MOVIES

The Sentry’s Race Is Crucial

Sentry is no doubt a complicated hero, even without his race factoring into his portrayal. He is a deeply tortured superstar who constantly has to battle between recognition and his duties as a hero, realizing it’s best to be forgotten for the greater good. This is the type of character that Asians in Hollywood simply don’t get to play. Historically speaking, Asians are often sidelined in Hollywood productions, given minor or inconsequential roles. And, for a staggeringly long period, the act of yellowface was a prevalent Hollywood trend.

If “Shang-Chi” was a step in the right direction, then Sentry looks to be a commitment to giving Asian actors more consequential and impactful roles in the MCU. If anything, this is exactly what Steven Yeun is doing with his acting career. The Oscar nominee’s CV has been padded with brilliant appearances in projects like “Beef” and “Minari,” which expertly seek to tackle and dismantle established stereotypes surrounding Asian people and communities. Asian actors are often given stereotypical roles that invalidate or mischaracterize cultural norms, so it will be interesting to see just how prominent of a role Sentry’s race plays in “Thunderbolts.” 

Because the comic version of Sentry isn’t dependent on his inherent whiteness, it’s great if Marvel gives such an exciting role to an actor from a different race. This is a step in the right direction. A 2023 study from Luminate (via NBC News) says that Asian representation is continuing to grow, with cinematic prominence increasing from 5.9% to 7.7%. Clearly, efforts are being made, and by having an Asian Sentry, Marvel should be able to explore the character in a unique way that expands his mythos and impact. 

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