Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite has taken quite the beating over its roster, and for a variety of reasons. One of my biggest sticking point is how boring and safe the roster is. And there is nothing better as an example of this than by how poor it is in diversity. Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite caught a lot of flak for this, and rightfully so. Both Marvel and Capcom have more options than ever to choose from for diversity, so it seems strange that the game lacks it. And the thing of it is, I am not holding Capcom to the standards of another company, nor am I even holding Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite to the standards of any other series they produced. No, I am criticizing it as one of the least diverse the series has to offer at launch.
Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite fails racial and gender diversity
Even by comparison to multiple past games, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite is underperforming. It is the first game in the series to lack a dark-skinned character (at least at launch), for instance. Not that it’s ever been terribly impressive – it’s mostly been Dhalsim and Storm holding up the fort – but they still existed at least. And for female characters, all we have are Captain Marvel, Chun-Li, Gamora, and Morrigan. I mean, I like the latter three well enough, but it’s noticeably lacking. The only games it matches or beats for female representation are the first three games. After that though, the other games cream it. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has nine female characters, and Marvel vs. Capcom 2 has a whopping 15!
Why the X-Men licensing issue is only part of the problem
To some extent, I understand why the diversity has gotten worse. After all, X-Men was a fairly large part of why the cast in past games was so diverse. Of the 15 women in Marvel vs. Capcom 2 for example, X-Men comprise five of them. Storm, Psylocke, Rogue, Marrow, and Spiral. That is the series with the most female representatives, the only one coming close being Street Fighter with three: Cammy, Chun-Li, and Sakura. But ultimately, the lack of X-Men characters is merely one roadblock. There are plenty of female characters from Marvel vs. Capcom history who could have been included instead. Tron Bonne? Sakura? Amaterasu? B.B. Hood? Chun-Li and Morrigan are NOT the only female Capcom characters. Or heck, why not go outside of the box and add new ones, like Regina from Dino Crisis or Nina from Breath of Fire? Or my personal Street Fighter favorite, Makoto?
Given that Disney has its brand on this game, it’s no surprise that the Marvel side is pretty lacking. All they have brought to the table are Captain Marvel and Gamora. And while certain comic-only characters like Kamala Khan – a character I wish got in – are open, Disney seems intent on focusing on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And unfortunately, the company’s films have very few women and dark-skinned characters of any gender. The former is due in part to then Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter’s view on female superheroes, citing the poor female superhero films such as Elektra and Catwoman for this. Thankfully Perlmutter has left and Wonder Woman is arguably DC’s biggest property right now, so maybe things can go in a good direction. But for now, Disney’s playing catch up.
DLC is not a fix
I have no doubts that Capcom is planning to fix things. In fact, I know that they are going to fix the issue over a lack of dark-skinned characters. At the moment, we know of two DLC characters, one of whom is Black Panther. I have two misgivings with respect to this fact. Firstly, the fact that anyone wanting to play as a dark-skinned character has to pay extra money to do so is kind of crappy in and of itself. Secondly, why is Black Panther a DLC character in the first gosh darned place? Black Panther has a lot of buzz going for him. His comics are doing swimmingly, his appearance in Captain America: Civil War was well-received, and he has a pretty significant film coming out next year. I guess they wanted to hold him off until then, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Increasingly, more and more people are valuing diversity in their games, and this is especially true in franchise fighters where diversity exists in the source material. I don’t think that Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite is going to bomb due to this, but it’s certainly not going to do the game any favors.
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