Switching up a superhero's race, gender, or sexuality: Too politically correct or time to happen?

What happens when you take popular comic book characters and change their gender, sexuality, or race? Some internet users have to immediately taken to bashing the changes, while others have shown big support.

Comic book fans have grown up with characters they love, watching them evolve on the page to the big screen.

So, what happens when you take those characters and change their gender, sexuality, or race? Some fans have taken to immediately bashing the changes, while others have shown support.

"There's always a knee-jerk reaction. It's always like, 'Oh my god you're making him Asian? How dare you. You're making him black?' Then you see the actually acting and go well, the spirit is there," says Augustine Antwi, with Reality Comics. He has been reading comics since he was five years old and says he's a purist at times when it comes to his characters, but enjoys the changes.

Recently, DC writers announced Wonder Woman is bisexual. Thor was changed to a woman in 2015. On the television screen, Jimmy Olsen is no longer the goofy, freckled, redhead many adore in the books, but is now a suave, charismatic black man on the CW show "Supergirl". Even in the movies there has been controversy. The internet erupted after African-American actress Zendaya was announced as the love interest Mary Jane in the upcoming Marvel movie "Spiderman: Homecoming".

"At first I was like oh, I don't know...I like keeping things the way they should be," Antwi said. "But then again Mary Jane and the Spiderman ethos has always been about relationships."

There was also a lot of backlash over the casting of Tilda Swinton as "The Ancient One", a normally Asian character, in the upcoming movie "Dr. Strange". Internet users said roles for minorities are already rare enough, and that it is a step back for communities of color who are fighting for equal representation in Hollywood.

So is changing a character's back story being too politically correct? Or is it time for this to happen?

"Seventy percent is like cool what else you got because it's a different arc, it's a different take, it's somebody new, starting something new and progressing forward," says Amy Nunag of the comic book themed podcast "Cracking the Vault". "Thirty percent is going you've destroyed my childhood, you're being mean to me,"  She says readers get bored with stagnant story lines and enjoy mixing things up."

Others argue: Why not create new characters with more diversity, rather than altering a well-known character?

Ben Schwartz, owner of Empires Comics Vault in Sacramento, says the problem is that new characters don't get as much attention, which defeats Marvel and DC's purpose: a push for readership.

"They are a business. Of course there is an agenda behind this," Schwartz says. "They want new readers. They want people to be interested in Marvel. They want the news attention, but as long as they tell good stories, as long as they bring in the top writers, the best artists, and they give us a quality product, then there's nothing wrong with that at all."

"The indie creators who are trying to diversify comic books aren't getting as much love or publicity as the tried and true Marvel and DC characters," Antwi says.

Another point Antwi and Nunag explain is that the title of "Superman" or "Iron Man" doesn't necessarily have to be attached to Clark Kent or Tony Stark. They say being a superhero is just a title, and taking up the mantle shouldn't be exclusive to one person.

"It doesn't matter who's embodying them. As long as the story and the mythos and what they're doing is true to the character, that's what we look for," Antwi says.

Copyright 2016 KXTV


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