When asked if I have seen Joss Whedon’s The Avengers movie, many people have expressions of disbelief and shock when they find out I haven’t seen it. There are a few big reasons why I do not feel compelled to see the 1.43 billion dollar box office blockbuster, even though I really liked Iron Man.
Lack of Solid Female Characters
I have loved Black Widow since I picked up a copy of Greg Rucka and Igor Kordey’s “Pale Little Spider.” Since then she has been one of my favorite characters. That being said, I can’t get past the total lack of back story and Russian accent in both Iron Man 2 and Avengers. I’m fully aware that she has evolved to become more American than Russian, but I love Black Widow’s back story and it’s what made me fall in love with the Russian orphan turned spy femme fatale.
To date, there are 5 current female characters to 15 males in Marvel’s The Avengers (all comic book series). In the past there have been roughly 50 Avengers: 39 men to 11 women. There is no reason why they couldn’t include more than 1 female character in the feature film, though all the previous Marvel franchises tied to the Avengers were about male superheroes. Who doesn’t want to see Scarlet Witch on the big screen kicking ass and taking names?
A lot of people would argue that superhero films are directed toward a male audience. According to the MPAA, in this century, more women go see films than men. From WomenandHollywood.com :
Here’s the money quote from the MPAA:
“A higher percentage of women than men are moviegoers in all categories of frequency.” In. All. Categories. of. Frequency.
Women make up 9 million more filmgoers than men. Bottom line: The future is female. The upside is great. The market is there ready to be tapped. The only issue is who will take advantage of it.
Why do people go to the movies? To escape. To live vicariously through the characters on screen. I want to see characters that I can believe in and relate to. What has changed since I first started attending comic cons in 2004, is more female attendees. Our numbers have gone up. And while I used to find it exciting to catch the latest superhero flick from DC and Marvel respectively, I am quickly growing tired of rooting for people that aren’t entirely relatable. I have little to no desire to see my gender constantly being portrayed in a damsel in distress, less strong or intelligent than her male counterparts, or simply using her sexuality to get her way. I will add: There is nothing wrong with characters of this nature, but when there are no other female characters to counteract this gender-typing, I am dismayed and ultimately turned off.
With sci-fi and action films like Prometheus, Hunger Games, Snow White and the Huntsmen, and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo cleaning up at the box office, it is time for a paradigm shift in comics to focus on the female superhero.
Nothing is more inspiring to me than the Olympics. When I see these women at the peak their physical excellence, I am compelled to be the best I can be. In some aspects, isn’t that what being a superhero is all about? NOW is a time of gender-equality. Art has a big responsibility to reflect modern times as truthfully as possible while existing in a fictional universe. When I intake media, I want to see the best of my people reflected in a positive and accurate light. Today especially, women are strong (often stronger then men). We are intelligent, provocative, bold, and fearless. Show me a superhero that reflects this today and I will buy that movie ticket. (ahem, Wonder Woman anyone? And this time please do the costume justice! We need her now more than EVER).
Not Enough Solid Characters of Color/Diverse Backgrounds
I’m not even going to get into the fact that other than Blade and a few X-Men, every superhero film Marvel has put out since it’s incarnation in the film industry has be Caucasian. I challenge DC and Marvel to step it up a notch and cast/write for an even larger audience by incorporating more characters of different genetic backgrounds. While both Marvel and DC have had a few gay characters and more recently for Marvel, gay weddings, I say don’t stop there. Let’s keep the ball rolling on diversity in comics, and maybe this can help affect film, television, and commercials as well.
Some might say that they are tired of hearing people complain that casts in film and TV aren’t diverse enough. I’m tired of hearing it too- because I wish it wasn’t a problem. Many things can be blamed for this including writers, producers, casting directors, directors, and old stereotypes. Until Hollywood and other entertainment mediums accurately reflect the population we live in, I will continue voicing this debate. In the meantime, I’m really looking forward to the next generation of female action heroes (I can honestly say that I am striving to be one of them). See you on the big screen, ladies!