With no news of a Black Widow stand-alone film and through pushing back the slate of the Captain Marvel film another year, there has been a circulating debate on the Internet about the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s lack of prominent feminine characters. The MCU has given an image of sidelining the important female representation to make room for even more male characters, which is overtly seen in The Avengers and Age of Ultron with the lack of a Black Widow movie even though she seems like she is a loved character.
However, while there may be a lack of leading ladies on the screen, there seems to be many on the side to compliment the male superhero. The rush of potential love interest female characters in the films; from super-intelligent Jane Foster in Thor to the trust-worthy Pepper Potts in Ironman sees this. While these characters aren’t they typical ‘damsel in distress’ theme to them, they are incredibly sidelined by the males in the films.
The only females who are seen as ‘superhero’ type character are in groups and usually outweighed by the male characters. This is seen through Black Widow in The Avengers and Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy, as the daughter of Thanos. This really is only a small percentage of the heroes that are seen on screen and has caused many problems with many movie-goers and has sparked many rants by people online.
This lack of strong female characters and centrality in these films can sometimes detach the female audience from relating to characters in the film and getting emotionally connected to what they are witnessing on screen.
It doesn’t help that most of these female characters are placed in the film as romantic interests for the males, leading to the old fashioned submissive image of women, which no longer fits in today’s society anymore. Characters who have some interest to the plot, but are relatively there for the male hero to fall in love with them have become a major plot device in the MCU. This is heavily seen through Pepper Potts, Jane Foster and to some extent Peggy Carter.
Is this a problem within the Marvel Cinematic Universe though?
Some people would argue, yes.
Marvel Comics has set the ground rules of setting up many important and powerful female characters that could easily fit in their coherent cinematic universe, such as Captain Marvel, Scarlett Witch, Maria Hill and many of the X-Men. While some of these may be difficult to show on screen through their lack of development thus far in the MCU and the lack of film rights, with some tweaking to these women, there is an obvious question of why Marvel Studios hasn’t adapted a female stand-alone film thus far.
This discussion would be easily resolved if the MCU focused on making more prominent female characters who are as strong as they are developed. If these characters had as much screen time as their male comrades and as expanded as they are, the film universe would be considerably more flawless then it already is and would break the barrier of adding something people have wanted for years.
However, the biggest problem with this matter is the lack of female stand-alone films. This is actually where the DC cinematic universe has the upper hand, with their much-anticipated Wonder Woman stand-alone film being released in 2017, in the earlier phases of their cinematic universe. This is a year before the release of Marvel’s first female stand-alone Captain Marvel, which was controversially set back a year to fit in another white male superhero, Spiderman. This is actually ten years after the initial beginning of the MCU with Ironman being released in 2008. With 8 stand-alone films created and 8 more on the way, only one will be a female character and only one character, Black Panther, will be the only non Caucasian.
This lack of diversity has been the cause of much internet drama in recent months, with moviegoers and marvel fans severely disappointed with the lack on feminine strength and characterisation on their screens. This is seen especially with women, who are finding it hard to find a character they somewhat to relate to. The men in marvel had non-superhero aspects and obstacles they had overcome throughout the films, however this cannot be really said for the female characters and audiences.
This male dominance has an old-fashioned tone to it and seems like it doesn’t fit with everything else surrounding our society. With the many franchise, all-female starring reboots, it is actually quite a surprise that Marvel is still lacking with the prominence of a strong female lead.
It seems like, at this point, Marvel TV has done this better, with Agent Carter, a spin off of Penny Carter in Captain America resounded quite well with audiences and many female MCU fans. If Marvel studios could use this as a guide to lead a prominent female character into the universe, the universe would be as coherent as the team has been aiming for since their first film in 2008.
With all this debate and speculation circulating the internet, hopefully in the future the films that Marvel produces is able to create these characters that have previously been lacking and is able to not exclude parts of the audience from their films. Marvel have created some of the best blockbuster films over the past few years and it would be able to go a step further if they were able to introduce strong female protagonists, in order to create a fully-fleshed out universe.
Article by Emilia Aslan