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The X-Men, Inhumans, and ‘Diversity’ in Comics

Following the news that Marvel Films has likely scrapped plans for an Inhumans movie, this site has received a bevy of rather nasty asks and messages, essentially rubbing my face in the matter, and citing the whole thing as proof that The inhumans can never replace or stand on par with The X-Men.  

A prevailing theme in many of these messages is the notion that The X-Men represents diversity, those who have been oppressed and marginalized in society, and do so in a way the Inhumans could never achieve.  

yikes…

Okay, I love the X-Men.  I always have and likely always will.  And I agree that The X-Men have in many instances acted as an apt metaphorical vehicle for addressing issues of racism, heterosexism, and general oppression.  

Yet, it has rested on it’s laurels for far too long.  

Back in the old days, when comic publishers didn’t feel like they could market superheroes of different ethnicities and backgrounds, the creators circumnavigated the matter by creating metaphorical stand-ins in the form of the mutants.  Mutants were feared and hated by the status quo in the same way in which foreigners, racial minorities, religious minorities, and people of different sexual orientations were feared and hated.  It worked and made for some of the best, most poignant comic book stories out there.  

But that was then, and the X-Men have done very little to catch up with the times.  Metaphorical stand-ins are no longer needed.  The characters actually can be foreigners, people of different ethnicities and racial backgrounds, people of the LBGT+ community.  And yet the X-Men, often cited as being on the cutting edge of championing diversity in comics, has remained just about the the most white bread team out there.

Look at these guys.  Subtract Storm from the group shot and it looks like an advertisement for Abercrombie & Fitch.  

The original Inhumans, those from old Attilan, were no different.  And yet the influx of new Inhumans has done a terrific job of diversifying the heroes of the Marvel Universe.

Some of these characters may catch on to become big stars in the Marvel Universe for years to come; others may very well fade into limbo once the big Inhumans push runs its course.  But it doesn’t change the fact that when you compare the X-Men and the Inhumans side by side it becomes a lot more difficult to argue that the X-Men are the true champions of diversity, the plight of the oppressed, and and those who have been marginalized in society.  

Again, I love the X-Men…  this is just my (slightly tempered) response to the various messages I’ve received haranguing me over this idea that the X-Men are the much more diverse team and that I should be mocked for so loving The Inhumans…