Marvel Does It Again, Eradicates Character’s History and Heritage From MCU: Report

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Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness with Joe Locke and Kevin Feige

As the company readies more of its Marvel TV shows, they do it again. According to a new announcement, the studio looks set to erase a key part of a character’s heritage in a future installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Kevin Feige at D23 Expo
Credit: D23

As Marvel Studios delves deeper into Phase Five, a lot of fans are looking forward to the next batch of Disney+ and Marvel television shows. So far, with just Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023) under its belt for the fifth Phase and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023) just around the corner, there has yet to be a new streaming series released.

At one time, there was a huge slate of six Marvel TV shows reportedly lined up for this year. Yes, it seemed that What If…? Season 2, Loki Season 2, Secret Invasion, Ironheart, Echo, and Agatha: Coven of Chaos would all be dropping on The Walt Disney Company’s streaming service this year, but now that is not the case.

Tom Hiddleston as Loki in 'Loki' TV show
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: ‘The Marvels’ Just Changed Disney+ Forever

With so much in motion, and the Marvel machine facing increasing criticism for its content and direction, the first real whispers of Agatha: Coven of Chaos have been making their way online — and for some, a huge blow may be incoming.

The spiritual successor to WandaVision, where Kathyrn Hahn’s (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery) Agatha Harkness was first introduced, Agatha: Coven of Chaos looks set to follow on from the events of WandaVision after Agatha was left trapped in her Westview Agnes form. Not much is known of the story, but as for the cast, fans know who will be starring in this upcoming Marvel TV show.

Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness
Credit: Marvel Studios

Jac Schaeffer’s Marvel series will star Hahn as Agatha Harkness, Debra Jo Rupp (Friends) as Sharon Davis, and Patti LuPone (Beau Is Afraid) as Lilia Calderu. Emma Caulfield Ford (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) will reprise her WandaVision role as Sarah Proctor. Cast in undisclosed roles are Aubrey Plaza (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) and Joe Locke (Heartstopper).

LuPone recently divulged information about the show, revealing that Locke would be the “familiar” in the witch’s coven. However, that is now being contested as a recent leak shows the Heartstopper breakout cast as Billy Kaplan, AKA Wiccan.

(left to right) Billy and Tommy, Vision, and Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
Credit: Marvel Studios

In Marvel Comics, Billy Kaplan first appeared in “Young Avengers #1” in 2005 and was created by writer Allan Heinberg and artist Jim Cheung, and as well as being one of the Marvel Universe’s most prominent gay superheroes, he is also canonically Jewish.

Joe Locke is not Jewish, and this is where the fan reaction has come from.

Joe Locke as Charlie in Heartstopper on Netflix
Credit: Netflix

In the comics, Billy Kaplan/Wiccan discovers he is the long-lost twin of Tommy Shepherd/Speed, both of whom are the reincarnated twin sons of Wanda Maximoff and Vision; their children were first seen in WandaVision and then later in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022). For context on Billy’s Jewish identity, ScreenRant writes:

For much of his early appearances, Billy was only meta-textually Jewish, since his creator Alan Heinberg put a lot of himself into the character. But in recent years, it’s been more explicit. Especially considering his second wedding to Teddy incorporated Jewish and Kree/Skrull traditions.

Wiccan in the comic using his abilities
Credit: Marvel Comics

And after the call sheet leak detailed Locke as playing Billy Kaplan, Marvel fans raged over another instance of Jewish erasure in the MCU. Last year, contention over Oscar Isaac playing the canonically Jewish Marc Spector, AKA Moon Knight, erupted after one Marvel writer said his heritage did not matter.

On Twitter, @oofouchoww wrote:

if you’re curious to know why jewish people may be upset about the fact that joe locke could be playing billy kaplan, learn about his history

@GeekyKaplan weighed in on the casting report, saying:

You do understand that Jewish erasure is a problem and you can’t just “convert” to Judaism. It’s like a YEARS long process. And Joe Locke isn’t Jewish. the odds of billy being portrayed as Jewish diminish given Marvel’s track record. Jewish representation is important.

Another thought from @phastos_ echoed the above sentiments:

im not against Joe Locke potentially being Wiccan because of his looks, im against him being Wiccan because Billy Kaplan is jewish and jewish voices need to be listened to. Joe Locke should NOT be Wiccan

As did @kidkults, who wrote:

the main uproar is in response to the fact that billy kaplan is a very explicitly jewish character and joe locke is very much not jewish

The same user went on to add:

and so its not really a hatred towards joe himself (even though he is sort of at fault for accepting the role), but moreso at the mcu for continuing their theme of eradicating and erasing a lot of representation ESPECIALLY within wandas family specifically

Of course, Marvel nor Disney have confirmed who Locke will definitely be playing, but it does look set to be Billy Kaplan. Only time will tell if the studio portrays him as Jewish in the MCU, despite Locke not being so.

That said, while fans have been noticing this erasure of Jewishness in the MCU, the upcoming Fantastic Four movie aims to feature a Jewish actor in the role of Ben Grimm, AKA The Thing, as confirmed by director Matt Shakman.

Bob Iger interviewed by ABC
Credit: ABC News

Related: Marvel Just Removed Tom Hiddleston’s ‘Loki’ TV Show From the Schedule Indefinitely

Marvel TV Shows

Upon Bob Iger’s return as CEO of Disney, his main focus lay with the profitability of Disney+, which looks to turn a profit by the end of fiscal 2024 — according to Disney Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy. Then, around the same time, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige alluded to a stripped-back Disney+ slate as the MCU heads into Phase Five, meaning fewer Marvel TV shows all around.

Many fans expected the news, considering that by the end of the first quarter of 2023, What If…? Season 2 — a show that was once tapped for an “Early 2023” release — had not even been teased by the superhero studio. Then came the news that Agatha: Coven of Chaos had been pushed to 2025, and other shows like Echo and Ironheart had also been pushed into next year.

Alaqua Cox as Echo
Credit: Marvel Studios

The former is said to act as both a sequel to 2021’s Hawkeye and a prequel for the highly-anticipated 18-episode Daredevil reboot, Daredevil: Born Again starring Charlie Cox (Matt Murdock/Daredevil), which is seemingly airing in early 2024. As for the latter, Dominique Thorne made her MCU debut as Riri Williams, AKA Ironheart, in last year’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022), and Ironheart looks set to cement her profile as a key player in the MCU moving forward.

So that leaves Loki Season 2 and Secret Invasion. The sophomore season of the record-breaking Loki is still tagged with “Coming Soon” on the official Disney+ website, leaving its former “Summer 2023” release all but a question mark — although star Owen Wilson (Night at the Museum), who plays Time Variance Authority investigator Mobius M. Mobius in the show, teased an early September release. Secret Invasion, starring Samuel L. Jackson (Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace) and Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Nick Fury and Talos, begins airing on June 21, 2023.

What do you think of Marvel reportedly casting a non-Jewish actor in a Jewish role? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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