Uthaclena poses a question for Ask Roger Anything.
Should icons, legends, and myths be retconned to advance diversity and inclusiveness? Is creating new stories and characters stifled or advanced by doing so?
Maybe. And maybe. A post by Mark Evanier this year addresses this.
“Among the pro-social requirements at that moment was that every [cartoon] show that particular year  had to have minority representation. Someone in it had to not be a white guy.
“As it was explained to me, Standards and Practices at ABC had made up a list of racial and ethnic minorities, and it was kind of like ‘Pick one.’ Joe Ruby, one of the producers of the show, looked it over and picked ‘Hawaiian.’ He and Norman had previously invented a sidekick for Plas, who had perpetual bad luck and whose voice would be based somewhat on Lou Costello’s.”
So I asked him, “I was wondering if you thought that was a good thing, a bad thing?” He replied, “In this world — or in my world, at least — one often finds situations that fall under the category of ‘Doing the right thing for the wrong reason’ or maybe ‘Achieving the proper goal in an improper way.'”
I agree with him that ABC was hamfisted about this. Thus, the inclusiveness checkmark was achieved but at a creative cost.
A better solution would be to create situations that reflect the characters portrayed. To achieve that, one needs to have more writers who are black, Hispanic, gay, women, fat et al. You know, people who have some experience with being what the stories are trying to portray rather than having a white character in blackface.
To the specifics of the question, when I was growing up reading comics, DC came up with different “earths” to explain the difference between the Golden Age and Silver Age heroes.
Someone recently wrote that there were too many characters named Superman. I can’t speak to this because I’m not following the comic books. The marketplace, I reckon, will decide.
I’ll point to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As you know, Sgt. Fury, fighting in WWII, was a white guy in the comics. But movie fans now can’t think of anyone but Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.
Here’s the problem with comic books that are more than a quarter-century old. You always have to retcon the storyline, or it doesn’t make any sense. The Lee/Ditko Spider-Man is in his 70s. Reed Richards and Ben Grimm of the Fantastic Four fought in World War II, so the Lee/Kirby characters are centenarians.
I’m cool with the changes because we’re dealing with the multiverse, which was used to tremendous effect in SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME and especially Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Heck, anyone who has ever watched soap operas for any length of time knows that babies suddenly age for storyline reasons.
If you’re going to alter something, having media that reflects our evolving understanding of the world makes sense to me.
And if someone is pearl-clutching over people of color in the Tolkien universe, for instance, they can write off the finished projects as bad fan fiction.