Misogynistic Marvel or Am I being too harsh?

While growing up, we girls don’t have many icons to look up to especially when we are very young. It is the time when those fairy-tale damsels in distress and those thin, blonde barbies occupy our interest. And we’re fine with the way they are. It is only when we grow up do we encounter Alice, Hermione or my all time favourite Luna Lovegood. We begin to identify with these new heroines, finally understanding that life isn’t about waiting for your prince or trying to achieve spell-binding beauty(if it exists) and enviable figures. Yes, we were naive when small, unquestioningly believing the ridiculous tale of a slipper, and a glass one at that, fitting none but one female in the entire kingdom.

But everything isn’t all rosy even right now. When even Disney’s Princesses were shedding their glass like fragility, Marvel couldn’t even consider following suit. It hasn’t been too tolerant of female superheroes to speak of but the ongoing outrage against Black Widow is crossing the limits. Marvel’s superheroines can be counted on one’s fingertips and the number diminishes if one includes their appearance in movies. And it would be next to a miracle if these females got a movie all for themselves, more so if they turned out to be blockbuster hits.
I’ve got nothing against MCU. It has provided me the best superheroes to fangirl over and hordes of memes to like on Instagram. There is Iron-man, Spider-man, Hawkeye and everyone’s dearest Captain America. Now for those of you who’re wondering, I have got a separate list of my favourite females, and sadly it’s way too short. There is Storm, Natasha Romanoff and Mystique(but she isn’t a part of MCU). 

The thing is, I have got too little information about them to be as interested. We aren’t provided much of a back story except for those infrequent, short-durational flashbacks that only leave us with more questions. We know nothing about their not so ordinary past. We’d have to visit the marvel database for that but who likes a character for a jumbled mess of facts and features thrown together?

The Wolverine is all over the X Men movies but does Storm get that attention? Her ever-changing hairstyles and her super thin body gets noticed but not her leadership or her amazing mutation. Jennifer Lawrence efficiently portrays Mustique but Lo! Behold! They had to make her fall for Hank. What’s more, she is ashamed of her mutation because she isn’t normal, not pretty or notice-worthy. That’s  what these women’s potential  has come to – romancing their team mates. 

Since her first appearance in Iron- Man 2, we fans have been eagerly waiting for a Black Widow movie but we get Miss Marvel instead. Not that I’m against it: she might be an addition to the list. But with the minimal number of superhero movies with female leads, we were expecting that the next one to come out would have Natasha Romanoff in it. Now it will be years before such a movie comes out.

The thing is, Black Widow has be reduced to nothing more than a slut, that too by the ones playing her team mates. That was quite a while ago but the outrage continues.

We overlook her fighting prowess, her ability to wield numerous weapons, her troubled past and how she emerged from it all the more fierce. We shall ignore the fact that she is an Olympic class athlete, that she took on Hawkeye single-handedly and defeated him, that it wasn’t  just Steve Rogers who could ride a motorbike or that she has often kept the backs of our dear, dear avengers. 

Rather, we’ll specifically observe her tight fitting suit, the curves of her body, her cleavage visible through the low neckline she was made to wear. We’ll swoon over Nat’s and Steve’s kiss on that escalator, speculate her enigmatic past with Clint and ridicule her relationship with Bruce. Because this is the highly patriarchal Marvel universe and it simply cannot let a promising woman shine, not because of her love-life, but because of her own virtues.

Because a man who enjoys the company of several women can proudly call himself “A genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist”(no offence to Tony Stark and I have a prized mug to prove it) but a woman doing just the same is tagged as a slut. Thank you Marvel.

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12 thoughts on “Misogynistic Marvel or Am I being too harsh?”

  1. I think DC does a much better job with their female superheroes than Marvel although the new Spider-Man (Ultimate Spider-Man) has a great female character in White Tiger. Personally Rouge was always my favourite X-Men character but I think Jean Grey was always a strong character too.

    To be fair, the classic Disney movies such as Cinderella and The Little Mermaid were based on centuries old fairy-tales and reflect the view of women at the time those stories were written. And even with that many of those tales showed young women facing danger, rebelling against injustice and defining their own paths (think Belle protecting her father or The Little Mermaid fighting to be with the man she loves).

    It is frustrating when female characters are reduced to a set of boobs and a love interest and I too wonder why female super heroes are always so scantily clad. But I think, in comparison to other areas in the arts, comics have been quite forward thinking in their treatment of women.

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    1. Hi Vicky, great take on my sketch! Love your choice of papers. And this sweet image is coloured so beautiful. Fabulous emhislilbeng as well!Have a wonderful day!Hugs, Karina

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  2. I have not explored DC to a satisfactory extent. And yes, I had forgotten White Tiger. I love the way she fights. But I have not been too fond of Rogue because I didn’t like her for being ashamed of her mutation and giving it up the first chance she got jist so she could be kissed by her boyfriend. No doubt, it must have been difficult to live your life in constant terror of hurting someone you love just by touching them but the whole idea of a mutant facility was to nurture those abilities. Jean was quite a strong character but the amount of romance they attached to her wasn’t enjoyed by myself, especially in Wolverine 2 where she exclusively appears in Logan’s dreams that too in her nightie.
    I love fairytales and take out my collection once in a while to read them but I can’t ignore their flaws now. That someone could cut off bits of their feet or give up their voice to be loved by a prince. It was a different era but Disney could have used a little more tweaking aside from removing the more terrible aspects. That is why I like reading retellings with a twist. Beauty and the Beast has been a favourite with me because Belle likes books and because her love interest is not a human until the end (and I would rather he had not turned into a prince even in the live action version: Princes are puny). I like the newer Disney Princesses too like Rapunzel and Merida.
    Comic books and certain books have been ahead of their time in portraying women. I like reading Austen because her female character were rational minded and stong willed, contrary to their constantly swooning contemporaries in other books. But it still hasn’t been satisfactory. If you take the comic version of Black Widow, you will see that her missions included romancing others in order to pry information from them. But this is taken against her, surely with reason, but we choose to ignore that Tony Stark has indiscriminately romanced with several women or that Logan was no better off. (But they still are my favourites).
    Thank you for taking out the time to comment

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  3. Ah, we have a generational difference here. The original Rogue in the cartoon I watched as a child in the 90’s was neither a teenager nor was she ashamed of her mutation. And Jean Grey was much more than Wolverine and Cyclops’ love interest.

    It’s good that you now see the outdated thinking in those old fairy tales.

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  4. Not harsh at all, I think! 😀 There is way too much sexism in Marvel??? It’s so frustrating how they’re perpetuating the idea that women are only there to be eye candy or something for the male heroes. We need more Hermione’s! Loved this discussion. ❤

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