Patience: Marvel Should Up Its Feminist Game, D.C. Isn’t Totally Innocent

3
422

“Thor: Ragnorak” is coming to theaters this November, and this movie contains Marvel’s first major female villain. It’s about time, as Suicide Squad had two main female villains last year, in addition to several other DC examples of female lead characters. This isn’t entirely surprising as Marvel has never been good at highlighting their (very few)  female characters, but at the end of the day, both corporations need to consider toning down overtly sexual portrayals of women when they do appear.

Marvel had a very short television show about Agent Peggy Carter, but when she died, Steve Rogers immediately hit on her niece. Even when Natasha Romanov (Black Widow) attended the funeral, it was to make sure Steve wasn’t alone, not to honor the great woman who founded S.H.I.E.L.D.

Also, Black Widow has been in the Avengers since “Captain America: Winter Soldier” and still hasn’t had a stand alone movie. Meanwhile, Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor have all had three. In “Age of Ultron” Black Widow compares herself to Hulk because she can’t have children. She was sterilized in order to stay a Russian spy, as if women with children can’t be equally dangerous. However, she is rumored to have a debut movie in 2018.

Furthermore, Wanda Maximoff (Scarlett Witch) is easily the most powerful member of the Avengers. They don’t need her to have a romantic relationship with Vision, a literal robot. Of all the pairings Marvel could have made, this one is the worst. But, of course, what’s the point of having a female character if she’s not in a romantic or sexual relationship with a man, right?

This is why I prefer to support DC. They’ve always been much better at, well, having female characters. But they’ve also been better at highlighting these female characters as powerful and independent. I’ve always known who Wonder Woman and Super Girl are, just as I’ve always known who Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man are. Wonder Woman had many television shows, and now she finally has a movie that was instantly a hit. “Wonder Woman” was the most empowering and diverse DC movie produced thus far, and it made me excited to see the upcoming “Justice League.” In the Batman and Justice League television shows, Wonder Woman is shown to have as much authority as her male counterparts, if not more, as she often goes against Superman’s word.

DC also featured a main female villain in a Batman movie long before Harley Quinn’s appearance in 2016’s Suicide Squad. Poison Ivy was the main villain in the 1997 “Batman and Robin.” Not to mention the many different “Cat Woman” portrayals, including the “Cat Woman” stand alone movie with Halle Berry. And “Batman: the Animated Series” has often put Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Batwoman in the spotlight.

The very fact that DC has more female characters and gives them more media attention makes DC more feminist than Marvel at this point. But, of course, all of these comics and comic-based movies have a lot of work to do as far as portraying their female characters as non-sexualized, independent heroes. Harley Quinn and the Enchantress in “Suicide Squad” seemed to provide mainly sex appeal.

As we can see with Marvel, steps are being taken, and that’s what’s important. As long as younger girls are growing up seeing powerful, non-sexualized women on screen, Marvel and DC are doing their jobs to provide the American population with the idea that anyone can have the power to change the world.

letters@dailyutahchronicle.com

3 COMMENTS

  1. Good article overall. First of all, I’m all for the idea that both Marvel and DC need to step up their feminism. The fact that we’ve only seen one movie between the two studios with a female superhero lead is really too bad. And the fact that DC is responsible for that film, as well as having a female villain like Harley Quinn, gives them the edge on the film side. Interestingly, the main villain in Iron Man 3 was supposed to be female, but the now (thankfully) defunct Creative Committee at Marvel Studios forbade the director to go through with that plan. I’m hopeful that Captain Marvel will be a grand slam for Marvel, and for better representation of women in superhero films.

    However, I really do think that Marvel’s done a better job than DC on the television side. I think Supergirl is a great show that highlights a lot of different elements of feminism, but Marvel doesn’t just have Agent Carter. Agents of SHIELD is, in my opinion, an excellent show with a lot of cast diversity, including several female characters who are badasses in their own right, and while they do explore romantic interests, for most of them it’s not the focal point of their character arcs. And let’s not forget the Marvel Netflix show Jessica Jones. That show had a great female lead, and tackled some really important issues in feminism and gender equality. Season two of that show is filming now. Runaways is coming out on Hulu in less than a month, and that’s another Marvel property that looks like it has potential to up Marvel TV’s ante on feminist representation.

    The last thing I’ll say is a nitpick — Steve Rodgers didn’t “immediately start hitting on” Agent Carter’s niece. That relationship developed over time and, most importantly, he wasn’t even aware of the fact that the two were related until Sharon spoke at Peggy’s funeral.

  2. Alisa, when will you care about EVERYONE’S rights? I’m so sick of this gender binary focus in pop-culture.
    What about a transgender superhero, or a pansexual superhero, or just something different than the straight white males and females you blather on about? And what about race? The closest thing to a non-white superhero you mentioned in all of this article was the Hulk. When will feminists get off their high horse and start caring about the LGBTQ+ humans all around them, not to mention black lives? Being inclusive doesn’t just mean including women, it means EVERYONE. As a Black/Native-American genderfluid in transition, I can assure you, it takes far more patience for me to read this article than it takes you to watch your white-washed gender-binary superhero movies produced by privileged Hollywood.

    • Thank you. I wanted to see wonder woman for two reasons. 1. Shes my favorite fighter in comics hands down and her moveset is epic in the injustice series. 2. Even Patty jenkins said shes tired of all that stupid focus on gender and other crap that people somehow think has to do with talent, i especially love her quote “i dont see myself as a female director, just a director the same way i wasnt directing a female hero, just a hero”.

LEAVE A REPLY!

Please enter your comment!
Reader comments on dailyutahchronicle.com are the opinions of the writer, not the Daily Utah Chronicle or University of Utah Student Media. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned.

Please enter your name here