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Anthony Mackie Calls Out Marvel Studios For Lack of Diversity In Hiring

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BY June 30, 2020
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Since production on most creative projects remains shut down, actors have more time on their hands than usual. Luckily, some like Daveed Diggs, the star of Snowpiercer and original Hamilton cast member, use that downtime to talk to future Captain America (maybe?) Anthony Mackie for Variety’s Actors on Actors series. It’s also a time for a reckoning in Hollywood, where Black creatives are speaking out on the barriers they face in the industry. During this conversation, the actor decided to speak about something that bothers him with respect to Marvel Studios. Anthony Mackie called out Marvel Studios for a lack of diversity in hiring.

Currently, Mackie is waiting to finish filming The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a Disney+ Marvel series that follows the two characters after the events of Avengers: Endgame. We know very little about Marvel Studios’ plans for Phase 4 of the MCU, and what we do know about is all delayed. July will mark the first year since 2010 that we’ve not gotten a new Marvel Studios film. (And the first year since 2002 without a film from any studio about a Marvel character.) Still, wherever they are going, Captain America and Anthony Mackie are going to be a part of it.

So, it’s interesting to hear Mackie call out his employers, though now seems like the time to do it. For example, the CW changing their comment policy was a win for Candice Patton. She long complained about the internet abuse from commenters, but the CW only just took action. Perhaps Mackie hopes that his comments help bring about a similar change with respect to giving artists a shot at working for the company with him.

What Anthony Mackie Said About Marvel Studios and Their Lack of Diversity in Hiring

The topic came up during the interview when Diggs asked Mackie how he responded to “the current moment” in America. Mackie started by pointing out that he and Diggs both are doing well at the moment. He acknowledged that as the lead of two important franchises, they have more power than they are perhaps used to having.

That’s when he spoke up about his experience behind-the-scenes of the movies he’s done.

He said:

“It really bothered me that I’ve done seven Marvel movies now where every producer, every director, every stunt person, every costume designer, every PA, every single person has been white.

We’ve had one Black producer; his name was Nate Moore. He produced ‘Black Panther.’ But then when you do ‘Black Panther,’ you have a Black director, Black producer, a black costume designer, a black stunt choreographer. And I’m like, that’s more racist than anything else. Because if you only can hire the black people for ‘The Black Movie,’ are you saying they’re not good enough when you have a mostly white cast?”

He went on to say that he wants to see the “best person for the job,” and rightly points out that person may be a woman, black, or from some other historically disenfranchised demographic. “As leading men,” he says, that’s something they can “push for” with their parent companies.

Wait, Did He Just Say Black Panther Is ‘More Racist Than Anything?’

Upcoming Untitled Marvel Movie Release Dates Black Panther Anthony Mackie Marvel Studios Diversity Hiring Image via Marvel Studios

Talking about racial issues is tricky, especially because people believe it exists as some kind of binary thing. You either disregard race entirely or you focus on race, allowing biases to run free. This is not the case. Just like anything else in life, racial issues are nuanced and there isn’t a “single answer” for it all.

What made Black Panther so special was that it was the first Marvel Studios film to feature a majority black cast and feature that same diversity behind the camera. Having all of the black voices involved with that movie gave it a cultural authenticity that resonates with audiences of all backgrounds and demographics. This is not to say that white artists could not. (In fact, they did: score composer Ludwig Göransson is so white he’s Swedish!) It was important to include black creatives, especially when movies like this are still, sadly, so rare.

What Anthony Mackie appears to be saying is that Marvel Studios should value diversity in hiring for movies that aren’t about primarily black characters. A rising tide lifts all boats, the saying goes, and Mackie thinks its long past time for the tide to come in at Marvel.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will debut on Disney+, but they have a few weeks of filming left to do once production restarts in the US. Watch the full Actors on Actors conversation below: 

Featured image via Netflix

MarvelMoviesAnthony MackieBlack PantherMarvel StudiosThe Falcon and The Winter Soldier

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.

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