My three year old daughter is a fan of superheroes. She actually likes a lot of things, including Legos, princesses, ponies, and cars. However, she really enjoys pretending to be a superhero (Camilla Kid) and playing with superhero toys. She found an old Marvel Encyclopedia that she took such a liking to, it became something we read everyday for almost a month. Her knowledge of the Marvel Universe has become impressive for a three year old. My daughter also chose to have two superhero themed birthday parties. She even seems to have influenced some of the girls in her class to sometimes put on capes instead of princess dresses during free play at her school. I'm not a huge fan of princesses, because the majority of them need to be saved in their stories. So, I am somewhat pleased that she likes to portray a hero, someone who proactively saves the day. My daughter creates a variety of situations in which she protects people, saves POTUS, and aids her fellow heroes. It's fun to watch and be a part of this imaginative play.
Although she really likes characters such as DC's Wonder Woman and Batman, she has become a bigger fan of Marvel characters. Marvel is not perfect. No company or organization is. I am certainly not pleased at their lack (actually absence) of superhero themed apparel for young girls, since my daughter would like to wear a Storm shirt. I'm not the only one who thinks this. The first thing my daughter said upon viewing a Target Avengers commercial was, "Where's Black Widow?" Marvel needs to seriously stop taking the female members of the Avengers off of children's apparel and toys. They really messed up with a cover of a Spider Woman issue. And, then there was this. It would also be nice if there were more practical, less provocative superhero outfits for some of their female heroes. Thanks to Joss Whedon for updating Scarlet Witch's costume in Avengers: Age of Ultron from the old red swimsuit comic version. But, Marvel was important to me as a young child because it was the only place where I saw heroic Black faces like Storm and Black Panther in pop culture. Wakanda, the fictional homeland of the Black Panther, is the most technologically advanced country in the world. Their culture and storyline is unmatched in pop culture. To this day, I am thankful to my mother for introducing me to this world. I have truly enjoyed sharing aspects of Marvel's storied history with my daughter.
Presently, some of the iconic characters in Marvel lore have made some big changes. Captain America is now Black, as Sam Wilson, The Falcon, has taken over the mantle. There is a Spider-Man, Miles Morales, who is Latino and Black. Thor is currently a woman. The current Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, is a Pakastani-American who also happens to be Muslim. The co-creator of the new Ms. Marvel, Sana Amanat, has moved up to become Marvel Comics' Director of Content and Character Development. Marvel has two television/Netflix shows one current (Agent Carter), one upcoming (Jessica Jones), that will feature female leads. Another current show, Agents of SHIELD is racially diverse in its cast and guest stars. There will finally be a Marvel film featuring a female superhero, Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel. They have an upcoming show (Luke Cage) and an upcoming film (Black Panther!) that will star Black men. Marvel will have a new comic book team, A-Force, a group of female Avengers. "It’s not Marvel’s first all-female team, or even the only one they have right now—X-Men, also by G. Willow Wilson, with art by Roland Boschi, focuses on a core cast of women. There’s also over a dozen other female-led titles, all great series ranging in tone and style from Captain Marvel to Storm to The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl."
This is meaningful progress. I am excited about the continued growth of Marvel. I hope they will continue to evolve and to share the voices of the marginalized and underrepresented while also creating fully developed characters. I hope more women and people of color will continue to be involved in their creative process. And I really hope they will make even more heroes that my daughter might enjoy and want to integrate into her play. Just remember Marvel . . . The Brown Gothamite and Camilla Kid are watching!