20th Century Fox Film
Why am I going to see X-Men: Days of Future Past? Because of Fan Bingbing. To be fair, Fan Bingbing-as-superhero-Blink isn’t the only thing I’m looking forward to: I’m a (casual, as opposed to mega) fan of the X-Men movies, especially the James McAvoy/Michael Fassbender-helmed X-Men: First Class. It’s just that, in a world where superhero blockbusters reign supreme, there just doesn’t seem to be enough room for Asian/Pacific Islanders (API) – or really very many people of color, at all actually.
There have been a lot of great steps forward lately – Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has two Asian American series regulars, and the most recent Wolverine flick was set in Japan, but other than that? It’s kind of a white wasteland out there, with the occasional (and much-needed) black actor sprinkled in.
Think about it: The Avengers (don’t even get me started on Joss Whedon. I love him, but I’ll never forgive him for the egregiously whitewashed/culture-appropriating Firefly), The Amazing Spider Man, Captain America – all very, very white films. Even Thor, which set a nice precedent with their multi-racial pantheon of Nordic gods, saw almost all of those minority actors completely sidelined in the sequel Thor: The Dark World.
And the worst part is, not only are there not enough Asian/Asian American roles to go around, they are often eliminated entirely in favor of more white characters – or we’re treated with a little yellowface (I’m looking at you, Avatar: The Last Airbender and Dragonball: Evolution). Remember Rogue from the first few X-Men films? She was an amalgamation of Rogue, Jubilee, and Kitty Pryde. Rogue was an interesting choice, but they just have easily could have chosen the Asian American mutant Jubilee – and the API community would have wept tears of joy.
I’m just saying, movie industry: having an Asian/Asian American cast member makes me about three times as likely to buy a ticket. Not for any lack of love for the white actors working hard to bring these comic book favorites to life, but because of just how thrilling and important it is to see people of other races given the heroic limelight, especially in films directed at younger audiences. And if I’m part of a rapidly growing demographic who generally feels the same way? You might want to get with the times.