John Boyega Applauds Marvel for ‘Elevation’ of Diverse Characters

John Boyega appeared on NPR’s 'Fresh Air' this week and gave credit to Marvel Studios for elevating Black characters like Anthony Mackie's Falcon.

John Boyega


John Boyega

John Boyega appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air this week to talk about his career, including his breakout roles in Star Wars and Steve McQueen’s 2020 Amazon Prime project Small Axe

During the interview, Boyega praised Marvel Studios—which resides under the Disney umbrella along with Lucasfilm—for elevating Black characters in an authentic way, like Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson claiming the role of Captain America, in contrast to Star Wars.

“But [viewers] forget that there’s a big process, and especially when it comes to studio films and characters. The characters are only as good as the moments that you give them,” Boyega said. “When we talk about, you know, Captain America and him kind of facing off against Thanos and his army, when you talk about these moments that are given to characters, it’s only because these moments are written by somebody. These moments are put in there on purpose to elevate characters.”

“We’ve got people now watching Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” Boyega continued, “and a lot of people have been commenting about the elevation of Falcon’s character in the series and how they’ve really done well with bringing him up, which I also agree as well. You know, that’s because you give characters these special moments. But then what happens when, you know, some moments feel like you’re being bypassed and it kind of goes for years and years and things pile on?”

Listen to this terrific interview with John Boyega — Finn from the #StarWars franchise & recent award winner for “Small Axe” — with @npr’s @samsanders:

— Wishful Thinking | (@wishful_thnkng) May 20, 2021

While it’s uncertain if The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will get a second season, showrunner Malcolm Spellman is now working on Captain America 4, which will inevitably star Mackie. Other marquee properties on the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s horizon include Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Ryan Coogler’s Wakanda-based Disney+ series, and the Nia DaCosta-helmed Captain Marvel sequel The Marvels. The latter will bring in Teyonah Parris’ WandaVision breakout Monica Rambeau as well as Iman Vellani, a.k.a. Kamala Khan, whose Ms. Marvel series is looking at a late 2021 Disney+ premiere.

This isn’t the first time Boyega has advocated for more progressive, equitable casting and storytelling. Last year, the 29-year-old criticized Disney for mishandling Star Wars’ characters of color. 

“What I would say to Disney is do not bring out a Black character, market them to be much more important in the franchise than they are, and then have them pushed to the side,” Boyega told British GQ last September. “It’s not good. I’ll say it straight up.”

“I’m the only [Star Wars] cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race,” he continued. “Let’s just leave it like that. It makes you angry with a process like that. It makes you much more militant; it changes you.”

He expounded on those comments in the new Fresh Air interview as well, available in full via NPR

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