"Why is a female superhero of color such a big deal?"
That question was right at the forefront of last night's episode of "The Nightly Show," as host Larry Wilmore assembled a panel to talk about race, gender and pop culture — specifically where comic books are concerned. Comics are getting more and more diverse, what with the arrival of characters like Muslim superhero Kamala Khan, and it's not sitting well with a certain section of fandom.
"People are afraid of change, and they don't like it when their toys are played with," said Marvel's director of content and character development Sana Amanat, one of the co-creators of the new Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan. "We're trying to show that we're not trying to take away your toys; we're just showing them in a different light."
Nerd of Mouth podcast host Mike Lawrence agreed, saying that some fans are fiercely loyal to pop culture touchstones from their past — even if such loyalty ignores a fundamental truth.
"The thing that no nerd wants to admit is that most of the things we cherish aren't as good as we remember it," he said. "When I saw the new 'Ninja Turtles,' I was like, 'This isn't my Ninja Turtles! My Ninja Turtles had Vanilla Ice and was pure, and my parents were still together!"
Veteran comic book creator Phil Jimenez was on hand to weigh in on the debate as well, saying that negative reactions to increasing diversity in comics comes down to a "combination of experiences and ideologies."
"The idea that being a nerd is separate from one's religious, moral and political beliefs is strange to me," he said. "We bring everything to our decision making on a daily basis."
Watch the full panel discussion below: