Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige invoked Stan Lee and his iconic Stan’s Soapboxes, while discussing Marvel Studios’ approach to diversity.
Stan’s Soapboxes were found in many of the old Marvel Comics and Marvel Comics is actually reprinting a number of them in their current comics.
Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, Feige invoked Stan Lee, “We’re just the stewards, the current stewards, of these characters that he and his co-creators brought together — and all of them were created in that spirit of those ‘Soapboxes.'”
Feige would add, “That was very much what Stan’s worldview was, and that’s what these movies represent.”
He then discussed that this worldview is the “right way to be.”
“Because that is — how do I put this — it’s the right way to be. It is the way the world should be. And one of the great things about movies is you get to showcase the world that you want to reflect and the way you want the world to be. And that’s what he did with these characters.”
And we’ve already seen Feige make some rather large changes to Lee and Marvel’s characters specifically with Captain Marvel. In fact, Carol Danvers creator Roy Thomas indicated that he hated the way the Skrulls were depicted in the second half of Captain Marvel. They were shown as sympathetic refugees in the second half of the film, a stark contrast to how they are shown in the comics. Thomas was also the man behind the entire Kree/Skrull War during his run on The Avengers.
Not only did Thomas disagree with the way the characters are portrayed, but Feige’s statements appear to indicate a shift in how he wants the public to view the Marvel brand. No longer will it be a brand about good storytelling, but it’s about pushing a certain worldview that he views as “right.”
We saw this throughout the promotion of Captain Marvel with actress Brie Larson. She used her role as the lead actress to promote her political activism rather than the actual film and the story it told.
In fact, Larson made it quite clear one of the reasons she took the role was so she could spread her activism.
“The movie was the biggest and best opportunity I could have ever asked for. It was, like, my superpower. This could be my form of activism: doing a film that can play all over the world and be in more places than I can be physically.”
She would go on to promote the film as having something to do with intersectional feminism. Critics have claimed that how Marvel depicted Monica Rambeau in the movie was actually racist.
Interestingly, if you actually read some of Stan’s Soapboxes, he made it clear Marvel Comics’ main goal was to entertain, not to push a worldview.
At the very end of Black Order #3, Lee makes it quite clear when he writes, “That purpose is, plain and simple – to entertain you!” He would add, “We think we’ve found the best formula of all – we merely create the type of fanciful yarns that we ourselves enjoy – and, if we like ’em, you oughtta like ’em, too; after all, you’re our kinda people!”
He would close out the Soapbox writing, “Now then, in the process of providing off-beat entertainment, if we can also do our bit to advance the cause of intellectualism, humanitarianism, and mutual understanding…and to toss a little swingin’ satire at you in the process…that won’t break our collective heart, one tiny bit!”
In Stan’s Sopabox from Black Order #5, he doubles down on the idea of Marvel Comics being entertainment first.
Stan writes, “We’ve a hunch that most Marvel madmen pretty well know where we stand on such matter – and we’ve long believed that our first duty is to entertain, rather than editorialize.” He would add, “Of course, you’ve probably noticed that it’s not too easy to keep our own convictions out of the soul-stirring sagas we toss at you – but in our own bumbling fashion, we do try.”
Lee would then go on to poll readers on whether Marvel Comics should “editorialize more – or – less – or keep things in their present fouled-up form.”
What do you make of Feige’s statements? Do you agree with his assessment that Marvel movies are “to showcase the world that you want to reflect and the way you want the world to be?”