“When you’re sitting at a table, and if everybody looks like you? You’re in trouble. You’re not gonna get the best story out of that.” That’s Kevin Feige, head of all things Marvel Cinematic Universe, speaking to a crowd of film students at a New York Film Academy Q&A about the importance of representation in the MCU’s future. Feige got into the specific plans of Marvel’s commitment to inclusion — including the successes of Black Panther and Captain Marvel, the cast of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the film shooting right now with LGBTQ+ representation, and the commitment to women behind and in front of the camera.
The excellent crowd and critical responses of Captain Marvel and Black Panther were huge for Feige — not just for Marvel’s ongoing slate, but for other studios to take their cue.
Every time we do a movie, we hope it’s going to succeed so that we can make another movie. That’s always the idea. And with those two films in particular, Black Panther and Captain Marvel, we wanted to keep showcasing heroes from the comics that represent the world that goes to see our movies. So our intention was always to continue to do that. What’s exciting is that both those movies were such big hits that it squashed any sort of question otherwise, and I hope — and I think — it inspired other companies around the world to do the same thing and tell those different types of stories.
As for Marvel’s actionable plans, Feige answered a specific question about LGBTQ+ representation, stating simply that “a movie that we’re shooting right now” will make strives toward that goal. While Feige didn’t state which movie this referred to, The Eternals is currently shooting, and it has been mentioned that it will feature at least one gay character (the second openly gay character in an MCU film, after Joe Russo‘s cameo in Avengers: Endgame).
Feige also revealed that the upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, will feature “a 98% Asian cast.” He also mentioned its roots in classic genre cinema: “Shang-Chi is gonna be so much more than a Kung Fu movie. But it has elements of that, which we’re excited about.”
Finally, Feige mentioned that “both films we have coming out in 2020 are directed by women.” The aforementioned Eternals is directed by Chloé Zhao, and Black Widow is directed by Cate Shortland. Feige went on to mention that two upcoming Disney+ series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki, are directed by women. Plus, as he continued, “We’ve got three other shows that we’ve announced, but we haven’t announced the players. Spoiler alert: two out of three of them are women.”