A mutual of mine on Tumblr pointed out that the new Marvel Phase 3 release schedule will put Black Panther in the middle of “Black History Month” and Captain Marvel squarely on International Woman’s Day. We both agreed that that cannot be a coincidence.
The cynical part of me (and of many people, I suspect) is already imagining the potentially-offensive, self-congratulatory promotional campaigns that Marvel may engage in when these films finally see their release. And even if Marvel doesn’t take the opportunity to paint themselves as more progressive than they actually are, there’s no guarantee that someone else won’t do it for them. (As blogger Dan Hevia notably did after Marvel made the decision to pass the mantle of Captain America to Sam Wilson, an action that led to considerable scorn in some quarters.)
Marvel’s desire to be perceived as progressive is clear, though. As others have pointed out, the announcement about the inclusion of a new Ant-Man film—an inclusion that comes at the expense of pushing back Marvel’s only female-led film property to date—was careful to include a nod toward equality in representation that was likely intended to placate fans of the franchise who are disappointed to have to wait even longer for their Captain Marvel film. However, a general glance through fan blogs on Tumblr shows that the fact that the new Ant-Man sequel is called Ant-Man and the Wasp isn’t actually very consoling. If they want to be perceived as progressive in terms of their representation, then they need to push the envelop and not rest on their (quickly fading) laurels.