Sara Reads: Fridging, Manpain, and the Cis-White-Dude Hero: Lazy Storytelling in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
You’d think that B.J. Britt, the actor who portrays Agent Trip, would have been a shoe-in to join the regular cast of the show in season two. (During a Q&A hosted by Comic Book Resources before the season two premiere, in fact, more than one person asked about the possibility of Britt joining the show as a regular cast member) But it wasn’t him. Instead, the new member of the regular cast was an English actor named Nick Blood who had been brought in to portray Lance Hunter.It’s not necessarily curious that the writers of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would bring in Hunter—he’s an established character in the 616 universe with ties to S.H.I.E.L.D.—but it is curious that they would bring him in as a regular, and obviously with every intention of sliding him into the hero role that was vacated by Ward, when they already have someone—an awesome someone, a someone who is adored by the fans—waiting to take that role.Think about it.Agent Trip is, as has been noted, loyal, dependable, and a badass. He’s witty, he’s warm, he’s an adorable tech geek, and he’s a freaking legacy. His grandfather was a Howling Commando, for Stan Lee’s sake. He should be the guy. But he’s not the guy. Lance Hunter is.There’s an elephant in the room, people: Antoine Triplett is an African-American character.Lance Hunter is a British mercenary with a heart of gold; he’s a man with a checkered past who just needs someone to believe in him. He’s a cis-white-dude, and he’s ready to be a hero. And, more importantly, the cis-white-dudes who traditionally run everything in the entertainment industry are ready for him to be the hero. They aren’t ready, in any way, shape, or form, for Antoine Triplett to be the hero.There’s so much wrong with this that it’s hard to believe it gets worse.But it does.
Ok, but in all fairness, BJ Britt is already on another TV show so he can’t really be a full cast member on AOS
I think the point is less about BJ and his availability, and more that once again, AoS is giving the hero narrative, and regular series spot, to yet another bland white dude, but with a British accent this time.
Trip is a great example of a heroic character who should have been made a regular (had BJ been available), but there are other characters who could’ve been made a series regular, and given the heroic role, like Akela Amador, or Mike Peterson, or Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders is available, as far as I know), but AoS deliberately chose another white guy and fridged a lesbian character for his manpain.
It’s a choice that shows where their priorities lie, and it’s worrying.
Yes, indeed. Thank you so much for bringing that point forward.
Any of the characters you mention would have been excellent choices to add as a series regular. (Akela Amador! AKELA AMADOR! Jeez, talk about a character with a tragic past who’d be an amazing foil for Coulson. I would kill for a story arc about the two of them getting a second chance to work, grow, and heal together as mentor and mentee.) But hell, they’re bringing in Bobbi Morse as a recurring character, and she’s got a huge and fascinating history to play with if the writers were looking to add an established-in-the-comics character to the lineup.
If feel like the sidekicking of the Trip character is just one symptom of what tumblr user roane72 called the AoS “cis-white-male fixation.” I see the fixation particularly in the writers’ special-snowflaking of Phil Coulson in season one, their ongoing obsession with Ward and his tragic past, and inversely in their penchant for subjecting women and PoC characters to body horror experiences. (Man, I really want them to stop doing that.)
Worrying priorities is exactly right.