Pop Culture

#LetCaptainAmericaKeepHisGirlfriend

Create diversity with new, original roles, but don't change storylines of iconic characters just to champion causes

Give Captain America a boyfriend. Make James Bond female.

These are some of the recent campaigns that pop culture fans have been rallying support for lately, all in the name of making Hollywood more diverse.

But I will not be backing these causes.

Do not get me wrong. I am all for a more diverse and, many would argue, more progressive Hollywood.

Rather than demand that Captain America suddenly romance his male best friend Bucky Barnes, or for James Bond to morph into Jane Bond, it would be better for Hollywood to make films about new and original diverse characters with their own story lines.

Given how popular Hollywood products are around the world and the great power they have in influencing cultures, they should better reflect reality. That means that Hollywood movies should not only be about straight white males.

But in demanding that iconic characters such as Captain America become gay, and championing Jane Bond rather than James Bond, fans are forcibly altering storylines and making them completely nonsensical.

In the case of Captain America, it is an established fact in both the films and comics that the superhero has always loved women. Much has been said about his intense romantic love for Peggy Carter and, later, her niece Sharon.

If the viral hashtag #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend - a top trending topic on Twitter in recent months - were to become true, then all of that preceding back story would become obsolete.

For Captain America to suddenly have a boyfriend in an upcoming movie would be both bizarre and completely out of character.

Meanwhile, James Bond's persona is that he is the ultimate man's man and ladies' man. For him to play out as a woman goes against the whole idea of his character.

Feminists should also understand that creating a separate female Bond would hardly make the original character less chauvinistic.

As much as I disagree with the specifics of these fan campaigns, they are nonetheless important because they shed light on Hollywood's desperate lack of diversity.

But rather than demand that Captain America suddenly romance his male best friend Bucky Barnes, or for James Bond to morph into Jane Bond, it would be better for Hollywood to make films about new and original diverse characters with their own storylines.

Marvel Comics, which publishes the Captain America comics, has its own stable of openly gay superheroes such as Wiccan and Hulkling, who are members of the Young Avengers team. Would it not make more sense for fans to campaign for Hollywood to make films about them instead?

Some fans will argue that these characters are too little-known to make much of an impact. That is why they must ask for someone as famous and mainstream as Captain America to be the gay representative in the first place.

But if the stories are told well and the characters fleshed out properly, even the little guys will have their time in the sun.

Look at popular TV series Agents Of Shield, which introduced its first gay superhero last year - Joey Gutierrez (played by Juan Pablo Raba).

Despite it being a supporting role, he has since won over fans for his cool ability to melt metal objects. More importantly, he stands out because he is so well-written and he feels believable.

And instead of having a female James Bond, fans should ask for Hollywood to create more strong female roles instead.

British actress Emilia Clarke has voiced her intention to play a female James Bond and no one doubts her ability to play a seductive bad***.

Her famous role as Mother Of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen on TV series Game Of Thrones is proof enough.

But rather than have her play a role that has to be awkwardly linked to the Bond canon for no reason, it would be more interesting for both the actress and the audience if she were to play an entirely separate and strong female role - one with no Bond baggage.

After all, Charlize Theron, who came out of nowhere in Mad Max: Fury Road as the uber-fierce Furiosa - a new character created just for the latest instalment of the Mad Max film franchise - wowed viewers so much that she arguably overshadowed Mad Max himself.

For Hollywood to create more characters such as Joey Gutierrez and Furiosa - now that is a campaign that I would happily support.

•Follow Yip Wai Yee on Twitter @STyipwaiyee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2016, with the headline '#LetCaptainAmericaKeepHisGirlfriend'. Print Edition | Subscribe