The studio was slow to feature women and black actors in lead roles, but the latest raft of announcements is a hugely positive step

Over the past few years, Marvel fans have been met by the word first a lot. In 2017, Black Panther served up the Marvel Cinematic Universes (MCU) first black-led solo movie. This year came its first female-led film in the form of Captain Marvel and, a few months later, there was the MCUs first gay moment, in Avengers: Endgame, anticlimactic as it was.

So, it is really no surprise that Marvel announced a string of new firsts at San Diego Comic-Con for phase four of its cinematic slate. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will be the MCUs first Asian superhero movie, with Simu Liu the first Asian actor to lead a solo film. Elsewhere, The Eternals cast looks as good as a United Colors of Benetton advert and will feature the first leads of Pakistani, Latin and Middle Eastern origin, as well as the first deaf hero.

Marvel Studios Kevin Feige and director Chloe Zhao with the cast of The Eternals: Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, Don Lee and Angelina Jolie. Photograph: Alberto E Rodrguez/Getty for Disney

Then theres Tessa Thompsons Valkyrie officially becoming the universes first openly LGBT superhero in Thor: Love and Thunder. The same movie will finally deliver justice for the overlooked Jane Foster character, with Natalie Portman returning to the franchise to become the first female Thor. Mahershala Alis Blade reboot will make him the first Muslim actor to lead an MCU movie.

It has taken 18 years for Marvel to realise that diversity is the ticket despite the fact that the original, Wesley Snipes-starring Blade trilogy, the first of which was released more than 20 years ago, was a box office hit. I can understand why people might be cynical. Does the studio really care about diversity or is it just trying to make money? Whichever is the case, fans have for years had to settle for white male leads and are finally seeing diversity on screen. Children will get to grow up with superheroes who help normalise differences in race, sexuality, disability and more.

We must get past the point of reporting firsts in Hollywood diversity I am more than happy Marvel is finally making the right moves to dispense with it.



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