Opinion Edition

Marvel Needs to add Non-Stereotype Asian Characters

First off let me say, I am a huge Marvel fan as most of us are, but this issue is very bothersome and I wanted to hear other opinions. Lately I’ve noticed the lack of diversity in more of the recent Marvel movies. Black Panther was amazing and it’s about time we had an all Black cast, however we are still behind with other ethnicities. Being half Asian, it’s upsetting to read articles about White actors and actresses getting casted over actually talented Asian actors and actresses.

Marvel has had a great track record with their movies with their average rating on rotten tomatoes being an 80%. I’ve been watching Marvel movies for the past 4 years now, Guardians of the Galaxy was the first Marvel movie I watched. The second one I watched was Avengers and then Antman. Since then I’ve watched almost every Marvel movie. I didn’t really notice anything in the beginning, but after being a dedicated fan going to the first showing of each new Marvel movie I started to become more aware with the lack of diversity Marvel refuses to show for some odd reason.

Although I love Marvel movies and have grown to become a part of the fandom, I can’t overlook the fact that there are no lead Asian characters. I’m not saying there needs to be an Asian superhero, although that would be AWESOME! However I’ve noticed out of all the Marvel movies I’ve watched there have only been 5 Asian support characters with only one who didn’t have any stereotypes attached…not yet anyways. After looking into how many Asian characters Marvel actual has I learned there are actually a few more than I was aware, but I haven’t seen these characters in movies yet nor have I heard anything significant to include them.

The five characters are Mantis from Guardians of the Galaxy volume 2 played by Pom Klementieff. The taxi driver from Deadpool, Dopinder, who is played by Karan Soni. The monk and protector, Wong, in Doctor Strange played by Benedict Wong. Spiderman’s best friend, Ned, played by Jacob Batalon. Yukio from Deadpool 2 who is played by Shiori (sometimes spelt Shioli) Kutsuna. These are all the actual characters that have been featured so far at least in the films I’ve seen.

Before going into depth with all of the Asian characters, I’d like to mention the one White washed character in Doctor Strange which brought up controversial issues in the past. The Ancient One who is played by Tilda Swinton, when in the comics the ancient one is actually an Asian man. She received so much backlash for accepting the role and how she played the role. To be honest, I didn’t think that much of it when I watched the movie because it’s just typical Hollywood. After learning there were Asian actors up for the part, I was upset because it’s so upsetting to hear that Hollywood refuses to see “Male Asian actors” that would suit the part???? Like are there not enough Asian men and women out there trying to make a name for themselves as well???? Hello?!?!?!

Now onto the Asian characters Marvel has featured in there movies,

*SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THESE MOVIES CLICK OUT NOW*

First off with Mantis from Guardians of the Galaxy volume 2. Mantis is introduced as a “servant” but we come to learn later that she’s a slave being held captive for her powers. Since she’s a slave her main source of knowledge is from her “master” and her portrayal in the movie is she doesn’t understand the depth behind emotions and isn’t very intelligent. She is seen as an airhead which Drax constantly makes fun of. From looks to her lines she’s just your typical Asian character, pretty but dumb.

Secondly, Dopinder, in Deadpool and Deadpool 2 who is a cab driver with an Indian accent. This character was talking about marriages, being low class, driving a cab and having nothing better to do than to follow Deadpool around. Like really? Come on now, people in New York don’t have time to be following others around for pleasure especially cab drivers. New York is an expensive place to live, sure it’s part of the script but it’s offensive. Throughout both movies, Dopinder is belittled and pushed aside when really he should be taken seriously with what he confides to Deadpool with. He talks about not being worth anything and how he wants to die along his disturbing plans.

Positive Asian Characters in Marvel

Ned Leeds, is Spiderman’s best friend in the most recent Spiderman movie played by Jacob Batalon. Ned was very charismatic and I loved that they had a slightly darker Asian actor with an average body type since it’s not often shown in teen movies. He was pushed to the side a little bit in the movie, but he did have a lead support role and he wasn’t your typical Asian character who was dumb or very noticeably smart. He was smart, but that didn’t take away or add anything to the stereotype in his character nor was it emphasized. Ned and Peter were the closest thing to equals that I’ve seen throughout all the Marvel movies which have featured an Asian character.

Wong from Doctor Strange who was played by Benedict Wong. Wong is a monk who ends up becoming friends with Doctor Strange and essentially is one of his main allies. Wong is book and street smart, tough, and a badass. He didn’t really have any stereotypes attached to him. However for the movie Doctor Strange to feature Asian teachings they didn’t have much of an Asian cast. There was less than 10 people who actually played an extra and spoke whom were featured in the film.

Yukio, from Deadpool 2 played by Shiori (sometimes spelt Shioli) Kutsuna. This character is the first LGBT+ character to be introduced to Marvel which was a cool idea, but I found it EXTREMELY forced because there was no background on her or her relationship with Negasonic Teenage Warhead. She says maybe 10 words maximum in the whole film. On the plus side Marvel featured a female Asian character in the Deadpool film, but I didn’t find her necessary since she didn’t have an impact on the film at all. With the lack of backstory and no lines the film would’ve been the same without her in my opinion. Marvel had so much they could have done for introducing Negasonic Teenage Warhead’s girlfriend and confirming her sexuality. I’m hoping she has more of a story and a good story for the next movie if she’s in the next Deadpool movie.

None of these characters have lead roles, or major supporting roles except for one although many of these characters have the same role. Most of these actors which I mentioned earlier have since been casted in bigger leads on known networks, but since those shows and movies haven’t been released yet I can’t say if they’re still portraying stereotypical Asian characters and being type-casted.

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I’ve seen there’s only ever one Asian character in each movie. What is with the lack of diversity? How hard is it to hire Asian actors and actresses as extras? I follow a few Asian youtubers who are trying to pursue acting and have not been able to make it because of lack of opportunity. We all know Hollywood is racist and with all of the hashtags, articles and interviews not much has changed causing these actors to change professions or to create their own content to get noticed. I think it’s a shame that Asians are not being casted for roles that are needed so children can grow up seeing themselves on television and to have role models to look up to, not only that but so people can actually be successful in a field they’ve chosen and are dedicated to.

Overall, I’m hoping this changes in the future with more Marvel movies lining up especially since a new universe is in the works and it’s starting off with children. I would love to see a real diverse generation in the movie with really cool backgrounds instead of your classic dumb and smart pretty Asian female characters or weak Asian male characters.

4 Comments

  • Paolo

    Totally agree. Not marvel though but Hollywood in general doesn’t have many movies with non stereotype Asian leads. Think it all has to do with money really. It’s a shame, times changing though I think they’ll come around. Least I hope!

    • DeannaSStilwell

      I agree Hollywood should change and I’m hoping within a few years!!! Hoping to see more Asian actors on screen with decent parts.

  • Shana Bergsma

    ” I’m not saying there needs to be an Asian superhero, although that would be AWESOME!” – I think there absolutely should be an Asian superhero and it’s great that you’ve brought up to people’s attention. The Asian market is the biggest in the world so for Marvel to not have this they’re actually missing out big time!

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