Kevin Feige talks Marvel diversity in Spider-Man: Homecoming and beyond

In the years since Marvel first started its cinematic universe, its cast of characters has grown increasingly diverse.

This is no coincidence, as Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has explained ahead of the US release ‘Doctor Strange’ - a film that has proved controversial because of its casting decisions.

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“I think that in the movies we’ve already made, and certainly in the movies that are coming up, it will be as inclusive a group of characters as one could want,” Feige told Vulture.

He pointed to next year’s 'Spider-Man: Homecoming’ and its cast of young High School characters as a shining example of the diversity Marvel now seeks.

“Our filmmaker came in and had pictures of real high schools, and they are as diverse as you could imagine,” said Feige. “That was something that was important to us, to set it apart from other Spidey films that have been made — to carve that niche — and to have it represent the world today.”

Tom Holland’s Peter Parker will attend a Queens high school alongside actors including Donald Glover, Tony Revolori, Jacob Batalon and Laura Harrier, who plays a potential love interest.

Zendaya plays another potential love interest, one who is rumoured to be Mary-Jane Watson. If this is the case, it will be the latest example of Marvel swapping the race or gender of a comic book character.

With 'Doctor Strange’, Marvel courted controversy when it cast white actress Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, who was portrayed in the comics as an Asian man.

In the same film however, Marvel also cast Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo - a character who was originally white - and completely changed the role of Benedict Wong’s Wong - whose character in the comics was a sub-servant stereotype.

This is due to often-dated depiction of certain ethnicities in the source material, with many characters created in the 60s, and the more inclusive nature of modern society.

“For us, it’s important that we don’t feel like a completely white, European cast,” said Feige. “It’s definitely important to us, that these movies reflect the world.”

During Phase One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Avengers were white with the exception of Samuel L Jackson’s leader Nick Fury. In the years since, Don Cheadle’s War Machine, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther and Anthony Mackie’s Falcon have all entered the fold.

In the year ahead, Zoe Saldana returns as 'Guardians of the Galaxy’ heroine Gamora, there’s 'Spider-Man: Homecoming’ and in 'Thor: Ragnarok’ Tessa Thompson plays Valkyrie, another character who was originally white.

Picture Credits: Marvel Studios