So according to certain sources, the MCU is thinking of turning Professor X (Charles Xavier) and Magneto (Erik Lehnsherr) into people of color. While I’m all for diversity on the big screen, this might not be the best option for the MCU to take, considering how actual characters of color in the X-Men franchise have been ignored in the film series.
The core X-Men team is all white. We have Professor X, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, and Angel. Marvel Comics tried to diversify it by revealing that Bobby Drake/Iceman was always gay. However, it didn’t counter the fact that the team is still all white.
And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that, considering the time period in which this comic book superhero team was created (and even the inspiration). Also, the X-Men comics have always been a renowned leader when it comes to racial and sexual representation. So, points to the series for becoming better with time.
But the current reports about the MCU considering making Prof X and Magneto into mutants of color is what irritates me. I don’t see any reason why such a change needs to be made, because the X-Men already have a wide range of fan-favorite mutants of color to choose from.
Modifying Charles and Erik in such a manner seems like Marvel’s way of trying to address some fandom concerns (poorly). Many in the fandom aren’t happy with how FOX designed the live-action film series to be all about white mutants. Even though Storm was in the cast, she was nothing more than a background character.
So the current news makes it seem like, instead of the MCU focusing on actual mutants of color, the studio has decided to repackage Prof X and Magneto. It’s as if the MCU is saying that Prof X and Magneto are still going to be the focus of the upcoming films (or streaming content or whatever), but it won’t be too bad because this time they won’t be white!
I mean, come on!
Changing the race of white characters and then using them to (quite possibly) continue ignoring characters who were diverse from the beginning is not well-written representation.
And quite frankly, if the MCU decides to make freaking Jean Grey a WOC and still have Storm be a background character, I will riot!
Right now my mind is running such a scenario:
MCU Exec 1: We’re still writing a story focusing on Jean, right?
MCU Exec 2: Yes. But I worry about the online fandom talking about the film not being diverse enough. They keep crying about Storm deserving a bigger role.
MCU Exec 1: Nah! Don’t worry. We’ll just repackage Jean Grey. Let’s make her African-American? Perhaps even Chinese-American so we don’t have to deal with Jubilee? Or perhaps even a more diverse mix to check all the boxes? We’re already making Prof X, Magneto, and Wolverine of color.
MCU Exec 2: So, about Storm’s role?
MCU Exec 1: Jean will cover all the female diversity boxes. Don’t worry.
So, in the end, we’re still basically getting stories about white characters, but this time, differently repackaged while actual mutants of color continue playing support. This is like, in a sense, simply giving white characters a tan or a darker skin foundation job to have them still be the leads while appeasing an audience that would like to see diversity.
Again, it wouldn’t be an issue for me if the X-Men franchise didn’t already have a diverse (and well-known) cast to choose from.
I mean, I’m okay with the MCU deciding to make certain members of the Fantastic Four of color, and using them to tell some well-written stories.
Of course, the MCU’s X-Men films might focus more on actual fictional characters of color (time will tell), but the current development about Professor X and Magneto has made me cautious.
There’s also the concern about Erik’s Jewish heritage. He was born to a Jewish family and was sent to Auschwitz. It’s a major part of his backstory. Will the MCU be going the Jewish-person-of-color route with him? Are they going to erase his Jewish heritage?
Anyway, we’ll find out what the MCU plans to do with the mutants soon enough.
Feel free to share your thoughts with us.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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