Not So New, Not So Different: On Red Wolf and Indigenous Representation in the New Marvel
By James Leask
If it isn't obvious why this is problematical, Leask explains it:
First, it takes the dangerous position that in the late 19th century, aboriginal people pretty much only dressed in breeches, loincloths and a startling lack of upper body wear. Of course, this isn’t true; not only did aboriginal people wear a wide variety of clothes, including, yes, shirts and coats (I’d like to see present-day Red Wolf William Talltrees brave his home Montana winters without it), but since contact with European settlers, many aboriginal people had begun dressing in European-style dress, a number that only increased as the two (to oversimplify it) groups co-existed, intermingled, and came together to form the distinct aboriginal people, the Métis.
My point is, this could end up being something smart and progressive, potentially even from an aboriginal creator. This could be exactly what I asked for.
But it doesn’t look like it. This is just a promotional image, but it’s the image that Marvel decided to sell their diversity with. It’s the image they decided to present of an aboriginal person in 2015. It’s an Injun.
Axel Alonso is right, that image of Red Wolf “resembles the Marvel Universe that 60 years of readers have come to love.” The problem is, that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Yes, the old Red Wolf was problematical as well. But that costume was designed in 1970 or thereabouts. After 45 years, can't Marvel come up with up with something better?
Even the notorious Tonto wore full buckskins in the 1950s. So 65 years later, we've literally made no progress in our portrayals of fictional Indians. Wow.