Marvel executive says emphasis on diversity seems to have alienated readers as sales decline with stores reporting that customers ‘have had enough’ of new female and ethnic minority characters.
DUST, MS. MARVEL, GREEN LANTERN, AND NIGHTRUNNER (L TO R) REPRESENT A NEW AGE OF MUSLIM SUPERHEROES
The Guardian Marvel’s vice president of sales has blamed declining comic-book sales on the studio’s efforts to increase diversity and female characters, saying that readers “were turning their noses up” at diversity and “didn’t want female characters out there”.
Over recent years, Marvel has made efforts to include more diverse and more female characters, introducing new iterations of fan favourites including a female Thor; Riri Williams, a black teenager who took over the Iron Man storyline as Ironheart; Miles Morales, a biracial Spider-Man and Kamala Khan, a Muslim teenage girl who is the current Ms Marvel.
Retailers had told him that fans were sticking to old favorites. “What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity,” he said. “They didn’t want female characters (especially Muslim females) out there. That’s what we heard, whether we believe that or not.”
LEFT WINGdiversity advocates hailed the new characters as are proof that heroes don’t need to come in the same packages to be legendary. That’s why Muslim heroes in comics, particularly in modern times, are so important. For a country with citizens that too often espouse anti-Muslim sentiment, these characters aren’t just nice; they’re necessary. The more comic publishers big and small include them, the more familiar they’ll become to readers — and the more comfortable Americans will become with real Muslim people, too.
Apparently, declining sales are proof that Americans aren’t comfortable with Muslim superheroes.
FOOLIn 2002, Marvel introduced Dust, a female Muslim superhero born in Afghanistan with the power to transform her body into a cloud of sand-like dust. Dust, also known as Sooraya Qadir, dons a traditional niqab as her costume and refuses to renounce her religion, despite pressure from some of her fellow X-Men.
In 2011, DC introduced Bilal Asselah, also known as Nightrunner, an Algerian Sunni Muslim French citizen who becomes “The Batman of France.”
Nightrunner’s introduction notably highlighted the social problems in the Muslim eastern suburb of Paris, Clichy-sous-Bois, the epicenter of the race and class discrimination-driven riots that swept through France in late 2005. Muslim youths began rioting in Paris and other cities, burning thousands of cars and several buildings.
In 2014, Marvel reimagined Ms. Marvel, one of its classic characters — a blond military pilot who became a flying, bullet-proof heroine through an alien accident — into a Pakistani-American teenage girl named Kamala Khan. The origin story of the new Ms. Marvel highlights the clash of cultures that the children of immigrants experience — of growing up American in a conservative family environment rooted in older traditions.
Simon Baz is a Lebanese-American and the first Muslim member of the Green Lantern Corps, an extraterrestrial police force. He first appeared in 2012, and was chosen as the new Green Lantern of the Earth’s sector after his predecessor, Hal Jordan, quit. His backstory includes being born in Dearborn, Michigan, and being persecuted for his ethnicity, much like today’s America.
If Josiah al hajj Saddiq looks familiar, it’s probably the star on his chest. Born Isaiah Bradley, he was tested with a variant on the Super-Soldier Serum regimen used on Captain America himself, Steve Rogers. He converted to Islam and made pilgrimage to Mecca, taking the name Josiah. Eventually, Justice hung up his shield, instead becoming a Muslim imam in Brooklyn.
The new Green Lantern is a Muslim-American who wears an Arabic tattoo on the same arm as his power ring.