The hottest issue of comics this past year has undoubtedly been diversity in both comics and comic movies. Comics have an undeniably white male origin, and one of the greatest challenges for writers has been how to successfully diversify comics while not displeasing fans of the original characters.
Fans are heavily divided on the issue, but four main approaches are clear. So which do you think is the best?
1. Don't Change Established Characters, Ever.
Comic purists generally favor this view. Their main argument revolves around the years or decades of storytelling around characters. Changing the character essentially erases the history, and often puts a whole new character under an old one's name. Many fans are put off by the seeming publicity stunt-if the New 52 Wally West was not named Wally West, would he receive any recognition at all? Most in this group are comfortable only with the ideas of making new characters, or giving older, more diverse characters more attention.
2. Only Change Characters That Are Not Well Known.
One of the two more compromising solutions is diversifying lesser known characters and working to make them more popular. An example is Marvel's Deathlok, who gained increased popularity after Marvel removed the white Luther Manning and replaced him with the African American Michael Collins. This approach allows a bit more freedom to writers, while still maintaining the most iconic images.
3. Anyone Can Be Changed-If It Makes Sense.
This is the more liberal of the compromises, and possibly the most fluid between its supporters. People here don't want to see great characters changed for nothing and put value in a characters race or gender heritage. They became more visible in recent casting debates-many are in favor of the Hawaiian Jason Momoa as Aquaman, but were adamantly against suggestions of Donald Glover as Peter Parker. This approach mainly relies on the feel of the character-if a race or gender change feels right for them, they'll support it. If not, they're against it.
4. Any Character Is Open To Change At Any Time For Any Reason.
This camp is the opposite of the first, and actively supports diversification by any means. They are heavily in favor of any changes to race or gender regardless of the original character, and feel that greater diversity in heroes trumps the idea of heroic legacy. They also support the introduction of new, more diverse heroes, and often are displeased with the introduction of white male heroes.
After the poll below, I'll be writing a paper for a class at the University of Missouri on this topic, which I will also be publishing here within the coming weeks. Any farther elaboration on your choice in the comments would be appreciated!