Shhh, Thanos Might Be A Bit Racist

The systemic bias problem in Marvel’s Infinity War

Marvel Studios

*Spoiler Alert*

If you have not yet seen Marvel’s “Avengers Infinity War” stop reading now.

Sometimes, when human resources people aren’t shown the date demonstrating their systemic hiring biases, they have no idea they have diversity hiring problems.

I totally get that most of the characters who were subject to “Death by Culling” are coming back (either using Captain Marvel, Thanos being haunted by Gamora, or through the Time Stone)…but, the deaths in Infinity War seemed to be a bit too specific to a certain…melanin makeup.

Marvel Studios, Disney, MCI…Here is some culling data from your movie Infinity War (which was very good by the way)…and the data seems to demonstrate that you might have a systemic bias about Avenger character deaths.

To recap, the following characters played by African Americans who died in Infinity War:

Heimdall (Played by Idris Elba)

Gamora (Played by Zoe Saldana)

Black Panther (Played by Chadwick Boseman)

Falcon (Played by Anthony Mackie)

Nick Fury (Played by Samuel L. Jackson)

So, out of 16 characters visibly killed in Infinity War, 5 were played by African Americans (31.25 % vs. approximately 12.3 % in the general US population) and, by my count, only ONE African American hero remains alive(War Machine).

Perhaps more important, there are way fewer superheroes of color in the Marvel Universe compared with white superheroes to start with (so maybe erring on the side of preserving diversity might have made some sense here?).

Also, it probably would have been a good idea to keep Black Panther alive after the culling.

You literally just got MILLIONS of people of color on board and using the “Wakanda Forever” salute and you pay them back by killing off Black Panther?

There are hundreds of thousands of kids, many who are people of color, who JUST adopted Black Panther as their favorite superhero. As a lifelong nerd, I was happy to see the Marvel Universe really embrace diversity and it important for kids to have heroes who look like them.

The choice just seemed really short-sighted.

Let’s be honest, if you held a sale on Infinity War involved action figures, I bet War Machine would sell the least and Black Panther near the most.

I totally understand most of these characters are not “forever” dead. But it will be a year until the next Avengers movie cleans all this up, so wouldn’t it have made sense to keep some heroes of color alive?

Am I crazy here or is Thanos (and the MCI) replicating systemic societal bias?

** Post-Script **

I have gotten a ton of blowback on this article.

To those who claim I am taking entertainment too seriously, all I said was that Marvel had been “short-sighted” and that they should probably have kept Black Panther alive. I didn’t excoriate Marvel or even call them racist, I pointed out a statistical disparity and made a few arguments about why it might matter.

Before I walked into my screening, multiple people of color took pictures in front of the poster doing the Wakanda Forever salute. Just like the Avengers matter to people Black Panther matters to people.

To those who wished me dead, seriously? Because I noticed something and wrote about it? I am a life-long Marvel fan, you have a right to your opinion and I have a right to mine.

Also, how can I both be taking things too seriously and at the same time inspire people to wish me dead?

Josh is the co-host of the Decarceration Nation podcast and is a blogger and freelance writer who writes about criminal justice reform, television, movies, music, politics, race, ethics, and more.