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"Runaways" Movie Casting Breakdown 
5th-Aug-2010 10:24 am
jedi
The casting breakdown for Marvel's "Runaways" movie was released today. You can view the official casting website here and articles about the casting here and here.

The Runaways crew is pretty diverse as comic book teams go, at various points in the story there's African American and Japanese American team leaders, a girl who has a BMI above 20, a Latino Catholic, and lesbian and genderqueer characters.

Fans of the comics will be familiar with the characters to be used in the adaptation...



Alex Wilder
Boy 1: Very smart, natural leader, in need of a father figure
Male, African American, must play 16-18
Must be at least 16 by January 2011

Chase Stein
Boy 2: A rebel, ignores rules and authority, wounded inside
Male, must play 16-18
Must be at least 16 by January 2011

Nico Minoru
Girl 1: Uniquely beautiful, nurturing but guarded
Female, must play 16-18
Must be at least 16 by January 2011

Gert Yorkes
Girl 2: Chubby oddball, smart and verbal
Female, must play 16-18
Must be at least 16 by January 2011

Karolina Dean
Girl 3: Conventionally beautiful, with an unchecked ego
Female, must play 15-18
Must be at least 16 by January 2011

Molly Hayes
Girl 4: An innocent, wide-eyed and overprotected
Female, must play 8-10
Must be at least 9 by January 2011


So these casting calls follow a lot of Hollywood conventions when it comes to breakdowns, namely the idea that characters who are white don't need ethnicity mentioned in the breakdown because it's taken for granted that white actors will submit (but a character who is black, like Alex, does require specification.)

What's particularly of concern is that the breakdown for Nico--who is explicitly featured in the comics as a several-generations Japanese American--does not mention that the character is Asian, or that Asian American actresses should submit. Nico is simply described as "uniquely beautiful" as opposed to the blonde Karolina's "conventionally beautiful" descriptor.

Although Runaways is an ensemble, Japanese American Goth Girl Nico Minoru was the series' predominant heroine, featured on the cover of the very first issue.



A Hollywood agent trawling casting breakdowns for an Asian American client would not likely stumble upon this role that is tailor-made for an Asian American breakout star. It certainly doesn't sound like Marvel is prioritizing actresses of color in this search. And readers of racebending.com know that just recently, unclear and biased casting calls for The Last Airbender led to the erasure of characters' ethnicities and reinforced Hollywood's glass ceilings for lead roles.

Racebending.com will absolutely follow up on this casting breakdown. This looks like an easily corrected oversight, so we will contact the right people at Marvel about this issue. If you have an anonymous tip on this situation or contact information for the higher ups, please email us at mlee@racebending.com
Comments 
5th-Aug-2010 05:35 pm (UTC)
Holy shit, Marvel! I really hope they see the errors of their way and don't give bullshit excuses like Frank Marshall did when he blamed the biased casting calls for TLA on a third party.
5th-Aug-2010 05:36 pm (UTC)
that's just... wow. i mean, why specify that Alex is African American, then? why not just make it a free for all?
i recently started reading this series, and finished the 10th digest last week. they actually state several times that Nico is asian-- so it's not one of those, "well, they never actually said she WASN'T white!"

i really hope it is just an oversight.
5th-Aug-2010 05:44 pm (UTC)
i mean, why specify that Alex is African American, then?

because
SPOILER
he turns out to be a villain so he can be a PoC anyway.
END SPOILER
(Deleted comment)
5th-Aug-2010 05:56 pm (UTC)
Noooo, Hollywood, don't whitewash Runaways, too. =(

