“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.