5 Ways Marvel Movies Keep Screwing Up Female Superheroes

Marvel Studios just successfully released their new movie, Ant-Man, thereby cementing that they can do whatever the fuck they want. If they can make a $130 million film about Paul Rudd turning tiny and commanding an insect army without going bankrupt, they can probably make one about any Marvel character ever ... uh, as long as it's a dude. Obviously. Because clearly, the most impressive superpower in the universe isn't strength or invulnerability; it's having a dong.

Now, there are a number of obvious reasons that Marvel would shy away from releasing movies with female protagonists (there's one coming in 2018, after 19 films starring men), but here's the thing: All those reasons are bullshit. Here's why:

#5. They Ignore The Huge Number Of Women Who Like Comics

Marvel Comics

Anyone who thinks women don't like comics must be living in the '40s -- the 1840s, that is, because even way back in 1944, 81-91 percent of girls read comic books. According to one study, 46.67 percent of self-described comic book fans today are female. If you don't believe me, you can take the word of Marvel's editor-in-chief, who said, "If you go to conventions and comic book stores, more and more female readers are emerging." So please, let's put behind the sexist notion that only men can get sweaty as they stand in lines and gawk at cosplayers.

But despite that, and despite the fact that most filmgoers in general are women, Marvel's movies have never been big hits with the ladies. So far, the ones that have managed to attract the largest female audiences are Guardians Of The Galaxy and The Avengers -- that is, two movies that had superheroines in them.

Marvel Studios
Reminder that ScarJo's (non-Marvel) action movie destroyed the freaking Rock's last year.

Hmmm. It's almost as if people like seeing themselves represented on screen. On a completely unrelated note, did you know that 75 percent of the audience for the multiracial hit Furious 7 was nonwhite? And did you know that there's an increasing slew of Marvel comic books with female protagonists?

Marvel Comics
So weird.

Yup, there's no shortage of powerful women that could be put in front of the screen. Of all the Marvel Comics coming out this month, I count 18 with female protagonists. At Marvel Studios' current rate of one lead woman every ten years, they'll be catching up until next century.

#4. They Blame The Lack Of Women Superheroes On ... Women Superheroes

20th Century Fox

According to Marvel, it's not like they don't want to make films starring women. They simply can't. Everything has come together in such a way as to make it literally impossible for one of the most successful studios in Hollywood to work on any female-oriented movies.

The president of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, said in an interview how he "hopes" they will be able to make more female-led films "sooner rather than later." We can picture him sitting in his giant office every day, hoping away that someone will let him do it. Unfortunately, his company is "managing more franchises than most people have," so he doesn't have time. The schedule of movies up and appeared in front of him one day, and obviously, no one wanted all those movies to star men, but they do, and now there isn't any time. Darn it!

Marvel Studios
These guys happened to stop by that day.

Feige also made it very clear that the lack of female protagonists had nothing to do with other comic book movies starring women not doing well in the past, since that would be a rather dumb argument. Unfortunately, this wasn't so clear to the CEO of Marvel, Ike Perlmutter, who listed off three female-oriented movies that bombed in a leaked email to the CEO of Sony, presumably to prove that they shouldn't move forward on any films that have leads with ovaries. His examples were the 2005 Elektra (whose title he spelled wrong), the 2004 Catwoman (with its scintillating basketball scenes), and the freaking 1984 Supergirl. You know who was popular in 1984? O.J. Simpson. Maybe we shouldn't concern ourselves with what those people thought.

Warner Bros. Television
Meanwhile, guess who DC is giving a show to this fall, before Black Widow even has a script. Go on, guess.

On the other hand, we can see Perlmutter's logic. After all, everyone knows that Hollywood never did any more superhero movies starring men after The Green Hornet, The Spirit, and Shaq's Steel all bombed.

#3. They Go Out Of Their Way To Exclude Black Widow In All Merchandising


Like I said, The Avengers and Guardians Of The Galaxy are Marvel's biggest hits with women because they have ensemble casts that include female superheroes in central roles -- something the ladies in the audience value even more than Thor's abs, apparently. There are probably countless young girls who left those movies wanting to be Black Widow or Gamora. Unfortunately, as far as Marvel is concerned, those girls should stick to Barbies and ponies.

As Cracked told you recently, Black Widow is like the redheaded stepchild of the Avengers when it comes to stuff you can actually buy. She gets lots of screen time in the movies, which is good, but any kid who wants a toy of her is better off making one out of Play-Doh. It's so bad that even Mark "chillest guy to ever play the Hulk" Ruffalo called Marvel out:

He was promptly replaced with Edward Norton Eric Bana SMART LOOKING ACTOR for his insolence.

There's an entire blog that does nothing but point out how Black Widow is nowhere to be found on Avenger's merchandise. We could see some executive getting away with saying that boys wouldn't play with a girl action figure, even though that is obviously bullshit (and what about the girls who want those action figures?), but here are some other things that Black Widow's presence would apparently ruin:

Christmas ...

School ...

Your body's ability to heal itself.

And the exact same thing is happening with Guardians Of The Galaxy's resident lady ass-kicker -- you can buy a toy of a Nova Corps officer, but anything related to Gamora is considerably more difficult to find. Yes, Marvel appears to be under the impression that kids would rather play with a John C. Reilly action figure than with a female superhero.

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Kathy Benjamin

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