So, I read an article the other day about the new Avengers: Age of Ultron DVD cover. It seems as though Marvel has received a lot of online anguish after not including Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) on one its new DVD covers, possibly the 3D version, but please correct me if I’m wrong. The cover, recently revealed, has the top 4 credited actors pictured all in their superhero garb. As named across the top of the cover, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo and Chris Evans were all lucky enough to make the cut. Hundred of online articles asked the question: ‘where is the Black Widow?’ despite other large characters such as Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye and Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury not being featured either. There is clearly many Marvel viewers out there who are not content with the gender balance in Marvel films and it seems as though this DVD cover reveal was a great chance to have a dig at the female inclusion in the MCU universe. Similarly this has sparked my own feelings towards this gender issue, and where better to discuss it than here?!
There seems to be a lot of gender ‘issues’ created for many Marvel fans as the silver screen is dominated by male actors taking the large roles in solo and group films. Black Widow is the only main female Avenger that has been in multiple films, and forced hold her own in a male orientated team. Many recent films have female characters such as Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and most recently Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). All of these characters are big players in the Marvel movies but this just isn’t enough for some fans who want more diversity across the Avengers team. I think many feel aggrieved by the fact that most of these characters are primarily love interests, and there seems a limited amount of actual female superheroes. We have an abundance of male icons but it seems as though Marvel has fallen short in representing many of the comic female heroes
The argument seems to be focused on Black Widow as she is the leading lady in most of the recent Marvel films having appeared in Iron Man 2, Captain America 2 and both new Avengers films. I think in her first few outings, Natasha Romanov could easily hold her own and was a vital member of the team. Yet her character came under fire after her last storyline in Avengers: Age of Ultron some ways reduced her to the typical female love interest, she lost her edge and some even described her as being more ‘domesticated’. She lost her ruthless edge and her soft side appeared which didn’t make her more human it just sort of ruined the persona that they had already created for her. A love story with Bruce Banner didn’t seem on the cards in earlier movies and it did spoil her for me. Many fans disliked her new dependence on a male counterpart as it reduced her powerful female voice. It seems more apparent due to her flirtatious nature with many of the other characters, is her only function within the Avengers to be the fun sex-appeal? It does seem to skew the gender balance if the only female character doesn’t do much but flirt and be a bit of eye-candy.
However, it seems as though on the whole, the male superheroes have become the most popular. Can Marvel be blamed for pursuing the main male leads in it’s solo films and it’s merchandise? It seems as though the problem has been exacerbated to something bigger than it is. Marvel is by no means a misogynist organisation, there actions are not to spite women or remove them from the MCU Universe, there is simply more cinematic focus on their male counterparts. I think with up and coming characters such as Captain Marvel on the horizon I think it shows that Marvel know their next direction has to be some more female heroes.
Overall, the removal of Black Widow from the cover was simply an opportunity for discontents to attack them, it by no means represents a Marvel attack on women. I admittedly think that Black Widow’s character was moved slightly off course but this wasn’t anything to do with gender. I think in this instance as with many the internet just needs to calm down.