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Ant Man and the Problem of Marvel’s Necessary Women

Over the weekend, I saw Marvel’s Ant Man, and, much to my surprise, I really enjoyed it. It’s an incredibly fun movie, full of schemes and adventure that strike a great balance between dramatic and ridiculous. But, like many Marvel movies before it, it has a slight female character problem.

Yes, the movie has multiple named female characters. Yes, one of them is “kickass.” And no, it doesn’t pass the Bechdel test. But the most significant thing was that it suddenly made clear to me a problem with Marvel movies, and with a lot of movies in general: the only characters that are female are those that have to be female.

At least, those that have to be female from a heteronormative Hollywood perspective.

Ant Man’s named female characters are Ant Man’s love interest, his ex-wife, his daughter, and Agent Carter.

A superhero has to have a love interest (and preferably one that can do backflips), so Hope Pym appears. His ex-wife has to be female, so she’s there, although she’ll get less development than her new fiance. His daughter needs to be a girl, because this is a story about him wanting to protect his child, and because it needs parallels between his own fears and Hank Pym’s concerns about Hope. And Agent Carter is female because she was Captain America‘s love interest, once upon a time, and then people liked her so she stuck around.

Everyone who could be male or female is male. The members of Scott’s criminal gang. Hank Pym’s protege. The cops. The agents of Hydra. The lab guards. The Avenger that Scott fights. Even if you look at the full cast, credited and uncredited on IMDB, it’s 90% male, for such gender-reliant roles as “shareholder” and “pedestrian.” (I think there might have been a female researcher in the lab who said a line or two? But that’s about it).

This is also something of a problem with racial diversity, where there’s a lot of minority actors playing criminals, but not so many playing successful scientists and businessmen. But I’ll leave those who are much better informed than I am to comment on that.

Ant Man was a particularly blunt example of only including female characters who NEED to be female, but previous Marvel movies have generally stuck to the same idea. Generally speaking, the superheroes are men. Secondary characters who aren’t love interests or mothers are men. Occasionally, someone will remember that women exist and cast one as a scientist (as in Age of Ultron) or as the token female warrior in an otherwise all-male group (like in Thor), but otherwise, male is the default, and female needs a reason to exist.

And that reason will, of course, come down to her relationship to the male protagonist.

Ant-Man also seemed to think that it could get away with using old women-erasing tropes by turning them into plot points. Hank Pym was traumatized by the death of his wife, but don’t worry! She didn’t get fridged, because her absence will now play a large role in her daughter‘s story. And yes, Hope is overlooked as a potential superhero, despite the fact that she’s far more capable than anyone else, and certainly more capable than Scott, but there’s a reason for that! Her father’s love! He’s protecting her, even at the cost of the mission! And he will relent and give her the gift of potential superpowers by the end of the credits.

And meanwhile, although Paul Rudd’s Ant Man is quite likeable, there is absolutely no indication of why Hope might fall for him, beyond the fact that she’s the only young single female character in the movie, so of course she’s going to fall for him.

So. Women are rare creatures in Ant Man, only appearing when absolutely necessary. The women that do appear only do so in relation to our male protagonists, without any compelling narratives of their own. And although the movie had the opportunity to include two female superheroes among this elite “absolutely can’t be male so I guess we’ll hire a woman” group, it somehow managed to exclude both of them in different ways.

But hey. That Thomas the Tank Engine fight scene was fun, right? Who needs good female characters when you’ve got that?

Rhiannon

Rhiannon Thomas is the author of A WICKED THING and KINGDOM OF ASHES. She lives in York, England.

32 thoughts on “Ant Man and the Problem of Marvel’s Necessary Women

  1. Sometimes I think it could be summed up with “they love women (because they are not gay*) but not respect them as equals”.
    *Yes, that’s homophobe. It would be interesting if they break the pattern by having some same sex relationships or not romantic relationships…
    Since they don’t want to fell sexist, they let her do something “usefull” at some point. But never, ever, be the main hero or be better that the hero. They should be “good” but not as good. Sad, really sad.