And this isn't exactly unrelated (nor directly related), but I found this article about being a "nerd of color" to be a good read, if none of you guys have seen it already: http://io9.com/5604617/what-its-like-to-be-an-noc-nerd-of-color
5th-Aug-2010 07:17 pm (UTC)
This is a great read. Thanks for the link! :)
5th-Aug-2010 06:06 pm (UTC)
before the html fail all I was really going to say was "uniquely beautiful" buh? Well at least they didn't say "exotic"... but not much...
5th-Aug-2010 06:13 pm (UTC)
Irony being that if they DID say 'exotic', then it might be a trigger to prompt agents to send their Asian-American actors to audition. *SNORT*
5th-Aug-2010 06:10 pm (UTC)
Oh. Just.... no. I only read a chapter or two, and I do remember there being more than one PoC.
5th-Aug-2010 06:33 pm (UTC)
We should get screencaps of the casting sheet on the original site before it all goes away.

there's African American and Japanese American team leaders, a girl who has a BMI above 20, a Latino Catholic, and lesbian and genderqueer characters.

BLAHHH. If they're already failing about the casting for ethnicity, I can only imagine how they're gonna warp the other aspects of the characters.

Especially because it looks like it's Disney, and they bleach everything? (Maybe I'm wrong about that?) Yuck.

5th-Aug-2010 08:11 pm (UTC)
We should get screencaps of the casting sheet on the original site before it all goes away.

Check.
5th-Aug-2010 06:37 pm (UTC)
"uniquely beautiful" = exotic?

ETA: D'oh! nthdraft beat me to it. That's what I get for not reading the comments.

Edited at 2010-08-05 06:38 pm (UTC)
5th-Aug-2010 06:43 pm (UTC)
Yeah I used to read Runaways. I was mostly bored, because all the characters are BORING. (That robot dude? Omg. His personality is "robot"). And all the girls are pretty shitty. Even though there are a lot of female characters none of them are very deep or exciting.

And SPOILER They kill off Gert, of course!! OF COURSE!! The only girl with something more interesting about her than "I have a super power!"!

I liked the big reveal of the first arc, as I didn't know it was coming, ha ha! But that was about it.
5th-Aug-2010 07:37 pm (UTC)
well that spoiler figures too... grrrr
5th-Aug-2010 08:17 pm (UTC)
I really hope they aren't planning on making Nico white :/ Hopefully they'll listen to the complaints.
(In addition to the all the already mentioned fail in the casting call(which there sure was plenty of), there were some things that irked me with regards to sexism as well. The traits ascribed to the girls really focus on their looks/perceived beauty compared to those ascribed to the boys, and many of their other traits make them seem so...stereotypical. I haven't read the comics so I can't tell if it's just the casting agency misrepresenting the characters as so often happens...)
5th-Aug-2010 08:21 pm (UTC)
also notice that two girls are called "beautiful" while the other is called "oddball chubby". Because, you know...

And nowhere does it say anything about how the boys should look. in this paradigm, girls should "look" things (beautiful, exotic, chubby, innocent) while boys should "be" things (smart, leader, rebel).

Fuck that with a chainsaw.
5th-Aug-2010 08:36 pm (UTC)
also why is Alex "natural leader" and Nico (co leader) "nurturing"

SOMEONE find me a second chainsaw
5th-Aug-2010 08:49 pm (UTC) - OT
Isn't Nico generally a guy's name?
5th-Aug-2010 09:19 pm (UTC) - Re: OT
sometimes short for "Nicole" for those who find "Nikki" annoying as all hell (like me :-) )
5th-Aug-2010 10:00 pm (UTC)
Excellent point about how the casting emphasizes the girls' looks, but the boys' characters.

I find the "conventionally beautiful" phrase to be kinda LOLsome, myself. It sounds like code for "bland, blah, boring, cookie-cutter, dime-a-dozen looks."
Whenever I hear the phrase "unconventional beauty," I think of someone who, while very attractive, has a funny ears or a goofy smile or something. (Like Liam Neeson and his crooked nose, as seen in my user pic.) Which describes most of the actors I've ever crushed on, come to think of it.
6th-Aug-2010 05:27 am (UTC)
Whenever I hear the phrase "unconventional beauty," I think of someone who, while very attractive, has a funny ears or a goofy smile or something.

