Or Why Your Typical Hollywood Sexism Keeps Me from Giving You Money.
I was never a big DC fan, but I do follow up rather closely when it comes to some of the Marvel catalog. While I do not posses the knowledge to fully support my statement, I do understand one thing: both DC and Marvel have a habit to underplay their potential powerful female leads.
I’ll start with one of my favorite things ever: X-Men. You’ll say: „wait, but there are lots of girls and women in that universe!„. I have to agree with you, but only on a superficial level. There are almost three female characters that can be considered developed in X-Men. I’m talking about Mystique, of course, Jean Grey and Storm.
Each of these ladies grows and moves around the ethic scale with unease and each of these passages seems almost natural and real, if they weren’t so cringe worthy most of the times. However, none of them is allowed to step into the limelight and steal the show. We always have Professor X and Magneto, Wolverine and Cyclops, Deadpool and Nightcrawler, and a lot of middle school brawls of pimply boys.
To be fair, their origin was appointed to a time and place when women were relegated to secondary places, such as love interest and sidekick statuses, so it’s understandable…
However, the new Mystique, portrayed by the awesome chameleon that is Jennifer Lawrence is not allowed to be the star of her own movie, even though with this it can truly transpire that her character is one cursed with issues and is the one that needs some focus, developmentally wise.
Fine, let’s admit that maybe a franchise focusing on tons of mutants, both male and female, is not quite what the boys paying the tickets want to transform into girls’ playground.
But there’s Batgirl, and Supergirl, and Wonder Woman! Even villainesses, such as Catwoman! They deserve some love, and at some point, someone was willing to give it to them. And it failed miserably, partly because the paying boys weren’t ready for this, but mostly because the men behind the cameras weren’t ready to WRITE proper female leads. What am I saying?! Characters, let’s do that before making them leads!
I have never seen such a beautifully crafted woman as was Buffy. Joss Whedon, ahead of his time, as usual, mastered the art of embroidering her with faults, including some regarding the scholar abilities of his lead, and managed to made her fierce, vulnerable, and awesome, while letting her enough time to explore herself, her friends, to experiment pain and loss and grief and despair, and allowed Buffy to grow into an awkward woman that has suffered along the way, made bad choices and stuck to her guns each and every time. Except for when she didn’t. Isn’t she beautiful like this? All human and REAL?!
Whedon also managed to create for his heroine a universe filled with powerful women, all given supernatural abilities, all given the responsibility of having to take care and help her grow, while growing up on their own. Don’t worry, boys, there are also men, equally beautifully crafted.
Buffy paved the way for the true heroine, now readily available and a sweet commodity, especially in the TV series. Lots of comediennes or, rather antithetic, drama queens, are piling up and taking over the cable. Some of these women, such as Tatiana Maslany‘s flock of clones, or Anna Silk‘s Lost Girl, or even Julie Benz‘s Amanda Rosewater or Gina Torres‘ Jessica Pearson (coincidentally, both actresses are Whedon alumni), prove there’s room and public willing to watch powerful women taking a stand.
People were ready for a woman fronted movie for years, and even applauded stuff like Erin Brokovich because it proved a point.
However, when it comes to the boys playground – the superhero comic book stand, a strong female centered movie is just not happening. No matter how special her abilities are, moviegoers just won’t see a Black Widow film anytime soon.
Because the big shots don’t think it’s the best thing ever… For their pockets.
Even though the TV managed to squeeze some female characters with both brains and beauty, as well as weapon savvy and tech know-it-alls, series like Mad Men continue to rule the world from the shadows. Even though we have Agent Carter, and Tina Fey, and Fat Amy, the sidekick curse is still in bloom, and until someone decides to take a stand and make a movie (NOT A TV SHOW!) with a capable woman with both strengths and weaknesses, I decided to boycott whatever super-hero movie available.
I’m sick of the damsel in distress bit, a concept so old and overused that it’s beyond annoying to keep getting annoyed by it, so I figured it’s best I avoid any meeting that has Norse gods, men who can’t seem to manage their anger, bureaucrats way too cocky for their own good or sidekicks relegated to long-distance weaponry status. Even though this hot mess bears the name of my Lord and Savior, Mr. Whedon.
At this point, we can only hope that DC steps up and hands us what we want. At least, maybe this way, Marvel will start creating a supply for great female characters, and not let the demand waste itself away.