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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Runaways: My Disappointment with the Open Casting Call

Thursday, August 05, 2010 Posted by Unknown , , , No comments
Today, Marvel/Disney announced that they will hold open auditions for their upcoming movie "Runaways". If you're not a comic book person, Runaways is Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona's story of a group of awkward kids that rebel against their parents. Basic, angsty teen stuff except that their parents are a group of super villains, and through their acts of rebellion, the Runaways actually do good to right their parents wrongs.

I've read the entire run while sitting in the X-Office, and I've come to love these characters very very much, and what disappoints me so much today is the lack of emphasis on the role that ethnicity plays in the character's lives. In order for that to make sense, you'll first need to see what the casting call is so here goes:

Boy 1: Very smart, natural leader, in need of a father figure.
Male, African American, must play 16-18

Boy 2: A rebel, ignores rules and authority, wounded inside.
Male, must play 16-18

Girl 1: Uniquely beautiful, nurturing but guarded
Female, must play 16-18

Girl 2: Chubby oddball, smart and verbal
Female, must play 16-18

Girl 3: Conventionally beautiful, with an unchecked ego
Female, must play 15-18

Girl 4: An innocent, wide-eyed and overprotected
Female, must play 8-10

So what's my problem with this? Boy #1 is clearly Alex Wilder, the leader of the Runaways. He is an African American boy in the story, and so in the casting call, it clearly says they need a "Male, African American, that can play 16-18". That I'm fine with, but Girl #1 who is EXTREMELY important to the series is a girl by the name of Nico Minoru. She is a Japanese American character and a very strong willed teen. What makes her such a great draw not only as a female but as a female of color is that she doesn't fit into the stereotype that have existed for her. She is not meek; she doens't have bound feet; she isn't a dragon lady or a geisha. She's a teenage girl struggling with normal, everyday things. But in the casting call, there is no mention of needing an "Asian/Asian American" actress. I might be overlooking it, but why have Alex's character call for an African American male to remain true to the comics but not call for an Asian American female to remain true to Nico?