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.