Ethan Hawke stars in the new live-action adaptation of Marvel’s Avengers, and has replaced Robert Pattinson as Pepper Stein. What is more, several other cast members have been added to the film including Chris Evans, Don Cheadock, and Martin Freeman. The popular comic book series and its associated films have always been known for their large ensemble casts, and these new additions only serve to strengthen this identity.
The new film is set for general release on April 25, 2021. It will be the sixth installment in the Avengers franchise and the first since 2012’s The Avengers. Disney has opted to make the change to the lead actor due to the diminishing box office returns of its Marvel Cinematic Universe over the past several years. With Disney’s decision to push for more live-action adaptations of their comic book properties, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige stated that they “always intended for Robert to be a part of the team.”
The studio was previously set to release an untitled Spiderman film in 2022 with Tom Holland in the lead role. This film is now planned to be released on June 10, 2022. Sony has since taken over distribution of all upcoming Spiderman films from Disney. The studio hopes that the upcoming films will help to establish a new live-action continuity for the character, and will lead to a fresh start for the franchise. They are also set to release a Joker film on July 24, 2024, with Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role. The studio will also be co-producing the upcoming Black Widow solo film along with Disney. The first Black Widow solo film will be released on May 1, 2022.
Why Is This Big News?
Marvel’s Avengers has always been one of the most popular and highest-grossing superhero franchises of all time. The success of the film series is largely thanks to its ensemble casts, which usually consist of a grouping of superhero icons. This is probably one of the reasons why the studio decided to switch the role of Pepper Stein to that of a supporting character. Ethan Hawke is an award-winning and experienced actor, who is best known for his roles in the films Reality Bites and The Magnificent Seven, as well as TV series like The X-Files and Happy.
Hawke’s involvement in the film was announced last year, and he was later joined by the rest of the cast, which now includes Chris Evans, Don Cheadock, and Martin Freeman. Of course, with the recent COVID-19 pandemic, all of these movies had to be postponed or put on hold due to concerns about public safety. Marvel’s Avengers was eventually released in IMAX theaters April 30, 2021.
Disney has proven themselves to be among the most innovative companies in our time, and their commitment to quality and diversity is unparalleled. This is one of the reasons why the studio decided to make such a drastic shift, and give the part of Pepper Stein to a black actor for the first time in the franchise’s history. Hawke’s casting was not only a bold decision, but it also speaks to the larger trend of live-action Hollywood films adapting comic book superheroes to film. It is yet to be seen if Hawke’s casting will pay off in terms of increased box office numbers, but it’s always a great idea to mix genres and not get pigeonholed into one type of movie.
Why Does This Matter?
Comic books and their associated films have always been a bit of a male-dominated world, and it’s not uncommon for movies to whitewash historical figures and alienate women. Marvel’s Avengers is a prime example of this, as its main characters are all men. However, the film series has always had a diverse cast, with many prominent roles for women, including the aforementioned Pepper Stein. It might be easy for this type of content to be overlooked in the shadow of the massive Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it’s important to remember that comics have always been a reflection of society and its taboos, not a stand-alone entity. The inclusion of a black actor as the primary protagonist of a film based on a Marvel character is a promising sign that Hollywood is finally aware of this fact and is making a concerted effort to change it.
The inclusion of more black and female directors in Hollywood has also lead to a 50% increase in the number of women and minority directors working on films. These figures speak for themselves, as they are significantly higher than the percentage of women and minority directors in the industry as a whole. Diversity in media is an important issue during this pandemic as well, as studies have shown that audiences respond better to content that reflects their own experiences. Hopefully, we will see more films with diverse casts and crews, as it is always a great source of pride in a country to see its inhabitants represented on screen.