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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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DC Studios faces backlash for lack of diversity in new lineup

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GRAPHIC: GABRIELLA GUZZARDO ’23/THE HAWK

The superhero film genre has inspired fans of all ages for generations, but in recent years, the industry has been called out for its lack of diversity. So when DC Studios (DC), a subdivision of Warner Bros. Discovery, previously known as DC Films, released its new lineup on Jan. 31, all eyes were on the casting choices and storylines.

DC’s movie and television plan over the next few years includes films such as “Superman: Legacy,” “The Authority” and “The Brave and the Bold.” A series of animated and live-action TV shows will be streamed on HBO Max, including “Creature Commandos” and “Booster Gold.”

Many critics latched onto the lack of diversity in the lineup, a constant struggle for DC. The studio’s only major film to feature a Black actor in a lead role was “Black Adam” in 2022. The majority of their stars have all been white.

The current lineup does include some non-white portrayals, such as “Blue Beetle,” which features a Hispanic lead actor. There are also plans for a TV show titled “Waller” starring Viola Davis as Amanda Waller and a Superman film with a Black lead. 

According to Morgan Bryant Reeder, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing, DC’s past projects show the company has been “incredibly slow” at addressing diversity issues. 

“Most of their main characters have been white males, with some female characters appearing,” Reeder wrote in response to written questions from  The Hawk. “They’ve ventured into more diversity in recent years.”

Kathia Woods, an entertainment journalist for The Philadelphia Tribune and founder of the Cup of Soul podcast, wrote in an email to The Hawk that Marvel, DC’s number one competitor, has done a much better job at casting diverse actors in lead roles.

“In comparison to Marvel, DC is less diverse,” Woods said. “They have made no attempt to cast a minority in a leading role.”

Woods said if other studios are able to capitalize on minority leads, DC should put in the time and effort to do so too.

“They have no excuses because the characters exist and the talent to portray and bring those stories to life exists,” Woods said. 

Reeder said other companies such as Netflix and Marvel have done a great job of offering diverse representation both on screen and off, but the film industry overall still needs some work.

“I think the film industry is beginning to more fully embrace diversity but has a really long way to go,” Reeder said. “The industry as a whole still caters to a majority view [through] the stories and perspectives that make mainstream, the make-up of executives and decision makers, the behind the scenes production professionals, and on-screen talent.”

In November 2022, James Gunn and Peter Safran replaced Walter Hamada as CEO of DC Studios. One of Gunn’s personal plans is the “Waller” series.

Jaylen Dotson ’21, a film critic for The Hawk, said he is looking forward to the addition of “Waller.”

“I’m excited about ‘Waller’ because that’s starring Viola Davis,” Dotson said. “It’ll be really interesting to see how this new series explores [Amanda Waller’s] backstory and [how] her character expands.”

Dotson said improve-ments in diversity in the film industry mirror society in general.

“We’ve made a lot of progress, but there’s still progress to be made,” Dotson said.

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