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Why aren't there more black heroes at Marvel? The company's X-Men editor explains

The Marvel Comics Editor Tom Brevoort answered an email inquiry about dearth of black heroes in the X-Men besides those from Wakanda

City of Wakanda viewed from above
Image credit: Marvel Comics.

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Have you ever wondered why there are so few African heroes or villains in Marvel besides those of the fictional country of Wakanda? A fan asked Marvel Comics' executive editor Tom Brevoort, who has noted a death in black heroes in the X-Men, what's behind it - and received a cogent response.

The explanation was in response to an email from reader Joel Zorba. Wrote Zorba: “apart from the fictional country of Wakanda, there are practically no African characters, Mediterranean Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. And there's so much on that continent, so many cultures, so many people who love Marvel characters.”

In support of the argument, Zorba used existing Marvel Comics characters. “There are also so many magnificent gods and goddesses who could become Marvel characters, just as there have been Norse and Greek gods like Thor and Hercules. There's even an African thunder god king and many other god kings and queens in different African pantheons.”

Zorba concluded, “So why are Africa, Africans and African gods still so ignored?” Brevoort responded by comparing the cause to “any similar situation”: “a lack of familiarity with the cultures of which you speak and a lack of interest in exploring those pantheons.” Brevoort continued that individual writers each have their personal areas of interest.

Brevoort previously noted that he took over the X-Men comics line, saying in 2023 "I wish there were more viable black male characters..." in the X-Men line.

While Brevoort acknowledges the possibility of more African characters in the panels of Marvel Comics, he qualifies that possibility with the perspective of the current stable of writers. “But we really need creators who are familiar with those cultures and interested in developing those characters to do so effectively,” he wrote. To this end, Brevoort cited the titles released under Marvel’s Voices banner.

Brevoort wrote, “This is what that the Marvel’s Voices books have been about, bringing in a wider array of creators and giving them the space to tell a broader range of stories about characters of different backgrounds.” Most recently, May 2024’s X-Men: The Wedding Special (2024) #1 was released, the first Marvel’s Voices title that did not include the branding in the issue’s title.

Keep up to date on Popverse's Marvel coverage, with these highlights: Disney CEO Bob Iger is promising Deadpool & Wolverine will be MCU's biggest movie "in a long time", how Marvel Studios is now working "much more closely" to sell Marvel comics, how Marvel Comics' boss said it was lost in 2023 (and how its finding itself again), Inside Marvel Comics' plans to fix its pricing issues, Overgrown children of the atom: Marvel's X-Men can't evolve past their '90s commercial peak, and the biggest outstanding questions of the Marvel Studios' movies & TV shows.

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Avery Kaplan avatar
Avery Kaplan: Avery lives and writes in Southern California. She is the co-author of Double Challenge: Being LGBTQ and a Minority with her spouse, Rebecca Oliver Kaplan. Avery is Features Editor at Comics Beat, and you can also find her writing on, The Gutter Review, Geek Girl Authority, and in the margins of the books in her personal library.
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