Marvel's propaganda representative
Over the last few years, Amanat has become one of the most powerful people in the comic book industry. Her flashy, fancy job title — director of content and character development at Marvel — is corporate code for a job that a million comic book fans would kill for. After six years as an editor for the company, Amanat was promoted to the role in February; now she's charged with making Marvel's superheroes bigger, brighter, bolder, and, most important, reflective of the rich audience that idolizes them.What, do they mean a staggeringly wealthy audience? Which could easily be some, if not all, of the speculators who're buying left and right not so they can read the material for story merit, but in hopes it'll be worth money someday. Okay, I know, they mean a "diverse" audience, yet even then, it remains a very limited form of diverse cast, little more than skin color, sexual orientation or specific religions.
As a woman and a Pakistani American, Amanat has made it her mission to redefine what is possible for women and people of color in an industry dominated by white men. Through her work as an editor on comic books like Captain Marvel, Hawkeye, and Ms. Marvel, she has helped reimagine what superheroes can be. Last year, the first issue of Ms. Marvel — a series and character that Amanat co-created with editor Steve Wacker, writer G. Willow Wilson, and artist Adrian Alphona — went into its seventh printing, a level of success that's extremely rare. Earlier this year, Amanat was introduced to National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates — that initial introduction would later develop into a successful deal orchestrated by editor Will Moss, Marvel's VP of Publishing Tom Brevoort, and Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso to bring Coates to Marvel and write the new Black Panther comic book series.Gee, I thought it was the Big Two that are dominated by white men. Men who're very disrespectful of their country, and even insult the intellects of the communities they're allegedly catering to.
Since her promotion, her editing duties have been streamlined to Captain Marvel, Daredevil and Ms. Marvel, three books she's very passionate about, to make time for an endless array of strategy meetings. Amanat's goal is to determine how Marvel can evolve and make its superheroes more representative and diverse, and then to ensure that it happens. By doing less hands-on editing, she's able to work with the company on a grander scale and across multiple titles.In that case, how come they haven't touted any Romanians or Moldovians? We're still mainly stuck on emphasis of skin color and sexual orientation, I'm afraid. I'm sure I've noted this before, and I'll do so again, but why do only superheroes seem to count for diversity?
Rhimes has stated on more than one occasion that "you should get to turn on the TV and see your tribe." Amanat's objective is to give her audience, Marvel readers, the same kind of opportunity — she wants them to be able to open a comic book, see their tribe, and feel less alone.
"I ask myself, 'Are there other audiences that we're ignoring?' It's really more about the fact that comics are for everyone, and Marvel wants to remind people of that," she tells me.Of course there are others they're ignoring. Audiences who want story merit, title-by-title. That includes the "tribes" they speak of too. They literally take those tribes for granted, thinking they'll buy the books without question as to how enjoyable the tale is or not, and that does nothing to boost their image anywhere.
But while comics are for everyone, Marvel's no longer are. They're only for leftists. They're also only for people addicted to company wide crossovers:
A great example of this is Secret Wars, the company's gigantic, ambitious crossover event that's allowed it to better address the question of who it can better serve. Secret Wars has made some big editorial changes to Marvel's status quo by shaking up teams, recasting heroes and villains, and, in a sense, kicking off a reboot of the Marvel comic book universe. Its conclusion has allowed for the launch of new, exciting titles like The Ultimates, the continuation of hit stories like the revitalized Thor series (in which Thor is a woman), and the reaffirmation of Marvel's commitment to diversity — that aligns with Amanat's vision for the company.They've also got a commitment to crossovers, and so long as they keep it up, it should be crystal clear they're not committed to good storytelling. What's so ambitious about it? And shaking up is another laughable excuse the Big Two have had not to focus on talented writing. As for the Ultimates, that's not new, and it's bound to be even less exciting this time.
And femme-Thor is a "hit story"? Not with its tedious sales numbers it's not.
