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I Guess There Won't Be Any Black Key S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents... Do You Care?

Television
by Tambay A. Obenson
December 19, 2012 4:59 PM
22 Comments
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SHIELD

I say that because the final member of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team has been cast, and her name is Chloe Bennet, as THR reports this afternoon.

Bennet joins the already-cast Ming-Na, Clark Gregg, Brett Dalton, Elizabeth Henstridge and Ian De Caestecker.

At least Joss Whedon cast Ming-Na, so I suppose we could say that there is SOME diversity in the starring cast - 1/6 worth of diversity.

Unless we should expect to see more *color* in supporting/peripheral/recurring characters, whenever those are revealed.

Or maybe Samuel L. Jackson will reprise his role as Nick Fury in the TV series, but no word on that. Although, in my interview with him over the weekend, I did ask him if he'd be doing any TV any time soon, and he said: 

I'm talking to some people about something like that. And if the idea is right and the time is right, it just might happen.

Was he talking about S.H.I.E.L.D. the TV series?

I don't know...

Announced in August... the espionage and secret military law-enforcement agency in the Marvel Comics Universe, known as S.H.I.E.L.D, is heading at ABC as a serial, with Joss Whedonwho wrote and directed the big-screen version of The Avengers, shepherding, along with his brother Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen (Dollhouse).

Joss Whedon will also executive produce, with Jed, Tancharoen, Jeffrey Bell and Jeph Loeb of Marvel Television.

In that initial announcement, I wondered whether Samuel L. Jackson, who plays S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Nick Fury on the big screen, will be involved with the TV series in any way, and what S.H.I.E.L.D. agents would be included in the cast of characters, and of most importance to this blog, whether any of them would be black.

Speaking with MTV News while promoting Much Ado about Nothing at the Toronto International Film Festival, Whedon revealed that he was "very far" in the process of creating the S.H.I.E.L.D. TV universe, and had even already built and assembled "a full framework and a full cast," that would consist of all new characters, instead of those we've already seen in the Marvel movies.

Great idea, I thought! Give some new characters life, instead of recycling the same ones.

A little bit after, casting details regarding the ABC pilot were revealed - the starring agents specifically - and not being a S.H.I.E.L.D. aficionado, I wondered whether any of them would be of African descent, since this is a site that promotes projects and talents of African descent.

Well now we know the answer to that inquiry. None of them will be - certainly not the starring agents anyway.

Those in-the-know, who are familiar with the S.H.I.E.L.D. universe, will have to clue the rest of us in to whether, of the dozens of S.H.I.E.L.D agents/members that exist in the comic book space, if any of them are black.

*Shrug*

On to the next...

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22 Comments

  • blah | October 25, 2013 3:12 AMReply

    I think for network television, this cast is more diverse than average. Honestly, outside of this show, I would say of minorities, African Americans are the most predominant in TV and Hollywood roles. Yea, this show doesn't have any black actors/actresses in it so far, but on most other mainstream/popular shows, there are. On the other hand, there is a significantly huge lack of Latino and Asian actors. Asian leads are almost never seen, unless they play the goofball/jester role like Ken Jeoung...and obviously, the other 95% of actors is white lol

  • Alpha | October 9, 2013 7:32 AMReply

    Well it's actually 1/3 racial diversity in that Chloe's name is actually Wāng Kěyíng (Chloe Wang) she's 1/2 Chinese/1/2 Anglo. 2 of the other 4 characters are foreigners (British) . I'm going to give a show a pass on diversity when 2/3rds of the cast isn't whitebread Americans.

    I always find it funny that people worry about not enough Afro characters and less about Latino/Hispanics. They are by far a higher % of the average pop in the US but you wouldn't know it from TV. With the exception of Modern Family and Dexter very few shows have more than 1 hispanic face anywhere in the cast.

    The most important thing of course is that it's a great show.

  • James | September 26, 2013 3:36 PMReply

    I don't see why anyone is surprised, but I guess most of you aren't as old as I am, and you still have a healthy optimism about these things. I'll enjoy the show for what it is, but as far as a show of this genre with a relevant p.o.c. in the cast -- those come around about once a generation. Remember even the well remembered DS- 9 didn't know what to do with Avery Brooks for about two seasons making it the first ST spin-off that had multiple episodes that didn't revolve around the captain (in some he was basically a walk on). Marvel already let us know what time it was when they stated that creating the world of the Black Panther was too difficult right before announcing that their next major movie was going to be Guardians of the Galaxy.

  • Black pantha | September 4, 2013 7:25 PMReply

    I have been a marvel fan and have collected marvel comics for over 40 years. Out of six main cast member they couldn't add one person of African decent is saddening. With so much diversity in the would I was hoping for at least one person. But that is not the cast, o for one will not be watching.

  • Geek Soul Brother | May 11, 2013 5:56 PMReply

    I'm not hatin'... much. Everybody knows Whedon is not about racial equality, but about gender equality. And it's not all Whedon. ABC/Disney are very attentive about their racial placement. But from a gender POV, 3 women and 3 men? That's very decent. I'm just sad that Ming Na is a 'Martial Arts Expert'. What is this, the 70s? Next they will have Misty Knight show up wearing bell-bottoms with an afro (which would be great in a Luke Cage period piece). Like another commenter said, let's see how the cast unfolds.

