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Monday, August 30, 2010

White superheroes, assemble!

I promised a friend that I would post something coherent about the Avengers cast listing, so here it is.

(you can insert my dance of rage here if you like. It includes the pounding of fists against the wall, stomping on the ground in my Doc Martens, hissing and spitting, and curse words in a variety of languages)

Point #1: The Avengers already has a ridiculously full line-up--Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Iron Man, plus Nick Fury and whatever villains they're using...there's no room for more superpeople.

Rebutttal #1: Actualy, this is a fair point. I can't argue with it in principle. I dislike overcrowded superhero movies (Spider-Man 3 comes to mind, and Iron Man 2 just barely squeaked into the crowded-but-still-good range).

Point #2: Don't be bitching about no women, you angry man-hating feminist! Black Widow is RIGHT THERE.

Rebuttal #2: Yes, Black Widow IS right there. Black Widow also has no business in a team-origin Avengers movie, since she wasn't a member of the original team and--that we know of--she is not acting in a villainous capacity. The only REASON Black Widow is right there is because she was already established in Iron Man 2. Why was she in Iron Man 2? Because Natasha Romanoff is sexy, and so is Scarlett Johansson, and the film needed eye candy. As it played out, "Black Widow" could have been anyone--there was very little about her character in that movie which screamed BLACK WIDOW, which is too bad, because I like Natasha a lot; any superheroine, according to the Powers That Be, can pose and beat people up in a few scenes and wear tight clothing and make Tony Stark salivate.

Point #3: No one likes the Wasp anyway. She's airheaded and shallow and has boring powers.

Rebuttal #3: This is a matter of personal preference, but I also feel that it's sort of a shallow argument. Yes, Janet van Dyne is airheaded and shallow and has boring powers, but her character undergoes significant development over the course of various storylines. Also, if we're going to be shallow, Tony Stark is a womanizing drunk asshole. As far as powers go, she doesn't JUST shrink to wasp-size--she has her energy blasts, and can also grow to several hundred feet tall and gain superhuman strength at that size.

Point #4: What did the Wasp even DO on the Avengers, besides flirt with all the male members?

Rebuttal #4: Uh, she named the team. She also served as its leader on various occasions and was a seasoned strategist. In the Ultimate universe she held two Ph.Ds and was about as far from flighty as possible.

Point #5: You've seen both Iron Man films, the new Hulk film, and you're going to see Thor and Captain America. You knew all along why these particular movies were being made, and what they were leading up to: The Avengers. So why are you pissed off about it now?

Rebuttal #5: Well, it is worth noting that I am not a fan of either Captain America OR Thor, and I don't think the Thor film looks very good. Ok, that isn't an answer. I don't HAVE a good answer. Yes, in the back of my mind as I was watching the Marvel movies and talking about them with my boyfriend, I knew that Avengers was going to be a film of epic bro proportions. But somehow now that it's officially all tied together, it's just rage-inducing. The why of it we will get to in a moment.

Point #6: Edgar Wright is making an Ant-Man film and the Wasp will more than likely be in it. Will that shut you up?

Rebuttal #6: Nope, and here's why. It isn't just about the Wasp's absence from a film about her team. It isn't just about the general absence of superheroines and villainesses from the mainstream comic book movies (because, hello? Marvel might be sucking at this, but DC is too). It's about the fact that BOTH of the biggie comic franchises have really great characters who are female, black, Asian, Native American, gay and lesbian, aliens, robots, and everything in between, but neither Marvel nor DC is putting anything but white men on the big screen. The subtext is still, Only white straight male manly-men sell action films. And there's too much diversity, generally in Marvel and specifically in team line-ups like the Avengers and X-Men, to be anything but outraged when female characters and characters of color are ignored again and again. What will it take to see Heroes for Hire done--or is that line-up a bit too rich for American stomachs (oh noes, not one but TWO black people! One of them's a WOMAN!)? Is it too much to hope for that the Iron Fist movie will have Luke Cage or Misty Knight in it? Would another Avengers line-up, perhaps with Luke Cage, Ronin, and Spider-Woman, have been completely unappealing to the movie-going public? Another target for my ire is the rehashing of the origin story. EVERY MARVEL MOVIE WE HAVE SEEN SO FAR HAS BEEN AN ORIGIN STORY (except for the second Iron Man and that's just because it was a sequel). Why is this still compelling? What would be so wrong with creating a film about a team at the top of its game? If you really just HAD to have some origin in there, what's wrong with a flashback? Do moviemakers really think the audience is so stupid that if a movie opened with the Avengers already assembled, we would be confused? If we were, it would be the fault of bad writing, not because we hadn't seen HOW they assembled.

The tl;dr version of Things Diana Is Sick OF:

+minority characters being shunted to the side
+origin stories
+complete lack of pushing the envelope
+filmmakers catering to the lowest common denominator
+nerd rage only being ok if it comes from fanboys--the opinions of fangirls are automatically invalid, particularly if they are mad about so few female characters getting the spotlight


Anonymous said...

All good points; I especially agree about Black Widow. As you mentioned, there was very little Black Widow-ness about Natasha in IM2 - a poor introduction to the character that does little to establish her appropriateness for the Avengers.

Personally, I'd love to see the Scarlet Witch as part of the Avengers team.

I'm not too thrilled by the prospect of the Captain America and Thor films either. Nor ANOTHER origin story. Seriously, filmmakers, assume your audience is marginally intelligent. We can handle in medias res, I promise.

Diana said...

I would KILL for the Scarlet Witch to be in something--anything! Of course it would've been nice to see an X-Men storyline with her and Quicksilver and Magneto, but since that'll never happen, Avengers definitely should have utilized her. :(

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