The only good thing about the lack of female leads in superhero movies is that I get one no-brainer entry in every list-based article I write about superhero movies. It is absolutely absurd that we haven't gotten this yet, guys. Even in a movie as weird as Guardians of the Galaxy, we need a white dude with guns to guide us through. The only women or non-evil minorities who show up are buried under make-up or CGI. What the hell? Between this and Avatar, Zoe Saldana is turning into a less pretentious Andy Serkis.
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Holy shit, Zoe Saldana's black?
This isn't even about being "fair" or "progressive" (even though those seem like nice things to be). This is about maintaining the diversity we need to keep interest in this shit. Stories are made interesting by how the characters interact with their surroundings, so having more diverse protagonists means more diverse, interesting stories. And we fucking need that. Otherwise we're not going to get to see these movies anymore, and that'd seriously break my heart.
The most frustrating part is that Kevin Feige, who's in charge of all of Marvel's strategy, doesn't even have a reason he's not doing this. He basically says he wants to but isn't going to, because reasons. Actually, scratch that: He doesn't even get to the "because reasons" point. He just says it'd be great and kinda shrugs. Metaphorically, with his words.
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Holy shit, Kevin Feige is really dorky looking?
I honestly can't conceive of why this is happening. Black Widow is proven to be a popular character, and for Christ's sake she's at least as interesting as Thor, right? Right now, the only company planning a superhero movie with a lead female character is Sony, which despite owning the rights to the best superhero character ever (seriously, Spider-Man's origin is perfect) hasn't been able to make a watchable superhero movie happen in 10 years. Their attitude is basically, "Well, literally nothing else is working, so we may as well give this a shot."
There's no reason Marvel can't beat them to the punch. They could get a Black Widow movie out well before 2017, and not only would we all go see it, it'd keep Scarlett Johansson from making movies like Lucy. They can probably get a tax break for that kind of disaster prevention work, right?
Or somebody. I guess this is a more controversial opinion, and even I'm not totally sure it would work, but I think for the universe to keep going they need to keep things fresh, and recasting actors like they do with James Bond isn't the way to do it. The biggest weakness comic books have is narrative overload. It's nigh impossible to just jump right in -- you can't see The Avengers and walk into a comic book store asking for Black Widow #1, because even if the comic book store people are nice (I hear that's happened) you're still stuck trying to navigate a mythology that has been rebooted, retconned, and re[other word] into a totally nonsensical mishmash of narrative casserole.
It tastes way better if you read the lore.
But we can avoid that here. If we do the story bit where Steve Rogers dies, let's leave him dead. Let Falcon take up the Captain America mantle, like in the comics. Or, better yet, give us something new to replace him. You've already proven this possible: No one gave a shit about Guardians of the Galaxy a year ago, and yet it's making the box office toss its salad, with the best opening of the year for an "original property." Because this is what an "original property" is, now: a movie based on a book that takes place in the same universe as a bunch of other successful movies. That's the trick, Marvel: You can tell original stories with all the box-office safety of making a sequel. Please do that more.
Basically, Marvel, keep being smarter than us, and we promise that we'll keep puking money at you. Or you can repulsor-blast my heart apart, rendering me to a sobbing shell of a human being, just as broken and shamed as Natalie Imbruglia. Your call.