[...] She'd been editing comics since 2007, and back then, the industry was a lot different, a lot less welcoming than it is now. There were no discussions of representation or diversity.More hilarity ensues. Today, it's still very unwelcoming, especially if you're a right-winger. In fact, like I've said before, Marvel in its current dire situation wouldn't welcome black and Latino creators who liked the Spider-marriage and wanted to restore it, among other fine elements since destroyed.
Comic books — specifically Jack Kirby and Stan Lee's X-Men — were the only place she could find characters she related to. The mutants known as the X-Men, who came in all shapes and colors — a black woman from Africa with white hair; a Southern belle with the power to steal people's life force; a telepathic bald dude in a wheelchair — became the people Amanat identified with, her tribe, after pop culture failed to give her any other options.Boy, she sure doesn't sound like somebody who cared about talented writing. I guess this means she couldn't relate to Power Man and Iron Fist, nor Colleen Wing and Misty Knight! If she wouldn't read the Avengers, then I'm convinced she was never into this for simple enjoyment, unless it was written in a way that suited her narrow visions. It doesn't take much to figure out she never cared for Spider-Man either. The only failure is her ability to appreciate other products without basing it all on some bizarre notion of diversity.
Amanat's editing résumé includes some of Marvel's most instrumental and inventive titles: Hawkeye (writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja) presented a witty and crucial resurgence for the character; Ms. Marvel (Wilson and Alphona) is the crown jewel of Amanat's career and Marvel's wondrous hit; and Captain Marvel (DeConnick and artist Dexter Soy) became the pioneer of what's become a golden age for the woman superhero.But wasn't it cancelled recently? And sales were never stratospheric. They never sold in the millions. So what change really occurred?
"Captain Marvel was really the signal of the change in the market," Amanat says, explaining the moment when it finally dawned on her that what she was a part of, and what she was doing with her writers and artists at Marvel, was making a difference.
...Because the industry is still lacking in diversity, Amanat's gender and the color of her skin make what she says and what she does even more important.I thought it was the talent she could bring to the table that mattered, not skin color and gender. Besides, it's clear her politics are what prompted the editors to hire her.
She's quick to name past women editors and writers at Marvel like Jeanine Schaefer and DeConnick, as well as current co-workers like Adri Cowan, Judy Stephens, and Emily Shaw, who inspire her. She also outlines her many goals: to hire more creators from different backgrounds to tell Marvel's stories, to expand the Marvel community, to make Marvel's heroes more inclusive, and to do it all with a sense of optimism.More like a sense of phony, selective optimism, I'm afraid, as the Muslim Ms. Marvel series has proven. A book or story written with a sense of optimism only seems to come now if it has some kind of propaganda angle to it. And I seriously doubt they intend to hire anybody of different backgrounds unless they fit the vision that suits them. That is, people who're knee-jerk, and wouldn't ever favor Mary Jane Watson as Peter Parker's wife.
"Fundamentally, we have to think about getting the best kinds of stories from the best creators we possibly can," Amanat says. "As we start to have more and more people come [into the industry], we have more creators — maybe someone who can create the next Ms. Marvel, or have Ta-Nehisi Coates write another, different story."Unfortunately, the only folks they want to be inclusive of are the most politically charged from a left-wing position. Hence, the hiring of Coates.
Amanat chuckles at the idea of luring Coates into working on another Marvel title outside of Black Panther.
"I was one of the voices in the room saying if we're doing a Black Panther book, we have to push for an African American writer to write it," Amanat says. "We have to make the effort to be inclusive."
"So, when are we getting the Kamala Khan movie?" I ask. I'm slightly joking, but Marvel still hasn't given a female superhero a solo movie (Fox owned Elektra's rights when that movie was made). Captain Marvel, the first (and only) solo female superhero film on the schedule, has been pushed back to make room for the upcoming Spider-Man movie and the Ant-Man sequel.I think it safe to say that's unlikely to happen, because they know that, in an age when Islamofascism has ravaged many civilized societies, who in the right frame of mind would want to support that?