Comic book action movies have had women problems since what seems like the dawn of time. Over the past decade or so, Marvel has somehow continued to exacerbate the issue further in almost every release it’s put out, and the issues haven’t been resolved since Disney bought the franchise in 2009.

Marvel’s latest release, Avengers: Age of Ultron, is an unfortunate continuation of Marvel’s historic “lady problem,” and numerous outlets have criticized the way that female characters were represented on and off-screen, namely Black Widow. Journalists have been rightly critical of her non-canonical, distracting romantic subplots, the merchandising choices after the film’s release, and the fact that despite her extensive fanbase across the gender spectrum, the franchise has no plan to give her a leading role in a film.

Black Widow

This news is hardly surprising anymore, though it is indeed frustrating. Audiences FULL of women and people of color have had to put up with Marvel’s unbalanced casts since God knows when. I mean, we’ve had what, 11 Marvel films so far, 8 of which have been standalone films, and none that feature women in any leading capacity. So it’s in cases like this where women turn to the ensemble films for our piece of the pie. So far, I’ve come away disappointed every time. Black Widow, Gomorrah, and Scarlet Witch were hardly characters to write home about, and it had little to nothing to do with the actresses portraying these characters. AHEM, Joss Whedon, where are these strong female leads you pride yourself on writing?

Where my bad bitches, huh?

MarvelWomen

Writing and a disappointing moviegoing experience aside, the press surrounding the film was just as nauseating, starting with our favorite fratboy brovengers entirely inappropriate comments about the character Natasha Romanoff. Both are quoted using a few choice words, saying

“[Black Widow is] a slut,” Renner replied, completely deadpan.
Evans burst out laughing, adding, “I was gonna say something along that line … she’s a complete whore.”

This, of course, was followed by a piss poor apology, only to be followed by another slew of misogynistic nonsense a week later by Renner.

“I was asked the question like, so Black Widow’s been linked to Hawkeye, Iron Man, Bruce Banner, and Captain America, so what do you think about that. Well, I said, ‘It sounds like she’s a s***.’ Now, mind you, I was talking about a fictional character and fictional behavior, but Conan, if you slept with four of the six Avengers–no matter how much fun you had–you’d be a slut. Just saying. I’d be a slut.”

Wow, Jeremy Renner, I can really tell that you put your best foot forward after your slew of unnecessary derogatory comments. I can tell that you thought through the consequences of your actions and are now a reformed man. Here’s a gold star for your efforts.

Both Renner and Evans cited their shameful comments “slipped out” due to exhausting press release tour. Which is totally understandable, right? I mean, sometimes when you haven’t had your morning cup of joe, it’s completely reasonable to revert to archaic, sexist drivel about one the only female heroines in a franchise that is frequently questioned for being sexist. Nevermind that Natasha Romanoff hasn’t slept with any of the Avengers (not that it would matter) and that no such derogatory comments were made towards Tony Stark, who literally self-identifies as a playboy in the first Avengers movie.

genius-billionaire-playboy-philanthropist

Even more disturbing is the idea that this misogynistic bullshit beliefs of the higher ups in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well. The CEO of Marvel himself seems to believe that female led superhero movies can’t be successful, citing that Electra, Catwoman, and Supergirl were bad movies–which to be fair, they totally are. But where is the criticism of male led superhero movies that have flopped? Daredevil? The Green Lantern? All 400 of the damn Spiderman movies (sorry, I am not well equipped enough to handle any more skinny white boy superhero stories)?

Can’t we just chalk these failures up to the fact that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are a lovely couple, but make terrible superheroes and leave it at that? Did Electra really leave a sour enough taste in your mouth to exclude an entire gender from having a lead role for more than ten years? Really?

ReallySNLImage

Two years ago, I stumbled upon an article on NPR that stated,

“I want to stress this again: In many, many parts of the country right now, if you want to go to see a movie in the theater and see a current movie about a woman–any story about any woman that isn’t a documentary or a cartoon–you can’t. You cannot. There are not any. You cannot take yourself to one, take your friend to one, take your daughter to one.

There are not any.

That kind of information sticks with a person, and makes Marvel’s issues with representation an even more hard to swallow. As a woman, it is disappointing to be invested in a franchise that will not appreciate or echo your dedication by telling your stories as well. While I am thrilled to finally  have a woman cast in a leading role in the Marvel franchise, one extraordinary woman is not enough. The other 50% of us need to see powerful people that look like us.

After all, you can’t be what you can’t see.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.