming Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Anthony got into his extensive Marvel experience with Daveed Diggs during a recent interview for Variety’s Actors-on-Actors issue. The conversation around Marvel’s diversity feet-dragging started after Daveed asked Anthony how he’s “interacting with the moment” (aka the ongoing conversation about the Black Lives Matter movement as it relates to representation in media). Anthony says that he has gotten to the point of having enough power, as the lead of a series, to ask questions about representation. Like, why is it that any perceived diversity only appears onscreen?
“It really bothered me that I’ve done seven Marvel movies where every producer, every director, every stunt person, every costume designer, every PA, every single person has been white.”
So according to Anthony, when Marvel’s decision-makers get ready to make a movie, they’re like, “Avengers, assemble!…as many white SAG and IASTE members as you can.” And it’s not like Marvel doesn’t know Black crew members exist, because they found them and hired them for Black Panther.
“We’ve had one Black producer; his name was Nate Moore. He produced Black Panther. But then when you do Black Panther, you have a Black director, Black producer, a Black costume designer, a Black stunt choreographer. And I’m like, that’s more racist than anything else. Because if you only can hire the Black people for the Black movie, are you saying they’re not good enough when you have a mostly white cast?”
Anthony also wants to see Marvel hire the best people for the job, without worrying if they’ve added too much diversity.
“My big push with Marvel is hire the best person for the job. Even if it means we’re going to get the best two women, we’re going to get the best two men. Fine. I’m cool with those numbers for the next 10 years. Because it starts to build a new generation of people who can put something on their résumé to get them other jobs. If we’ve got to divvy out as a percentage, divvy it out. And that’s something as leading men that we can go in and push for.”
“But we are diverse! We’ve Scarlett Johansson, what more do you want?“- Marvel executives.
Back to that revelation that everyone behind the camera on all those Marvel movies allegedly remains white. What is the point of that? It’s important to remember that these are movies in which people in costumes jump around and fly and fight CGI bad guys with explosions and yelling. So why wasn’t Marvel hiring more non-white crew members for their non-Black Panther movies? Once is just Hollywood being Hollywood. Twice is a coincidence. Three, four, five, six times is a Hulk-sized choice. Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure anyone of any race or background can ask the question, “So, am I lighting Thor’s abs or his ass?”
You can watch their whole interview below, but Anthony’s conversation about Marvel diversity starts at the 16:50 mark.