Sex, Race, and Sexual Orientation in the Avengers (Part 2 of the Six Month Superhero Census)

Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, HawkeyeThis is part 2 of my six month superhero census. To check out the demographic of the Justice League and to start at the beginning of series, go to Sex, Race, and Sexual Orientation in the Justice League (Part 1 of the Six Month Superhero Census).

As previously stated, this is part of a year-long superhero census but the following information only reflects data gathered from January through June of 2012.  It includes Avengers members from not only The Avengers but also from all other Avengers titles, one-shots, and miniseries. It also included data from the from the 2010 U.S. Census and “How Many People are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender?” by Gary J. Gates.

Superhero Census: Sex, Race, and Sexual Orientation in Avengers

Click to enlarge

The Avengers’ Sex Composition

I’m very disappointed in The Avengers’ sex composition. I honestly thought it would be better than it is. There are so many awesome female Avengers (Ms. Marvel, Black Widow, and even Storm joined for a little while). But in the end, they were just far too out numbed by all the male Avengers. It’s not quite as bad as the Justice League, but to make a team with only 31.6% women when the population is 50.8% female is nothing to celebrate.

The Avengers’ LGB Members

I was surprised that the Avengers’ membership actually includes five self-identifying LGT characters: Victoria Hand, Wiccan, Hulking, Striker, and Lightspeed. There aren’t really any prominent LGB members, but it’s a start.

Striker coming out to Lightspeed

Really? We’re not past these stereotypes yet?

I’ve already expressed how much I dig Wiccan and Hulking, but unfortunately not all of the representations of LGB people are handled as well. Striker’s coming out is particularly distasteful.

In Avengers Academy #23 we find out that Striker is not only gay but he was also molested as a child. Yeah, because that’s a great stereotype to perpetuate. And to make matters worse, Striker then goes on to wonder if this sexual assault “made” him gay.

Striker wondering if his sexual assault "made" him gay

Oh, wow. You managed to make this scene even worse. Awesome.

In fairness, Lightspeed immediately responds with “I don’t think it works that way. Someone like that can’t make you into something you’re not.” Also in defense of this scene,  Chris Cage (the writer of Avengers Academy)  has said:

“the thing I did have a little bit of concern about was that no one mistakenly think I was implying that being abused as a child somehow “made” Striker gay. Quite the opposite — if he hadn’t been abused, he may well have figured this out a long time ago. But making that clear is on my shoulders. Hopefully, I got it across in the story.”

Striker discusses that he didn't have a father

You’re trying to include every offensive misconception about gay men, huh?

I understand what he was trying to do, but the very idea that Cage decided the best way to fight a stereotype was by creating a charter that perfectly fits into said stereotype is one the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. Then, as if this wasn’t bad enough, Cage also decided that Striker didn’t have a dad growing up…

The Avengers’ Race Composition

Again, here we have a team that is actually whiter than the U.S. population.  The lack of Hispanic and Latino characters are particularly terrible (2% vs. 16.3%). Asian and Black superheroes are also horribly under-represented and there are zero Native Americans or Alaskan Natives on the team.

Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Wolverine, Spider-man and more Avengers

Conclusion

Hawkeye, Patriot, Vision, Wiccan, Hulking, Stature as the Young Avengers

The Young Avengers

Overall the Avengers did not fare well. But, it could have been a lot worse if not for their teenage teams: the Young Avengers and Avengers Academy. A lot of the Avengers’ diversity came solely from these two teams. Together, they contained 4/5 of the LGB Avengers, 3/4 of the characters with two or more races, 2/9 black heroes, and all of the Asian, Hispanic or Latino, and Native Hawaiian superheroes.

It’s not surprising that the teenage teams are more diverse. These younger characters where created in a (somewhat) more progressive time and in many ways aren’t as limited by stereotypes, prejudices, and misinformation. Of course, many still are (I’m looking at you Striker).

Lightspeed, Mettle, Hazmat, White Tiger, and Finesse as Avengers Academy

A few member of Avengers Academy

Furthermore, since there tends to be a “greater acceptance of diversity among young people” it makes sense that comics featuring young characters, targeted at young people, feature more diversity.

That being said, it’s time for the adult Avengers to step up their game and stop making their teenage counterparts do all the heavy lifting when it come to diversity.

[Edit: The 3rd and final part of the six month superhero census has now been published. Check out Sex, Race, and Sexual Orientation in the X-Men (Part 3 of the Six Month Superhero Census) now!]

1 Response to “Sex, Race, and Sexual Orientation in the Avengers (Part 2 of the Six Month Superhero Census)”



  1. 1 Where’s the Diversity? | erinbrennanblog Trackback on October 21, 2013 at 7:23 pm

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