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Did Avengers Endgame Dust All Melanin in the MCU?

By Joelle Monique | Film | December 8, 2018 |

By Joelle Monique | Film | December 8, 2018 |


Two thousand years ago when words spread like wildfire through the halls of Reddit and the trenches of Twitter that soon the Avengers 4 trailer would be released unto the masses, I swore I wouldn’t watch it. I’m going to see the movie regardless of what happens in the trailer. I’d prefer to be surprised. But, I crumbled pretty quickly. Because even though there’s been less time between Avengers movie than the last season of Game of Thrones, I was already missing the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Imagine my surprise when I reach the end of the trailer and noticed a distinct lack of melanin. After the box office success of Black Panther, and considering the Golden Globe nominations and the Grammy nominations this week, the erasure is shocking. Particularly when Shuri could still be around.


The Princess of Wakanda and the smartest person in the world certainly deserved to survive the snap. After all of her hard work trying to save the Mind Stone, Shuri isn’t seen again in Avengers: Infinity War. She could have been alive. Now, Wakanda has no ruler. Has the city of Black American hopes and dreams descended into chaos? Are Nakia and Okoye still around? There are about five breakout characters from Black Panther that have spent enough time near the Avengers to feature in this trailer.

Someone pointed out to me that the goal of the trailer is to check in on the original members of the team. Steve “Captain America” Rogers, Natasha “Black Widow” Romanoff, Bruce “The Hulk” Banner, Tony “Iron Man” Stark, Clint “Hawkeye” Barton, and Thor reflect on what they believe will be their final mission. This is, after all, the endgame. I understand how this reflection tugs on the heartstrings of fans who’ve been watching this story unfold since Iron Man. I’m still gobsmacked at the absence of any person of color. I’m particularly stunned when I stop to consider that Nebula was given as much screen time as Banner. The trailer isn’t specifically about the originals, but about those left behind.


Another thing to consider is whether either Nebula or Ant-Man could have been replaced with a person of color? Remember back in the 1980s and 1990s when people of color were only cast as token characters? Usually, that person was the comedic fall guy. Even with the 2018 MCU, apparently, we don’t even get that. M’Baku would have been a perfect comedy fall guy. Imagine the leader of the Jabari in New York City trying to figure out next steps with a sad Steve Rogers. Or, instead of Nebula running her hands across her ship, Shuri could have been hyper-focused in the lab, working on a solution.


Speaking of comic relief and badassery, where is Wong? Doctor Strange’s introduction to the mystical world, ultimate street fighter, and lover of Beyoncé has been sorely missed. Again, a touch of the mystical, someone who knows the Infinity Stones intimately, could be very useful to the original team. Then again, maybe Wong’s off somewhere making sure things don’t get worse. Either way, it would be nice to know.


I got so desperate to see a person of color I might have begun projecting. But, could this be Valkryie? If you look carefully, you can see four legs and the outline of what could be wings. Perhaps Valkyrie is on her winged horse.

Everyone has already decided Carol “Captain Marvel” Danvers would be the one to save Tony Stark. But Danvers’ got to be headed toward Thanos. Knowing her practicality and military rigor, stopping Thanos is going to be much more important then plucking one human out of the cosmos, even if that human is Tony Stark.

Valkyrie, on the other hand, owes a huge favor to Thor. After enslaving him and forcing him to fight his best friends, riding across the galaxy to save his friend might even the score. Upon closer inspection, it’s most likely the Benatar, the ship that carries the Guardians of the Galaxy. But I can still dream.


This is a shocking move for Marvel. Disney is usually very tuned into cultural representation. With one of Marvel’s own having pretended to be Asian American in the past to sell his work, turning Hawkeye to Ronin seems like a particularly bad call. Time will tell if they handle his story and the culture of samurai with respect.

With hubs globally, theme parks are made to make everyone feel welcome. It’s a shame it was overlooked here. The final chapter of one of the biggest cinematic movements in the history of art should reflect the time in which it exists. I just hope all people of color will get a better shake when it’s time to watch the movie.

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Header Image Source: Marvel