    1. And Hope should have steal the suit and go against her father wishes. But I guess that would never have pass their mind, since “good girls are supposed to do as told” and heaven forbid that a woman make her own choices or disobey…

      1. Or because the movie is about ant man, an established marvel character, and hope is going to be the wasp in upcoming films. They could have switched sexes maybe and hope be pyms son instead but then by your logic the “wasp” movie with a man instead of a woman would have been sexist. Or do both characters need to be female for you to not be cynical? I thought it was weird how in the movie the male characters cared about saving the world AT ALL and werent masturbating and drooling the entire time like all men do in real life. Very unbelievable. Also why wasnt hope japanese? Obviously the writers hate asians.

        1. It seems this is a sensitive topic for you. You know gender ebnding is athing, right? But my post wasn’t about that, you are the one bringing this up, what make me thing you are using an straw man to not adress the real point. Wich is, that many times heroes doesn’t follow orders or don’t care if they are forbidden to do things if they thinks that’s what they have to do. You can see that in wolverine all the time, or Indiana Jones, or new mutants, runaways ring a bell? Plenty of stories with heroes disobeying their mentors and fathers. So why not this time? Would have made sense story wise. But no, because they wanted to make the film *only* about antman, but get a pass as having “strong women”. Sorry, but no, they succed only on the first part.

          But if you really want to use the argument that the “movie is about antman, well, there’s plenty of post about why made a movie about antmant and not about both, Wasp and Antman. You know they were a couple, right? And by the way, the canon material in comics said Hank Pym hit the Wasp… But it looks as if you accept some changes that improve the male characters (like not being abusers or create ultron so they can play the hero…) but not when it comes to female characters (like Hope saving the day)… Anyway, if I were really cynical (that was an ad hominem attack? XD), then I would ask why they made a movie about a not so popular character and not about Black Widow. That or say that, yes, they have to put Hope there so we know he’s not gay, having a love interest it’s part of the standard XDDD (It’s a joke).

          But then again, your long rant about your beliefs on why “girls” don’t like comics and about the comic industry being “nice trying to be inclusive” show that you don’t care about discusion. You want to believe that there’s no discrimination so when people who likes comics try to make them better by pointing the problems they see, you felt attacked and say things like “it’s obvious we don’t love comics”. Sorry to pop your bubble, but i’ve been reading comics since I was a child, couple of decades now. And you know what? Some of them are good and some are bad. Some of them can be good and sexist at the same time. And I’ve no obligation to buy a comic I don’t like so the industry makes money. No, marvel and DC are trying to be more inclusive because people like me, aren’t buying their comics anymore. We are buying indie comics, and writting new stories. And it seems that what you call “fans” aren’t enough to make their comics and movies profitable, so they try to attract more people. And yes, people like us. As you said, they know their target objetive and it’s not just teenager boys anymore. They may priorice them, but since the price it’s the same for all, we get to give our two cents as anyone else.

          And because people like me, now there’s more variety and better quality. Forces marvel and DC to do it better. They are not forced to change, but they aren’t entitled to my support no matter what so guys like you considered us “real” fans. We do like comics and superheroes, just not the ones you like. And sorry to dissapoint, but you don’t get to say what we like or care. Or that we don’t love the medium. We are fans, neither we need don’t anyones approval. Deal with it, not all fans are the same or like the same things.

