Sunday, May 13, 2012

we need better chicks in superhero flicks

I was peer pressured into seeing The Avengers last night. I’m not one for superhero movies. Something about catchphrases, one-liners, and women with ginormous boobs and pinky-fingers for wastes that just doesn’t get me very excited.

Many people in my group of friends had already seen it though, and ‘because it was so good’ were out the door to their second viewing, and I decided to go with them.

compare The Avengers plotting-villain scene to this. 
The film re-established my beliefs about the Super Hero Genre, and I cannot say that I was not disappointed with my choice. The one-liners gagged me and the villain’s out-of-this-world scheming scene wouldn’t stop reminding me of the 1995 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, but my biggest critique was the role of women in the film. 

I sat next to my good writer-friend Anna, who enjoyed making fun of the movie with me the whole time. She told me about the test by Allison Bechdel in her 1985 comic Dykes to Watch Out For called the Bechdel test. It was created to show the underrepresentation of women in the film industry. To pass this test, a movie must pass three questions: Are there two or more women in it with names, do they talk to each other, and when they do talk to each other is it about something other than men? This has been proven as a systematic problem—There are currently 3,102 movies in the Bechdel database. Many superhero movies like Captain America: The First Avenger, The Dark Knight, GI Joe, Transformers, The Green Lantern, X Men, Wolverine, and many others are included in this database.

Don’t get me wrong, Scarlett Johannsen’s role as Black Widow is a total bad ass. It is always fun to watch a beautiful woman use her charm to outwit a nerdy doctor who has a problem with anger management that makes him turn into the Angry Green Giant, but she also plays into a number of gender stereotypes I not only find one-dimensional and trite, but also archaic.

Black Widow’s establishing scene features her in a tight black dress and tied to a chair surrounded by men. A viewer’s first impression is her objectification. Again, how she releases herself from this tied position shows strength and bad-assyness, but the amazement comes from the ‘wow, a girl just beat up all those men’ factor. Her costume would not have been lingerie if she was not to be noticed as a hot female. Black Widow is also the only character in the film who at one point is found sitting in a corner, hugging her knees and cowering.

Cobie Smulders plays Agent Maria Hill. (I had to look up her name because I could only think of her as the girl who plays Robin in How I Met Your Mother.) Agent Hill has an awesome supporting role as a captain who leads an entire ship of servicemen and women the entire film. Not much is learned about anything beyond her position and place with the Avengers and second-in-command to Fury.

Agent Hill and Black Widow do not hold a single conversation with one another, yet are on the same ship-plane-thing the entire movie. 

Also, I think Mark Ruffalo is attractive. 

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