I would like nearly every woman in the Marvel Universe to be eliminated. For feminism.
The trend of grrl power in today’s Marvel superhero movies is a patronizing concoction of poor representation, sexist tropes of womanhood and straight lazy writing. I would rather see a superhero sausage-fest than have these women dangled in front of my face like a feminist dog bone.
The men of Marvel, meanwhile, engage in witty banter and undergo (somewhat) complex character arcs. I resent that I am more entertained by them than their female counterparts, but I am. Their boring female sidekicks (who aren’t even supposed to be sidekicks but are de facto relegated to the position), mostly written by men, reinforce what misogynists already believe: that women aren’t interesting or worthy of lead roles.
Take Black Widow. She’s a boring woman warrior who hasn’t gotten her own movie because she has absolutely zero personality. Sure, you could argue it’s also because the comic movie industry is sexist and doesn’t believe a female superhero can make bank (think of how long it took to make a Wonder Woman movie, despite her significance in the DC cannon) and while that’s a factor, it’s also because she’s not interesting. Black Widow wasn’t written as an intriguing character on screen because she fulfills the requirements for a female action star: reserved, hot, tough and inevitably a love interest to at least one fellow male hero.
The resident cool girl of Guardians of the Galaxy is Gamora. Her purpose to be good at fighting and be a tool for the emotional development of the good and bad guys of the story. See the “Women in Refrigerators” trope, first noted by comic book writer Gail Simone in 1999. That is, when a female character is used, tortured and killed for the sole purpose of motivating the male hero. It’s present with several female characters in Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and was pointed out in criticism of Deadpool 2.
In the final battle of Avengers: Infinity War, the Scarlet Witch does a useful thing and the female general from Black Panther, Okoye, asks why she hadn’t been on the frontline of battle the whole time. Because she had been upstairs with her man, a character with his own significant story arc outside his romance. The general’s throwaway line about girl power is cheap bait from male writers to pacify bitches like me.
Speaking of Black Panther, the women in this Marvel movie are the exception. The women of Wakanda are closer to actual complex humans than any other woman in the Marvel Universe, because the movie itself was already making a political statement. The creators of the first black superhero movie were hyper-aware of representation and of producing entertainment that is both enjoyable and politically relevant.
Of course, when thrown into Avengers: Infinity War, even the Wakandan women are shunted in the women’s sports league. As is common in action flicks, the women all end up in the same skirmish at the end, a separate and slightly less significant battle than the main one being waged by the film’s main heros, the men.
My biggest beef is with Deadpool. The first film got so much attention and praise for being the first R-rated superhero movie. The heroine is a sex worker and much ado is made over her seemingly egalitarian, sex positive relationship with Deadpool. Heck, she pegs him for International Women’s Day. Of course, once she settles into a committed relationship with the deformed hero, it’s unclear if she continues doing sex work — now that she’s wife material and all. Her wardrobe tones down drastically and we learn nothing else about her except she really likes Deadpool. And of course, she inevitably ends up locked in some capsule crying for Deadpool to come save her.
The second film has faced similar criticism and while I won’t spoil anything, let’s just say that the movie’s “women in refrigerators” problem gets even worse.
Nevertheless, I get nerd bros genuinely baffled when I tell them I don’t like Deadpool or his love interest. “But you write about sex! And feminism!” Yeah, and the writers of Deadpool do both very poorly and I can’t respect that.