Guardians of the Galaxy 2 hasn’t even started filming yet, so what’s the deal? Casting.
After the first film’s Gamora Problem, the internet was quick to cry “feminist foul!” at a casting call released earlier this week. Filming does not start until February, but apparently “casting begins A.S.A.P. for early selection of specific types.” In this case, a variety of masculine biker characters, and then a smaller selection of pretty people.
Look at those two groups: the “character aliens” are diverse in both ethnicity and physical flaws, and while the second group is open to both men and women, they’re incredibly specific in appearance. Now, I try to keep an open mind about these things, and maybe they need these types of folks for a particular club or bar scene. Maybe an exotic dancing club. But one of those footnotes really does rub me the wrong way–“please do not bring others that are not one of the types above.” I understand how children could be a distraction, but what if someone wants a friend for moral support? If they’re trying to keep the crowds down, surely there is a more efficient way to get that point across. Because it reads like “Don’t bring your ugly friends.”
Online comments got so heated that James Gunn chose to respond to the outcry. “There are DOZENS of cultures in GotGVol2,” he tweeted. “These are just 1st two we’re shooting (the Ravagers are all male).” It’s a plausible explanation, but it doesn’t make me feel any more comfortable about those footnotes.
In additional casting news, Pom Klementieff has joined the GotG2 cast in “a key role.” The prevailing online theory is she’ll be Mantis, another Guardian from the comics. Deadline claims to confirm it but I’d rather wait for a Marvel-sanctioned announcement.
Now, Mantis is pretty cool–she’s a grandmaster martial artist with the abilities of astral projection, empathy, and eventually plant manipulation. She’s also got ties to the Kree race (you may remember they’re behind the Inhumans now populating Agents of SHIELD) as well as Thanos, the big baddie we’ve seen plotting in the MCU. Among the Guardians she tends to be the counselor, but she’s also capable of going head-to-head with the likes of Thor and Captain America.
Unfortunately, there’s also a whole lot of problematic junk in her history that her cinematic counterpart could be reduced to. That list includes, but is not limited to: memory loss, prostitution, and a sect of the Kree believing she’s destined to be Celestial Madonna. No, really, she mates with a telepathic plant and gives birth to Space Jesus.
On the positive side, Klementieff’s casting is another notch for Asian visibility in Marvel. With the exception of AoS, actors and characters of Asian descent have had very little to do in the Cinematic Universe. Those that do appear are either antagonists or are support for the heroes with a high probability of being killed off. Even Dr. Helen Cho, a brilliant scientist, was briefly under the mind control of Ultron in the latest Avengers installment. Thankfully she survived and was actually able to rebel and co-create The Vision. But like I said, she’s a rare case.