Over the past couple of years, the superhero movie has transcended its genre to become a reflection of the world we live in. But, as Zoe Saldana is pointing out, the stigma around doing a superhero film has yet to change.
The actress, who has roles in Guardians of the Galaxy and the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, is speaking out against people who “look down” on actors for taking a paycheck from Marvel. “I’ve been in rooms with people in this industry who are great at what they do, but they’re absolutely elitist and they look down at movies like the Marvel films or actors like myself,” she tells Net-a-Porter in a new interview. “They think we’re selling out in some way. Every time they speak I feel so disappointed in them, because whenever you see pictures of people in this industry who donate their time to children in need, it’s these actors that live in the world that you feel is selling out.
For Saldana, discrediting Marvel films isn’t just about the actors who star in them—it’s dismissing the children who revere them as well. “That actor takes time out of their life and sits down with that five-year-old and says, ‘I see you, I hear you, and you matter’,” she says. “Those elitists should be a little more cognizant about what playing a superhero means to a young child. Because you’re not just dissing me, you’re dissing what that child considers important in their world.”
That’s definitely true, and as more inclusive films like Black Panther and Wonder Woman get made, the superhero genre is arguably more important than ever so kids can see themselves represented on the screen. For that reason, Saldana takes it personally when Marvel films are simply written off. “I feel so proud to be living in space, to be playing green and blue aliens, to inspire, primarily, the younger generations,” she says. “I remember what it was like to be young and to feel completely excluded out of the mainstream conversation of life because I was just little and unimportant and ‘other.’”
That inclusivity is what draws people to superhero films, according to Saldana. “I work with filmmakers who gravitated to this genre because they were exiles in their own right, excluded from a mainstream conversation,” Saldana says. “They found their world and they were able to imagine the unimaginable. Everything about how they create, and how they invite characters to join them, is absolutely inclusive.”