Marvel Studios casting director Sarah Finn recently confirmed that the film production company will continue to embrace the representation and diversity agenda that has seen the Marvel Cinematic Universe fall into decline during Phase 4, a phase that was unceremoniously killed early by Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige.
Speaking with TheWrap, Finn lied about the diversity and representation agenda not being a “proclamation.”
She said it “wasn’t, from my experience, a proclamation.”
However, The Walt Disney Company, who is the parent company of Marvel Studios, has made it very clear that they do indeed have quotas and have made numerous proclamations about pushing the diversity and representation agenda.
On their Reimagine Tomorrow website, the first thing you see is a message that reads, “At Disney, inclusion is for everyone. Reimagine Tomorrow is our way of amplifying underrepresented voices and untold stories as well as championing the importance of accurate representation in media and entertainment. Because we are all greater than a single story and we all deserve to feel seen, heard and understood.”
The website also previously indicated that they had the goal of making 50% of regular and recurring characters across Disney General Entertainment scripted content come from underrepresented groups by 2022.
It has since been updated and now reads, “We are committed to inspiring a more inclusive world by reimagining the way we tell stories and who tells them. Our intention is to broaden access and diversity in our industry by adopting inclusion standards across Disney General Entertainment and live-action Studio productions by the end of 2022, with the goal of advancing representation in front of and behind the camera, in marketing and more.”
However, it also includes ABC Entertainment’s Inclusion Standards, which calls for 50% or more of regular and recurring written characters come from Underrepresented Groups. Not only do characters have to come from Underrepresented Groups, but 50% of actors should as well.
The standards also include quotas for producers, writing staff, directors, and ironically casting directors.
This certainly looks like a proclamation to me. On top of this, CEO Bob Iger also declared that one of the company’s core values is inclusion when addressing Disney employees back in November.
He stated, “This company has been telling stories for a hundred years, and those stories have had a meaningful, positive impact on the world. And one of the reasons that they’ve had a meaningful, positive impact is one of our core values is inclusion, acceptance, and tolerance. And we can’t lose that. We just can’t lose that.”
In response to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, Iger said Disney would still promote “inclusion,” but suggested that the company must strike a “delicate balance” and “listen to [its] audience” and “have respect for the people that [it’s] serving.” This is a retreat. pic.twitter.com/bZBnQdm616
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) November 29, 2022
Kevin Feige also revealed back in April of 2021 that the Eternals film was moved to the top of their release schedule due to the race and gender swaps that are part of the overall representation and inclusion agenda.
He told Variety, “Well, the notion of switching up the genders, sexualities and ethnicities of the characters from the comics, was baked in initially — that was part of what Nate Moore was really advocating for in moving Eternals to the top of the list for us to start working on.”
In fact, Feige would also note they set out with the intention of changing characters before they even got to casting, “When it came to casting, that also did affect it. There were some characters that we change from male to female, there were some characters that we knew how we were altering them from the books. But then also it came down to casting.”
Given The Walt Disney Company, CEO Bob Iger, and Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige have made it very clear the goals they are committed to, it came as no surprise that Finn echoed what the rest of them have been saying albeit trying to claim it’s not being mandated.
She informed TheWrap, “I will say that after ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ it was one of the things that really fueled me. You know, there’s that moment of ‘Wait, where do we go from here?’ After ‘Endgame,’ it felt so final. And then of course, that impulse is we go with more representation, more diversity, we go younger, there’s a whole fresh wave to explore here.”
“And for me personally, that’s really given me tremendous energy to kind of move forward,” she added.
Despite the quotas that The Walt Disney Company is clearly embracing, Finn tried to downplay them by claiming the company’s top priority when casting is talent.
She relayed, “Look, talent is number one, right? Does this person have talent? Do they have talent not only to play what’s in front of them, but potentially go the long distance? Because we’ve seen so many of these characters evolve and change over time. So I certainly think talent is a starting point.”
Finn went on to detail other factors she claims to look at in the casting process, “Charisma is really important. Are we drawn in? Do we want to watch them? For me, heart. You know, is the audience going to connect?”
She then noted that she also specifically looks for the lame humor that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is no known for, “And I think there is a connective tissue in the MCU in terms of humor, you know, there is a sense of humor, there is a wink in the eye.”
“Maturity is an important, I wouldn’t say quality, but an important aspect, an important factor that I take in when we’re casting it,” Finn also revealed. “Because what they’re thrust into — the sort of worldwide attention, the social media attention, everything — for someone as young as Xochitl, as young as Iman, I want to know that they’re gonna be OK. And it’s hard. It’s a lot, you know? But both of them are handling themselves so beautifully.”
What do you make of Finn confirming that Marvel Studios will continue down their diversity, inclusion, and representation path despite declining returns throughout Phase 4 that embraced the agenda?