After a successful Infinity Saga, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is now moving towards a new chapter in the form of Phase 4. The fresh installment is already introducing new heroes and villains into the mix while also strengthening the arcs of characters that fans know and love.
One of the key issues that Marvel Studios has addressed in Phase 4 is representation and diversity. This topic has been addressed numerous times by fans, critics, and even MCU mainstays themselves.
Tessa Thompson, who is set to reprise her role as Valkyrie in Thor: Love and Thunder, previously teased that Phase 4 will push for more representation, and it seems that this promise is accurate. Projects such as WandaVision and Black Widow gave the spotlight to female heroes, allowing the characters, not just its lead stars, to shine in their unique way.
This is further amplified by comments from Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. The MCU chief stressed that "representation is important across the board" in the superhero movie franchise, and it seems that the studio is only getting started.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier introduced the MCU's first Black Captain America, Loki did a deep dive into the God of Mischief's sexuality, and Eternals introduced the franchise's first deaf superhero in the form of Lauren Ridloff's Makkari.
Now, it's safe to say that the trend will continue in future projects like Thor: Love and Thunder, as evidenced by the recent comments of one of its writers.
Thor 4 Writer Pushes for More Representation
Thor: Love and Thunder writer Jennifer Kaytin Robinson sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to talk about representation within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Diving deep into the topic of real-world anxieties affecting the stories presented in superhero films, Robinson pointed out that writers should never "want to bring" an element that could mess with the movie-going experience of the audience. She admitted that "very real" forms of narrative should be at the forefront:
"You never want to bring in an element that is going to take people out of the movie. I don’t think running at topical or political stuff for the sake of it is very interesting, but there is so much you can mine when you take something very real and put it in this hyper-world."
Looking ahead to the future of the genre, the Marvel writer reflected on the fact that women and people of color are now "front and center" in superhero films while also pushing for more representation behind the camera:
"We are at a point where women and people of color are front and center. And, yes, the people onscreen look different, but what do people behind the camera look like? That’s what is most exciting to me about the future of superhero movies. I don’t think it is the superheroes, think it is the storytellers."
Diversity Needs to Take the MCU Spotlight
Robinson's latest comments should serve as a strong message of hope for the future of representation in the MCU. The writer's remark about giving the spotlight to "very real" stories is a fitting reminder of what creatives should consider when crafting their respective narratives.
The writer's comments about the genre's future are also timely, especially considering the current landscape of the MCU.
The recently-released Eternals is spearheaded by Gemma Chan's Sersi, Lauren Ridloff's Makkari, and Angelina Jolie's Thena. Meanwhile, more female heroes are also expected to join the mix, with She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel both set to debut in 2022.
Thor: Love and Thunder is no stranger to the discussions surrounding representation. Natalie Portman's Jane Foster is expected to lead the way in the sequel alongside Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie, giving the Thor franchise a new look when it comes to lead characters.
There's also a strong chance that representation will be part of Love and Thunder's narrative, allowing the writers to explore this topic through dialogue and symbolism.
Robinson's comment about the future of the genre echoed the previous remarks of Anthony Mackie about the lack of people of color behind the scenes. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier actor addressed the issue by saying that "it’s an unawareness problem," and this latest discussion should further push this topic to the limelight.
At this stage, many would agree that the future of representation is bright in the MCU, and the current trajectory points to the fact that it is here to stay.
Thor: Love and Thunder is set to premiere in theaters on July 8, 2022.