It’s been a long time coming for Asian American male characters in the major comic book universes. We’ve had to be content with super-powered stereotypes Shang Chi, Sunfire and Collective Man, but we’ll finally have the first-ever Asian American lead character.
And it’s one of the biggest characters at Marvel, too. Marvel’s Hulk will be Asian American as Bruce Banner will be replaced by Korean-American genius Amadeus Cho as Totally Awesome Hulk. The Hulk is the latest popular Marvel characters getting the “All-New All-Different” treatment:
An Old Man Hawkeye, a new Doctor Strange series and Ms. Marvel joining The Avengers are just some of the reveals Marvel has unleashed since unveiling its All-New All-Different initiative a few months ago. But with over 60 new titles, there’s still mystery surrounding some of Marvel’s most popular characters (source: EW)
Yes, Marvel has had many well-known Asian American characters in the past, but they were all female (and mostly X-men-related, for some reason): Psylocke, Jubilee, Black Widow, Lady Deathstrike, and Blink. I mean, if you’re familiar with Marvel, these are recognizable characters, but not major players.
When it comes to Asian-American male characters at Marvel, it’s like a role call of playground stereotypes: Sunfire (Land of the Rising Sun), Shang-Chi (good old reliable kung fu), Collective Man (a superhero that draws his power from all the people China’s large population) and Silver Samurai (um… samurai). What? No ninjas, railroad workers or General Tsao-shooters?
The great thing about Amadeus Cho is that he isn’t a stereotype (mostly) and he isn’t a new character being introduced for the sake of diversity, but has been on the Hulk scene for nearly a decade. In 2006, a missile was intended for Cho misfired and instead struck Banner turning him into the Hulk.
I give Marvel a hard time here, but though they’re behind on Asian American representation, the company has historically pushed the envelope around race/sexuality especially when compared to the “all-American” D.C.
Still, the argument can be made that Marvel is the just the least-worst option between the two major comic companies. Hey, at least the Asian American Hulk isn’t yellow (half serious).