Disney’s New Cash Cow
Sony can keep Spider-Man, Disney has a new secret weapon
Photo courtesy of HenningE via Pixabay
by Leo McGarry
During the world famous San Diego Comic Con, Disney’s Marvel announced a brand new slate of superheroes and sidekicks to replace their original roster. The headline grabbing feature is that this is the most diverse gaggle of heroes yet. Featuring their first Asian superhero, deaf superhero and announcing that at long last they will significant LGBT character on screen.
Now, this may seem all well and good, worth celebrating. And it some ways it is – diversity on screen can only help broaden the horizons of the privileged and inspire minorities, at long last showing someone on screen who looks like them.
However, let’s be clear about why Disney is doing this. It isn’t out of altruism and a belief in diversity. Oh no, it’s about the money, like it always is. By announcing this plurality of identities in their new projects, they’ve got our attention. We’re talking about it, hell I’m even writing about it. Positive media coverage right away. Although I should say, I’m not getting paid by the Disney cooperation for this – that would be nice but alas.
Not only that but when it comes to the release of all these films, people of colour will flock to the screen. Desperate to see themselves on the big screen, and support the actors who represent them. This of course doesn’t take into account the white liberals who turn out in solidarity or the people who just want to see the film regardless. It’s in part an attempt to prove that diversity pays and is worth continuing. Before the release of Wonder Woman and Black Panther, there was huge encouragement from fans for people to go see the movies to make sure that the studios saw that people wanted minority superheroes.
And when I say diversity pays, it doesn’t just pay a little or give a studio cultural credit. It pays big money. Black Panther made over 1 billion dollars. It had the highest grossing opening weekend of any Marvel movie ever – until Infinity War and Endgame were released. In fact movies with all minority cast do exceedingly well as the minority which the represent comes out in support. Crazy Rich Asians and Girls Trip are just two of the examples of essentially run of the mill movies that surpass expectations thanks to minority communities. Even a hint of support for a community can have people turn out in droves. During the build up to the release of the Beauty and the Beast remake there was much insistence from some of the LGBT community that people go and support the movie because it featured Disney’s first openly gay character. Granted that character’s name is literally The Fool and its time on screen so limited, no one really noticed unless you pointed it out.
I wish that Disney – and other studios for that matter – were doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. That they too saw that diversity is an end in of itself. I wish that communities didn’t have to prove their financial worth in order to be granted equality on screen. But that’s not going to happen, so until then Disney will just keep milking minorities of all the money they can, all the while pretending to care.