If you haven’t noticed by now, it’s become apparent that in the past 3 to 4 years, Diversity in Marvel has become a major selling point of it’s main books. The drive for this was so blatant that the monolith comic book company even adapted the term “All-New, All-Different” to this fuel this change. In whole, not only were the characters moving to the front shelves new, but they also focused on the representation of marginalized people- meaning women, and people of various diverse backgrounds.
When David Gabriel, Marvel’s VP of print and sales, made the comment- “What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity,” in an interview with ICv2, the internet exploded in uproar. This implied that racially diverse and female characters were the reason for the sales decline. He then went on to insinuate that Marvel was going to go back to its “core” character base, which in the eyes of many people meant “it’s primarily white male characters.” In the initial interview, he did state that the slump may have also been attributed to “too much product,” but regardless of this fact, fans did not like this.
Some of Gabriel’s other statements were “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.” He then added, “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.”
However, Gabriel did later return to ICv2 to clarify his statements in a far more positive light. He said, “Discussed candidly by some of the retailers at the summit, we heard that some were not happy with the false abandonment of the core Marvel heroes and, contrary to what some said about characters ‘not working,’ the sticking factor and popularity for a majority of these new titles and characters like Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, The Mighty Thor, Spider-Gwen, Miles Morales, and Moon Girl, continue to prove that our fans and retailers ARE excited about these new heroes” and went on to say:
“And let me be clear, our new heroes are not going anywhere! We are proud and excited to keep introducing unique characters that reflect new voices and new experiences into the Marvel Universe and pair them with our iconic heroes.”
This sounds like Marvel is indeed trying to keep this push for diverse characters going. At the same time, they may be pushing “core” characters as well. Money is always a factor in any business, and in order to be successful, the company has to make moves that bring in money and satisfy the fanbase at the same time. So, don’t expect Pakistani-American Ms. Marvel, Super-Nanny Squirrel Girl, or Afro-Latino Miles Morales to disappear from the shelves any time soon. Diversity in Marvel isn’t going anywhere, but we will be watching closely to see what kind of impact this push for “core” makes upon the company’s content.