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How Marvel Studios' Diverse Next Phase Captures the Spirit of Stan Lee

stan lee

Representation has always been important, which is something the late Stan Lee knew. Having created such characters as the Black Panther and Jean Grey, Lee was an advocate for inclusion, even creating the famous Stan's Soapbox column to discuss social and racial ills.

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige is following Lee's example with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as the franchise's hit movies, Black Panther and Captain Marvel, are only the beginning of a more diverse slate of superhero movies for the company.

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"We're just the stewards, the current stewards, of these characters, that [Lee] and his co-creators brought together -- and all of them were created in that spirit of those Soapboxes," said Feige in an interview with The Los Angeles Times. "That was very much what Stan's worldview was, and that's what those movies represent."

Last year, Marvel set a new standard for superhero films with minority leads with Black Panther, which was both a critical and commercial success. Captain Marvel, like 2017's Wonder Woman, followed suit by featuring a strong, but human female protagonist that all moviegoers could look up to. Both films showed that Marvel wasn't afraid to put non-white, non-male heroes on the big screen.

"Because that is -- how do I put this -- it's the right way to be," Feige continued. "It is the way the world should be. And one the great things about the movies is you get to showcase the world that you want to reflect and the way you want the world to be. And that's what [Lee] did with these characters."

While Stan Lee passed away last November, his views on diversity still resonate with Marvel Studios, as the company will soon be bringing Chinese martial artist and superhero Shang-Chi to the big screen, and will reportedly feature a gay lead in the upcoming Eternals film. Much like Lee and his collaborators back in the early days of Marvel Comics, Marvel Studios is showing they're not afraid to take risks when it comes to representation in the movies.

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Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, Captain Marvel stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Jude Law as Yon-Rogg, Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson, Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser, Djimon Hounsou as Korath the Pursuer, Gemma Chan as Minn-Erva, Ben Mendelsohn as Talos, Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau, Algenis Perez Soto as Att-Lass, McKenna Grace as a young Carol Danvers and Annette Bening as the Supreme Intelligence. The movie is in theaters now.

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