Nov 10, 2022 - Economy

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is finally getting more diverse

Illustration of Marvel Cinematic Universe characters drawn on a poster against a brick wall, with graffiti of a percentage symbol and a bar chart surrounding it.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe — one of the biggest institutions in popular culture — is finally starting to reflect the diversity of its real-world fans.

The big picture: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which premieres today, will be the first-ever Marvel movie with a Black woman lead.

  • From the beginning of the MCU in 2008, all the way through the release of “Black Panther” in 2018, every Marvel movie had a white man as its main character.
  • But “Black Panther” was a true tipping point: Eleven of the 16 Marvel movies released since then (setting aside ensemble casts) have had a woman or a person of color at the center.
Data: Axios research; Chart: Will Chase and Nicki Camberg/Axios
Data: Axios research; Chart: Will Chase and Nicki Camberg/Axios

The bottom line: Marvel is as big as it gets. The films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have earned a total of more than $22 billion at the box office, plus billions more in merchandising, and spawned a global legion of hardcore fandom.

  • “It matters to be truly seen, to be heard in your authentic voice, and for stories to incorporate diverse perspectives for richer and more impactful narratives,” said Kevin Strait, museum curator at the National Museum of African American History & Culture.

Go deeper: Axios’ blockbuster visuals team has put together a gorgeous project that tracks the MCU’s evolution, and the growing diversity within the franchise.

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