My research project revolves around social influence within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). My main question is if there is an established presence of women and minorities across the MCU. Some minorities include African-American, Hispanic, and Asian race/ethnicities. The main characters within this study will be analyzed together as a sociocentric network. To create this network, data was obtained from a Wikipedia list of a main character appearances in the MCU. An article by Acton highlight the simplicity behind non-directional web-based data collection and the online collaborative that is Wikipedia (2010). Since my data collection was based on pre-existing tabular data, it was quicker to obtain the data. However, there is the chance of web-based data not having all of the information the researcher needs, which was true for my case. I had to take extra steps to assess each character’s alignment, sex and a systematic approach to determine their race. This was proven very difficult when I knew an actor’s race, but they play an alien. One example is actress Zoe Saldana’s Gamora, who is pictured below.
To my surprise, there was another social network analysis was done on the MCU by Everington (2016). Her research was meant to show directors the loosely connected characters in order to strengthen their success and provide actors the recommendations for being casted as a hero or a villain. She collected her data by going through the IMDB to tie actors (nodes) and their respective movies (edges). The figure below is a network analysis of actors in the MCU with colors based on centrality and size based on n-degree. The clustered yellow nodes represent actors who were only in one move and do not have any ties to other films.
To build on Everington’s research, I am using main characters as nodes instead of her chosen actors. Her study is also limited to movies in Marvel movies from Phases 1 and 2. My research now includes those in Phase 3 films and features the that and the Production Studio as an additional edge attribute. To go along with my research question, I can assess if there was a clear difference in the demographics of interest between the MCU Phases and the Production Studios. Overall, my research will better understand what the presence of these demographics means for our social capital consumption.
Acton, R. M. (2010). Principled research on social behavior in online contexts: Methods and applications for sociologists (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database.
Everington, C. (2016). Marvel Cinema Universe Network Analysis. Retrieved from https://datacolumn.wordpress.ncsu.edu/blog/2016/03/27/marvel-cinema-universe-network-analysis/