After James Gunn shared a picture of Chukwudi Iwuji as the High Evolutionary in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," a troll whined, "Damnit... another white guy they made into a black guy."
Usually fans are excited at any glimpse of their favorite comic book characters coming to life on the screen. That wasn't the case for one racist fan when James Gunn revealed his High Evolutionary.
The director shared an image of Chukwudi Iwuji in character for his upcoming "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" to his Instagram page from the set of the film. "Can't wait for you all to meet this guy," he wrote.
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But he wasn't done there, as one follower immediately went on a racist rant about the casting choice. "Damnit... another white guy they made into a black guy," the user wrote. "Why couldn't they leave him white or i don't know...pick a different minority?"
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Making his argument a little more muddy, the user continued, "How about Asian or gasp! A Latino? (how many Latinos and Asians in MCU? Like total of 5??) Or make him an Indian or something… because they don't and won't, that makes them 'woke.'"
While this user was getting all worked up over Iwuji's race, most fans were talking more about how much this image reminded them of "Robocop." It's the skin of the face being pulled over the machinery that evokes the 1987 film starring Peter Weller.
It's a little odd to argue that Gunn and Marvel are "woke" if they change a white character into a Black character, but not if they change a white character into any other minority. It's also still racist.
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Like many of Marvel's classic characters, the High Evolutionary was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby back in 1966. At that time, due to societal norms, a disproportionately large percentage of new comic book characters were white. The expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe has been tweaking that formula.
Most of the primary characters like Spider-Man, Iron Man and Captain America have remained white, but there have been changes to other characters to more reflect real world diversity. Most notably, Nick Fury is portrayed in the movies by Samuel L. Jackson. He proved so popular on the big screen, the comic book version is now also Black (and the son of the original white Fury).
The user wasn't done espousing bigotry. They continued, "Next time, a major character (hero/villain)will be a trans or homosexual or non-binary (when in comics they are not). Sad and pathetic. They're picking based on race and whats PC and not on acting and what's established."
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In other words, superhero movies need to be almost exclusively white to reflect the more racist times in which most of those characters were created. The only characters of color this user will allow are those created in more recent years, and those few rare old-school minority characters like Luke Cage, Black Panther, and Shang-Chi.
Gunn quickly shut the fan down, replying, "I chose the best actor, period, and the best person for the role. I don’t give a shit what ethnicity @chukwudi_iwuji is, so stop with your racist presumptions on WHY he was chosen. (And, by the way, he’s playing a guy who’s almost always purple in the color.)"
There was similar pushback when Zoe Saldana was cast as Gamora in the first "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie -- you know, a character who is both an alien and green.
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"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" marks Gunn's final shot with the franchise, and with the larger MCU. He has now signed up as the co-head of the rebooting DC Universe, alongside Peter Safran.
Unfortunately, racism and sexism appears to exist in both fandoms, as evidenced by review bombing that's happened for "Captain Marvel," "Batwoman," "Ms. Marvel," "Black Adam," and "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law," among too many others. If it's not white or male or straight (and preferably all three), it's going to infuriate a certain segment of fandom.
It's clear, though, that Gunn isn't going to put up with it, and will stand and defend his choices and his actors. That bodes well for strong leadership and diversity as the DCU rebrands and rebuilds.