  • MarvelGirl | December 25, 2012 1:38 PMReply

    I can honestly say that I am very disappointed with the casting. This is the year 2012. The Avengers was a HUGE hit, with people of many different ethnic backgrounds paying their money to see go see it in theaters (twice in my case). I would have thought that by now they'd finally get it and at least try to be inclusive. I mean hell, The Avengers movie only had Sam Jackson (Nick Fury) for diversity. Everyone else was white. It would have been nice to rectify that with the TV series.

    In total they have four white individuals, one Asian woman, and a biracial woman. I am glad they cast Ming-Na (She was fantastic in Stargate Universe) and Chloe Bennet (aka Chloe Wang) who is biracial - White/Asian. But as someone commented on ign.com, the cast is almost completely made up of young fair skinned individuals with pretty much Ming-Na for diversity. It would have been nice, but I don't necessarily think they needed to cast someone black. However, I would have loved to see perhaps a Native American individual. When is the last time we've seen a Native American in a mainstream, non-stereotypical role? Or how about a Latino? That population is growing larger and more important every year. How about a young Asian American male weapons specialist - sexy attractive, not a nerd or a martial artist? This could have been a chance to knock out a stereotype.

    Hopefully diversity will crop up as the show progresses.

  • Shawn Taylor | December 24, 2012 11:56 PMReply

    It's Joss Whedon. What did you expect? He lost me in Firefly when Shepard Book's hair being out was some kind of comic relief. Not to mention how shitty Gunn (his name was Gunn) was in Angel. Whedon has profound problems with black people, but black men, in particular. Buff slept with vampires, robots, and all kind of ish, but not even a flirt with Principal Hood? Fuck Whedon.

  • ALM | December 21, 2012 9:03 PMReply

    Colsen!!!!!!!!!!!

  • James Brown - Say It Loud! | December 21, 2012 2:55 PMReply

    & it's a known fact that white people consider Asians the next best thing to themselves.

  • James Brown - Say It Loud! | December 21, 2012 2:49 PMReply

    I'm a HUGE Firefly fan (Browncoats!) but I've always criticized Joss Whedon for either making most of his bad guys black (I chalk it up to Joss trying to ensure his lily white daughters don't bring one home) or ignoring black and brown folks altogether. One or two of us every once in awhile just doesn't cut it anymore. White folks just can't seem to comprehend that we don't exist on some fantasyland periphery in this country (although I'm sure that delusion makes them feel better) and that black and brown folks are COMPLETE PERSONS - with thoughts, feelings, and ideas that encapsulate diverse genres. This new casting just goes to show ONCE AGAIN that someone like Joss who is in a powerful position to aid in changing that mindset isn't even considering doing so. Like most whites he probably believes that the responsibility rests solely on our shoulders without considering who his viewing audience is actually comprised of. Another case of Just Like Me (And Only Me) Anyone?

  • Donella | December 21, 2012 3:30 PM

    I've given Joss Whedon a pass for Gina Torres in Firefly and Serenity, but that's about eight and some odd years ago. Pass has long expired. He's a producer, so he does have the ability and wherewithall to affect casting. He casts according to standard operating Hollywood procedure like most in Hollywood do.

  • K | December 21, 2012 12:34 AMReply

    I auditioned for the character Ming-Na got and I am a black actress.. I wonder if that matters? I think the conversation should be more about what the writer sees as vision vs if there are black characters in something. It's really shallow to only see things on the surface all the time.

  • Simon | December 20, 2012 2:06 AMReply

    Chloe Bennet (also known as Chloe Wang) is Chinese American

  • Scruffmouth | December 19, 2012 11:51 PMReply

    George Washington Bridge

  • Ghost | December 19, 2012 9:31 PMReply

    IN mainstream Marvel Universe there are currently none. I think there may ahve been 2-including the one that became Bucky #2 and later Battlestar when Steve Rogers stopped being Capt. America.. However in the Ultimate Marvel Universe there are plenty of them-I know I saw at least 3 in Ultimate Avengers vs Wesley Snipes-I mean Blade. They were all black males, I don't remember seeing any black females.

  • VichusSmith | December 19, 2012 10:52 PM

    http://marvel.com/universe/SHIELD

    If anyone is curious of some members of the organization.

  • No | December 19, 2012 6:26 PMReply

    Great that Ming-Na's back in action, but it'll be interesting to see how they'll pull Clark Gregg from the dead.

  • No | December 19, 2012 6:23 PMReply

    It'll be interesting to see how they pull Clark Gregg from the dead. His character was killed in the Avengers.

  • illthoughts | December 19, 2012 6:02 PMReply

    I expected this to happen but at least they have an Asian. Those with the power and the pen can do what they want. Just gotta do our own thang.

  • Kai | December 19, 2012 5:45 PMReply

    from what I remember, shield comic characters weren't known for it diversity... but then again, neither was the marvel universe. but it looks like the final cast has two Asians in it.
    but still a government organisation (which shield is) set in the future with no black people is pretty fuckin weird

  • VichusSmith | December 19, 2012 7:11 PM

    Better known for their diversity than DC Comics, but yes, fairly homogeneous for the most part.

  • VichusSmith | December 19, 2012 5:40 PMReply

    Do I care? Yes and no. I hate an obvious "throw in a black person" cast. It gives me bad chills. However, it should stand to reason that if Sam Jackson's the director of the damn thing, SHIELD's not shy about having black people on their staff.

    In the end, I don't sweat it so much, because the cast could be changed any number of ways, and have good characters of all races pop into the show- and maybe even stay on the cast.

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