Sean McDowell | July 23, 2019

With the Diversity Focus, Will Marvel Become More Like “The Flash” or “Supergirl”?

With the Diversity Focus, Will Marvel Become More Like “The Flash” or “Supergirl”?

At the San Diego Comic Con last week, Marvel announced the newest phase of movies to be released over the next few years. One thing is clear: The post Endgame Marvel Cinematic Universe will be all about diversity.

Of course, everyone can agree that having characters from different backgrounds, races, and genders is a good thing. For instance, it will be fascinating to see the first Marvel Asian superhero in the movie Shang-Chi (2021). And I am looking forward to seeing Mahershala Ali play Blade in his return to the big screen (2022), and Scarlett Johansson as the lead in Black Widow (2020).

But here’s a vital question that will shape the next phase of Marvel movies: Will Marvel be more like the TV show “The Flash” or more like “Supergirl”? Let me explain the difference.

Supergirl vs. The Flash

My family has thoroughly enjoyed The Flash over the last five seasons, despite some moral differences with themes in the series. For instance, Barry Allen (the Flash) moves in with his girlfriend Iris West before they are married. And the Star City police captain David Singh is openly gay and married his partner early in the series.

Yet despite my moral differences with the way these stories are framed, my family loves the show. In fact, it gives us a chance to talk about these important cultural issues. One reason we enjoy The Flash is that the director doesn’t seem to feel the need to preach at us (at least that fervently) about how we need to “get with the new moral program.” The writer tells good stories (especially seasons 3!) and naturally incorporates diverse characters from a range of backgrounds.

Yet Supergirl is different. After enjoying The Flash, I was excited to watch this show with my daughter. And we enjoyed the first few episodes. But then the show started pushing a clear moral agenda, even at the expense of quality storytelling. And so, we checked out.

Interestingly, an atheist friend of mine also stopped watching Supergirl with his daughter. Unlike me, he does not believe marriage is meant to be between one man and one woman, but he was also put off by the blatant moral agenda of the show. Ironically, even though we are on opposite sides of the same-sex marriage debate, my atheist friend and I both stopped watching Supergirl because of its preachiness.

The Next Phase of Movies

And this brings us back to the next phase of Marvel movies. Will the upcoming movies be more like The Flash, and utilize a series of diverse characters without being preachy at those who see the world differently? Or will it be more like Supergirl and sacrifice good storytelling for the sake of virtue signaling?

With the release of Captain Marvel and the latest X-Men installment, Marvel has shown a willingness to awkwardly push feminist ideas. But it remains to be seen how far this will go. My hope is that they will be content incorporating a range of diverse characters without feeling the need to preach to their “unenlightened” audience.

I am grateful for the stories Marvel has masterfully told over the past decade. Is it too much to ask for continued, quality storytelling without virtue signaling? My suspicion is that it might be. But for my sake, and for the sake of my atheist friend, let’s hope not.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, the National Spokesman for Summit Ministries, a best-selling author, popular speaker, and part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: