The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Phase 4 teaser trailer dropped on Monday and, along with a hefty dose of nostalgia for Phases 1-3, delivered a peek into a much more inclusive MCU.
While the MCU had already been making moves toward greater inclusivity, specifically with Phase 3 tent poles Black Panther and Captain Marvel, Phase 4 expands on those moves, reflecting a U.S., and global, movie going public eager to see its experiences reflected on the screen.
Standouts among the newest upcoming additions include Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, led by Simu Liu, breakout star of Canadian hit Kim’s Convenience; The Eternals, starring Kumail Nanjiani and Train to Busan’s Don Lee, and directed by none other than 2021 Academy award winner Chloé Zhao; and of course the long awaited second installment in the Black Panther franchise, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Of particular note is The Eternals, which promises to bring even deeper levels of inclusion to the MCU: Nanjiani’s character is a demigod who lives among mortals as a Bollywood superstar (maybe we’ll get some Hindi or Marathi dialogue?), and the movie will also feature a deaf superhero, played by deaf actor Lauren Ridloff, in a first for the MCU properties. Fans are hoping this will also lead to yet more linguistic inclusion in the form of American Sign Language (ASL) being prominently featured in the movie.
Comic books in the U.S. are no strangers to societal allegory-making. Superman was a metaphor for the immigrant experience, and the mutants of the X-Men were a metaphor for the struggles of African-Americans during the civil rights movement and, later, for the LGBTQ+ struggle for equality. As Hollywood moves — fitfully — to reflect the audiences it has long sought to reach, and as the U.S. and world address the legacy of the global slave trade and state sanctioned discrimination, it’s only fitting that comics, now cornerstones of so much audiovisual content, reflect shifting demographics and societal consciousness. The cinematic experience, for all people, can only be better for it.