December is usually the time of year when we start reflecting on our progress and our actions. It’s when we calculate how close we got to achieving our New Year’s resolutions from way back in January. It’s when we look at the things we aimed to do and see whether or not we’ve done them — or if we’ve done them correctly.
And it’s not much different here at Girls in Capes. There are things we hope to see from the world: representation of the groups we are ourselves a part of, representation of other groups we know aren’t represented, and positive changes in geek culture. 2014 has been a year of dubious victories for media representation of traditionally underrepresented groups.
It was the year of #WeNeedDiverseBooks, a campaign to increase diversity in the young adult book industry. The response to the campaign has been tremendous, sparking discussion and exploration of different authors and books.
Marvel and DC announced a number of movies in their updated list that includes many heroes who could be considered underrepresented: DC’s films include the 2017 Wonder Woman movie, 2018’s Aquaman starring mixed-race Hawaiian Jason Momoa, and 2020’s Cyborg while Marvel has announced a 2017 Black Panther, a 2017 female-led Spider-Man spinoff, and a 2018 Captain Marvel film which will feature Carol Danvers as the title role rather than Mar-Vell. (Comics Alliance has a really great infographic featuring the full release schedule up to 2020.)
The release of Catching Fire and Disney’s Big Hero 6 could also be considered victories of representation. Catching Fire had the largest box office opening might of 2014 — despite the “fact” that female action heroes can’t make money in Hollywood. Big Hero 6’s opening weekend proved a movie featuring an Asian American cast — and an Asian American hero — could be equally loved by kids as a movie with a blindingly white cast.
But 2014 has also had a number of deeply saddening events, both in entertainment and in major national events. It’s not that we’re strangers to this sort of ugliness — but we had hoped that, in 2014, we could transcend the ugliness of the past.
It was the year of GamerGate, an ongoing movement with misogyny at its roots.
It was another year of whitewashing — in casting the new film Pan, in casting the upcoming Exodus: Gods and Kings, in casting the upcoming Age of Ultron. (And the list probably only goes on.)
2014 was a year of victories and defeats for equal and positive representation across different industries in geek culture. As we close out the year, we reflect on the victories we’ve seen, the losses we’ve taken, and look forward to a future where things are better.
Feliza Casano is a fan of anime, manga, and every sort of book as well as editor in chief at Girls in Capes. She writes for all sections of the site, and she’s the one behind GiC’s Facebook and Twitter. Follow her on Twitter @FelizaCasano.