Slowly but surely, comic book characters and superheros have grown to look more and more like ourselves, like our friends, like the people in our neighborhoods. On September 25, National Comic Book Day, take a moment to explores diversity in comics through these characters:
1. Miles Morales
Under Mexican-American editor-in-chief Axel Alonso, Marvel Comics created Miles Morales, an Afro-Latino, to step into the shoes (Spandex?) of Spiderman after the death of Peter Parker.
Although movie studios probably won't swap out Peter Parker anytime soon, fans can still see Miles Morales on Ultimate Spiderman, where he's voiced by Donald Glover.
2. Black Panther
Black Panther, the first black superhero in mainstream comics, debuted in 1966, ushering in several other black superheroes, including Marvel's the Falcon, Luke Cage and DC's Tyroc, Black Lightning and Green Lantern John Stewart.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, a nominee for the National Book Award and the acclaimed author of Between The World And Me, will pen a year-long Black Panther series for Marvel, out next spring. The year-long storyline, called "A Nation Under Our Feet", will center on revolution, terrorism and heroism.
In 1992, Northstar, one of the X-Men, came out as gay. Twenty years later, in 2012, he made history when he wed his longtime partner in mainstream comics' first same-sex marriage.
"When gay marriage became legal in New York State, it raised obvious questions since most of our heroes reside in New York State," Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Axel Alonso said at the time. "Northstar is the first openly gay character in comics, and he's been with his partner Kyle so the big question was, 'how would this change his relationship?'"
"Our comics are always best when they respond to and reflect developments in the real world," Alonso added. "We've been doing that for decades, and this is just the latest expression of that."
There has been a growing acceptance of LGBTQ characters in comics. Earlier this year, DC Comics gave Midnighter his own solo series, making him the first out superhero with his own series.
Qué? Although some would disagree, fairly solid evidence exists that says that Bane is Latino: he was born in prison on the Caribbean island of Santa Prisca; he speaks Spanish; he dresses like a luchador; and, at various points in animated series about Batman, the villain was voiced by Danny Trejo and Hector Elizondo.
As Colorlines aptly noted in 2011, casting Brit Tom Hardy in the role in The Dark Knight Rises did a major disservice to Latinos everywhere. "Why not take advantage of this perfectly canonical opportunity to give audiences a Latino actor playing a complex Laitno character (i.e. not a gardener) in a blockbuster film?" they asked. "It seems unlikely that [director Christopher] Nolan couldn't find a single Latino actor in a city [Los Angeles] that used to be inside Mexico."
5. The Fox
Never explicitely identified as POC but largely acknowledged as such, The Fox from Wanted was modeled after Halle Berry. The Fox is a stone-cold killer and villain — a bad girl through-and-through. Unfortunately, though not surprisingly, she was played by a white actress, Angelina Jolie, in the 2008 on-screen adaptation of the comics.
6. Wonder Woman
Perhaps the most famous female character in comic books, Wonder Woman has been seen as a feminist icon since her inception in 1941. The warrior princess — played by Latina Lynda Carter on the TV series Wonder Woman from 1975 to 1979 — ushered in countless other female comic characters, including Batgirl, Elektra, and Captain Marvel.
7. Ms. Marvel
In November 2013, Marvel announced that Kamala Khan, a Muslim American, would take over as Ms. Marvel. This marked the first occasion a Muslim character headlined a book at Marvel. As AV Club noted, Khan made a huge impact upon superhero comics — for Muslims, Pakistanis and young women.
8. Thor/Jane Foaster
Last year, Marvel Comics announced a major change to one of his most beloved, iconic characters: Thor would stepping down from his role as the God of Thunder, and a woman would take up the role.
Later, readers discovered the true identity of the female Thor: Dr. Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman in the movie series.
9. Amadeus Cho/The Hulk
In September 2015, Marvel announced a new Hulk to replace Bruce Banner: Amadeus Cho, a Korean-American kid genius. Beginning in December, Cho will headline Totally Awesome Hulk, which will be written and illustrated by Korean-Americans Greg Pak and Frank Cho.