THE NAUGHTY KNOT: UNPACKING MARVEL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF AXEL ALONSO’S COMMENTS ON SEX APPEAL AND DIVERSITY
By Andrew Wheeler
In an interview with The Telegraph’s Radhika Sanghani, Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso offered some insights into how he regards the superhero comic industry’s treatment of female characters — and his own intentions towards diversity.
The interview is chiefly noteworthy for confirming what already seems apparent from recent changes in Marvel’s line-up, namely that Marvel understands and is responding to demographic changes in the marketplace. “We believe there’s an audience of women out there who are hungry for this [product] and we want to make sure they get it,” said Alonso. “This is affirmative action. This is capitalism.”
Capitalism is not the starry-eyed spark for change that many of us might wish for, but realistically it’s usually the most effective. Comics is a business — and a very risk-averse business at that. Despite being relatively agile among entertainment media, with quick turnarounds and minimal personnel, superhero comics tend to follow change rather than trying to lead it.
The good news is that Marvel sees a profit motive and is not averse to it. The conservative instincts of superhero publishers — with their attentions fixed on known brands and past glories — can easily lead to a reflexive rejection of anything that feels unfamiliar, such as the paradigm-spinning notion that women are people and not set dressing. It’s sad to say it, but it actually feels like a win just to have evidence that the industry isn’t sliding backwards.