Marvel Comics just announced an new animation franchise featuring popular female, LGBT, and POC heroes: Marvel Rising will launch next year with six four-minute digital shorts focusing on Ghost-Spider, an alternate universe version of Gwen Stacy who was bit by a radioactive spider instead of Peter Parker.
The shorts will followed by a feature length film Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors starring America Chavez, Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, Patriot, Inferno, and others. (Steven Weber, Tyler Posey and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Ming-Na Wen and Chloe Bennet will all provide voicework.)
The inclusion of Chavez, also known as Miss America, marks the first time an openly gay character will appear in a Marvel animated series. (Iceman wasn’t out during Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.) Voiced by Cierra Ramirez (The Fosters, The Secret Life of an America Teenager), she’s described as “a strong, independent young hero whose painful past drives her to reject leadership and remain a loner.”
The franchise is making strides in other areas, as well: Ms. Marvel is the company’s first Muslim superhero with their own solo comic.
“We wanted to show the world that these heroes are important to the Marvel Universe,” says Sana Amanat, co-creator of Ms. Marvel and one of Marvel Rising’s executive producers. “There is a character for every kind of Marvel fan out there.”
Adds Cort Lane, Marvel’s openly gay vice president of animation development, “It’s an amazing action-adventure story [but] it’s all stuff you can connect with and feel like ’These heroes are a lot like me.'”
Earlier this year, the CW announced Freedom Fighters: The Ray would arrive on online next year, marking the first gay DC Comics superhero to appear in animated form.