Diversity Aboveground: A-Force Dope

There she is, Miss America!

Earlier this year, Marvel promised that their Secret Wars event would bring more females to the forefront and add more diversity of all kinds to the various series. With that event well underway, it’s time to see if Marvel was true to their word.

Just looking at the covers of this week’s new releases look a little promising. Seven of the sixteen covers have females so that’s almost half except only two of those covers are people of color. However, it’s what’s inside that counts, right?

Quite a few of the more popular Marvel series were created, written and/or have artwork done by a minority like 1602: Witch Hunter Angela, A-Force, Ant-Man: Larger than Life, Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps, Ms. Marvel, Runaways, Silk, Spider-Gwen and the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.

Yes, the increase of female presence at Marvel does show in its issues. A-Force takes place on an island called Arcadia with no men. Thus, the females have taken control like Themiscyra, the ODY-C or Amazonia. With only two men present in the entire comic, the first issue had plenty of discussions and scenes between females. There is even the intriguing notion of a wholly female Loki who adopted both Nico Minoru and America Chavez as her wards. In keeping with the last appearance of the previous all female team, the Lady Liberators, Jennifer Walters leads the A-Force but Secret Wars Journal #1 and Battleworld: Runaways also feature groups lead by Kate Bishop and Jubilation Lee.The original Runaways was almost an all female team and the new line-up with well-known males like Amadeus Cho and Tyrone was a little worrying. The doubt wasn’t needed as the males simply further the females plot in the first issue.

Sam Wilson as Thor

However, there are improvements to consider. While it’s awesome to have Sam Wilson as Falcon, Captain America and Thor, you can’t have one person representing their whole race.  In a 2006 Young Avengers issue when Peter Parker was surprised at Luke Cage knowing the name of a very minor superhero, Cage responded, “You think there are so many Black super heroes running around that I can’t remember their names?” Almost ten years later, his retort is still valid. Even Cage is suspiciously absent although a new series of him and Jessica Jones will probably coincide with the new Netflix series due before the end of the year. Danielle Cage, their daughter, is Captain America in the series, Ultron Forever and Tyrone aka Dagger is in Battleworld: Runaways with Cloak. It’s pretty amazing to have Jubliee and Cho in the same comic, but with readers expecting the story to revolve around the females, only time will tell how the males fare in future issues. Chavez is seemingly fridged in her first issue which leaves Sam Alexander and Miles Morales as the lone Hispanics but Chavez will reappear in the July series, Siege. Billy Kaplan and Teddy Altman continue to be used sporadically and don’t have a new series to call their own, but Kamala Khan continues to be upgraded as more and more important including an animated appearance this fall on Disney XD. Now, if we could just get these characters on the movie screen…

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The cast of Dope

In the midst of all those summer blockbusters and cinematic explosions is a little film called Dope, written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa.

Famuyiwa is the American son of Nigerian immigrants and this struggle for identity really shows in the main character of Malcolm Adekanbi (Shameik Moore). Malcolm struggles with the expectations placed on him by society since he’s being raised by a single mother in the projects. Obviously, he should be selling drugs, carrying a gun at all times and being promiscuous. In reality, he’s a geek whose favorite television show is Game of Thrones and he’s in a band instead of being a rapper. As he explains at one point, “I’m into white people stuff.”

Twists of fate and a beautiful woman…because it’s always a beautiful woman, right?…cause Malcolm to briefly become exactly what society sees him as and he learns more about himself in the process as well as how to use society to his advantage.

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A film like this could easily become full of female stereotypes, but like Harold & Kumar go to White Castle, it allows a variety of women to be shown. It even surpasses that film by allowing a female character to be part of the process. Malcolm’s best friends are Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) and Jib (Tony Revolori). Diggy is a lesbian who’s comfortable joking about the possibility of Malcolm getting laid. Jib doesn’t get as much to do but it’s nice seeing Revolori continuing to work after his break-through performance in The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Awreeoh

Yes, Dope is a comedy. Along with the serious parts are some awesome one-liners that you’ll want to quote later and some scenes that are hilarious. Plus, the music includes some of the best from the ’90s as well as four new songs by Pharrell Williams.

Go see it. In keeping with the movie’s plot where the characters accept bitcoin for purchases, you can even use bitcoin to purchase your tickets online. It’s the first film to do so.

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mystery team

Has anyone else seen the film, Mystery Team?

It starred Donald Glover and he co-wrote the script, too. The film is about a bunch of high school seniors which is similar to Dope but this film is much more lighthearted. The friends had been a mystery team since they were children but now that they’re adults, they’re under a lot of pressure to grow up and find other hobbies. It’s like a more realistic, R-rated version of Scooby-Doo, complete with a murder mystery! Aubrey Plaza, Ellie Kemper, Bobby Moynihan and various other NBC comedy veterans cameo throughout the hilariously silly film.

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What’s everyone up to?

Next week will be the first Flashback Friday edition of this column! We’ll go all the way back to 2014 and the film, Tammy.

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