A Marvel exec just blamed too much diversity for poor sales and, give us a sec, because our blood is boiling
Marvel movies are having a moment right now. With all of the Captain Americas and Iron Mans, not to mention the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming and Black Panther movies, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has taken over the box office.
But, apparently, the comics aren’t doing as well as Marvel execs would like — and now one Marvel VP is blaming diversity for their slow sales. We have just one thing to say to that.
Are you f#@*ing kidding us?
According to io9, VP of Sales David Gabriel spoke with ICv2 about the “market shift” and what that’s meant for comic sales. And what he said was pretty screwed up.
It started when ICv2 asked about how things changed for the industry in October, which they followed up with a question about why consumer’s tastes had changed.
Here’s what Gabriel had to say.
"What we heard was that people didn't want any more diversity. They didn't want female characters out there. That's what we heard, whether we believe that or not. I don't know that that's really true, but that's what we saw in sales. We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against. That was difficult for us because we had a lot of fresh, new, exciting ideas that we were trying to get out and nothing new really worked."
Okay, before we get too worked up, let’s gave Gabriel some credit. As we saw last year with the new female-lead Ghostbusters, sexism did come into play. Old-school fans (and misogynists) even called for boycotts of the movie and made the Ghostbusters trailer the most disliked trailer on YouTube — ever.
So we guess it’s possible that some fans turned up their nose at more diverse characters and heroes.
And in a clarification he made to the site later, he explained that a lack of fan interest didn’t indicate a lack of artist interest.
"Discussed candidly by some of the retailers at the summit, we heard that some were not happy with the false abandonment of the core Marvel heroes and, contrary to what some said about characters 'not working,' the sticking factor and popularity for a majority of these new titles and characters like Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, The Mighty Thor, Spider-Gwen, Miles Morales, and Moon Girl, continue to prove that our fans and retailers ARE excited about these new heroes. And let me be clear, our new heroes are not going anywhere! We are proud and excited to keep introducing unique characters that reflect new voices and new experiences into the Marvel Universe and pair them with our iconic heroes."
But as io9 points out, it’s still uncool that Gabriel pointed the finger at diversity instead of considering other factors.
In a pretty comprehensive breakdown of the circumstances, Gizmodo explores other causes of Marvel’s “sales slump.” They cite the “crazy over-abundance of events and crossovers… [which] make it hard for fans to focus” as well as rising issue costs that in some cases have almost doubled or even tripled. They also cite a loss of talent as artists and writers are given more creative control at companies like Image where they can run their own books.
We can’t help but wonder if recent controversies like reframing nazi-punching Captain America as a Hydra agent and the canonically Holocaust survivor Magneto joining Hydra also came into play. A lot of people were pretty upset, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see moves like those turn people off the brand.
Unfortunately, diversity taking the blame for poor performance is something we have to worry about all too often.
With Ghost in the Shell hitting the box office this weekend, we have to wonder if a possible poor performance will lessen whitewashing in the future. Or if, instead, execs will blame low turnout on the fact that it’s a female-fronted action movie.
We’re glad that Gabriel and Marvel aren’t letting slow sales discourage them from focusing on a variety of casts of characters. We just wish they wouldn’t automatically blame diversity in the first place.