Marvel: Why Heroes Like ‘Captain Marvel’ and ‘Black Panther’ Are Needed

Marvel has been delighting comic fans for decades, but it’s only since the introduction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with 2008’s Iron Man that the comics and their heroes became known to a wider audience. Ever since then, however, Marvel has dominated at the box office and become very popular among comic fans and movie fans alike. This has led to more and more Marvel movies being made, most of them very good.

However, there are some issues that fans have noted with the movies. Mainly the fact that there is only a little representation for women and people of color. These problems, however, are somewhat solved with heroes like Captain Marvel and Black Panther. These heroes give women and people of color the representation that they have been craving, while giving movie audiences a fun superhero film.

It seems like a win-win situation to us!

What were the issues in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Director Ryan Coogler and some of the Black Panther cast (Danai Gurira, Michael B. Jordan, and Lupita Nyong'o) at the Golden Globe awards
Director Ryan Coogler, Danai Gurira, Michael B. Jordan, and Lupita Nyong’o at the Golden Globe Awards | Steve Granitz/WireImage

The main issue was an issue of numbers. You see, when one or two characters needs to represent a whole group of people, it becomes difficult. Such a wide variety of experiences can never be represented fully with one or two characters. You see this with Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow in the Avengers movies. As the only female Avenger for a long time, she had to represent all women.

There’s only one problem with that: only one character can not represent an entire group of people. Though there are other female characters in Marvel movies, not all of them are heroes like Black Widow. And don’t we all want to see ourselves as heroes? This problem also plagues characters like Sam Wilson/Falcon and James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine, who are meant to represent all black people or indeed all people of color.

How do Marvel stories like ‘Captain Marvel’ and ‘Black Panther’ solve these problems?

By making movies like Captain Marvel and Black Panther, Marvel is committing to representing women and people of color in a better way. To giving these groups more characters to relate to. It is also, according to Kevin Feige in Entertainment Weekly, going to be a new era of inclusivity behind the camera as well. That will likely help any characters of this era feel more authentic to fans.

Part of this is likely due to the success of movies like Captain Marvel and Black Panther. As Feige puts it, movies like Black Panther have proven that “[representation] can only help you, can only help you tell unique stories, can only help you do things in a new, and unique, and fresh, and exciting way. If you do that, audiences will notice it, and appreciate it, and support it.”

Why do heroes like ‘Captain Marvel’ and ‘Black Panther’ matter so much?

As is mentioned before, we all want to see ourselves as heroes. Representation allows groups of people who are often misunderstood by the wider society to feel seen. It allows these groups to become empowered and feel less left out. And no one likes to feel left out.

It has been proven that representation really does matter, not only to the groups being represented but to everyone. Representation not only empowers certain groups, it affects how other people see groups that they’re not a part of. So for example, if you’re white, and you see Black Panther, it positively affects your feelings on black people, and probably people of color in general.

Stories like Captain Marvel and Black Panther are vital for representation. Hopefully, stories like them will continue to be told, so that representation is no longer a surprising thing to find in a story. So that everyone can feel like a hero.