I agree - I tend to think that it means the director/producer/whatever is looking for an actor that isn't from the same mold as the current "beautiful" actors in Hollywood. (Nothing against those actors - I think many of them are quite good looking, but Hollywood does have a bad habit of only giving leading roles to men and women that look a certain way) The "unconventionally beautiful" are the ones that have slightly quirky looks, or just stand out in some way.

Though, I don't doubt that in some cases, it DOES have to do with exoticism.
5th-Aug-2010 10:39 pm (UTC)
I really hope Marvel has improved in the years since that awful Generation X TV movie where Jubilee was played by a white actor. Please studio get this casting right.
5th-Aug-2010 10:41 pm (UTC)
Omigosh, omigosh... Runaways definitely had its flaws, but they felt like kids who kicked so much butt (even Alex). I liked it.

If they screw this up... if they screw this up... X-/
6th-Aug-2010 12:07 am (UTC)
I KNOW. *headdesk* I adored Runaways as a concept and as its base characterization--not the characters' fault they've gotten some crap writers along the line. But if they screw up this film...

Runways is a great introduction to the main Marvel universe for the new and clueless fan. If they screw this up, they are actively wrecking recruitment opportunities for the whole franchise, which has suffered significantly in recent years because they are turning off old fans with too many multi-title epic crossover events without gaining any new ones via helpful newbie young-adult-and-up titles like Young Avengers (which has undergone some serious writing clusterscrews) or Runaways (ditto).
6th-Aug-2010 12:30 am (UTC)
Oh. Dear. God. Not my favorite comic series! ;_; You all know how important it is too to cast them all as what they are in the comics! It's not just about ethnicity, but the communities these characters come from too. Superhero(in)e's, Aliens, Supernatural, Organized crime, etc. That is what made it so special to me, besides my obsession/passion with stories of kids/teens/young people that have evil/criminal/dysfunctional parents. :p

I wonder how much say Vaughan has in this film. He's writing it, the last time I checked. It's most likely not going to be up to him though because he isn't the one directing the film.

I don't know what to say...I'm disappointed in the wording of the casting call. The director definitely has a say in the casting. M Night definitely did. Maybe we can use this as an opportunity to catch the casting directors/creators/director, etc. before this gets out of hand. And if not, we'll just have to spread awareness (most importantly) and most likely boycott this film too.
(Deleted comment)
6th-Aug-2010 02:11 am (UTC)
Yeah, I don't think I'd ever use 'unchecked ego' to describe Karolina.
6th-Aug-2010 02:50 am (UTC)
goobalicious just linked to the article you guys put on the website at the_hostel. You guys were quick!

Most people who posted there are pissed off.
6th-Aug-2010 02:48 pm (UTC)
It really bothers me that a few posters there are saying "calm down" and disregarding being upset over this casting call as "jumping the gun."
6th-Aug-2010 11:13 am (UTC)
Well, I'm definitely auditioning for Gert. Even if they fucked things up by emphasizing the chubbiness over her personality, it's not every day you get chubbiness as a desired characteristic at all.
8th-Aug-2010 06:57 am (UTC)
Good luck!
6th-Aug-2010 08:13 pm (UTC) - UPDATE 8/6
Made some calls today to some people at Disney and Marvel, also contacted the actual film production...we'll see what happens!
8th-Aug-2010 05:56 am (UTC) - Re: UPDATE 8/6
Yay! :) *keeping fingers crossed*
16th-Aug-2010 02:20 am (UTC)
Where are you getting the info that girl 1 and girl 3 are Nico and Karolina, respectfully? The official casting site doesn't have their names listed and neither do either articles. Granted, one of them should say Asian-American for Nico, but as it stands couldn't you swap Karolina and Nico's names and have the descriptions still make sense? While Gert is visibly chubby and Molly is younger (thus making their character descriptions fairly obvious), its arguable 'unchecked ego' fits Nico, and 'nurturing' fits Karolina. Also debatable is that Nico is somehow unconventionally beautiful while Karolina is conventional. By whose standards?

Just curious where you got the info that specifies which girl is which numbered role.
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