          1. You are quite the long ranter yourself! But I read the whole post. Let me clarify my point. If this movie and these characters had just been created, all your points would be valid. You are viewing this movie with no understanding of the history of the characters. To you its just a new marvel flick. But if I can get bob marley for a second, if you knew your history then you would know where im coming from. First point, wolverine never disobeyed his parents, indiana jones didnt either. In the last movie indiana argued with his dad constantly but still let him take the reigns. The child parent dynamic is something you are not taking into account. As far as history you need to know that the reason she could not be antman was because the guy who made the suit forbid it and its his suit and second because ant man is a man, this is not an ant woman movie. The classic teamup in marvel comics is antman and the wasp. If you wrote this movie the way you wanted to then it would be in a manner that does not respect the marvel characters. I would be fine with an antwoman movie btw. Sounds awesome to me but its kind of pointless since the classic team of wasp and antman was a married heterosexual couple. Now if you want something different I say write your own comic. I mean that too, not in a negative way. make your own characters diy, but accusing the writers of sexism when they are clearly just trying to make fans, the people who support these characters, happy… it is just not realistic or true. She is a powerful businesswoman who answers to only one person in this film, her father. The only way she could have been higher is if she were antman, the main character. Or if hank pym, her father, was a woman. But this would not be true to the comic book. This is a new and different movie altogether. Maybe its a better movie, maybe this movie would have been better with ALL women roles. But then you are not respecting the history of the characters, you have created new characters. It was obvious to fans like me at the end of the movie that the reason for all of the “sexism” you are decrying is they are respecting the character “the wasp” and are setting her up for her own movie OR to put her in the avengers. This makes me extremely happy, because the wasp is the LEADER of the avengers. Thats right, this sexist movie, if done right and kept true to the comics, will mean that in upcoming movies she will tell iron man what to do. Also if keeping true to the comics she will stand up to her drunk abusive husband and divorce him. The wasp is was and if the people who wrote this movie keep it up, always will be a strong female character. If you are a real feminist and knew your history you would have cried when you saw her father give her

            1. You are quite the long ranter yourself! But I read the whole post. Let me clarify my point. If this movie and these characters had just been created, all your points would be valid. You are viewing this movie with no understanding of the history of the characters. To you its just a new marvel flick. But if I can get bob marley for a second, if you knew your history then you would know where im coming from. First point, wolverine never disobeyed his parents, indiana jones didnt either. In the last movie indiana argued with his dad constantly but still let him take the reigns. The child parent dynamic is something you are not taking into account. As far as history you need to know that the reason she could not be antman was because the guy who made the suit forbid it and its his suit and second because ant man is a man, this is not an ant woman movie. The classic teamup in marvel comics is antman and the wasp. If you wrote this movie the way you wanted to then it would be in a manner that does not respect the marvel characters. I would be fine with an antwoman movie btw. Sounds awesome to me but its kind of pointless since the classic team of wasp and antman was a married heterosexual couple. Now if you want something different I say write your own comic. I mean that too, not in a negative way. make your own characters diy, but accusing the writers of sexism when they are clearly just trying to make fans, the people who support these characters, happy… it is just not realistic or true. She is a powerful businesswoman who answers to only one person in this film, her father. The only way she could have been higher is if she were antman, the main character. Or if hank pym, her father, was a woman. But this would not be true to the comic book. This is a new and different movie altogether. Maybe its a better movie, maybe this movie would have been better with ALL women roles. But then you are not respecting the history of the characters, you have created new characters. It was obvious to fans like me at the end of the movie that the reason for all of the “sexism” you are decrying is they are respecting the character “the wasp” and are setting her up for her own movie OR to put her in the avengers. This makes me extremely happy, because the wasp is the LEADER of the avengers. Thats right, this sexist movie, if done right and kept true to the comics, will mean that in upcoming movies she will tell iron man what to do. Also if keeping true to the comics she will stand up to her drunk abusive husband and divorce him. The wasp is was and if the people who wrote this movie keep it up, always will be a strong female character. If you are a real feminist and knew your history you would have cried when you saw her father give her the suit, like I did. Because you would know what it potentially means.

              1. Sure I am a ranter. But if you are going to claim that “You are viewing this movie with no understanding of the history of the characters. To you its just a new marvel flick.” Then, why aren’t you upset that this Hank Pym didn’t hit his wife? (https://www.google.es/search?q=hank+pym+domestic+abuse&oq=hank+pym+abu&aqs=chrome.3.69i57j0l4.7469j0j7&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=0&ie=UTF-8)

                Or create ultron because he felt insecure and needed to play the hero? (https://www.google.es/search?q=hank+pym+domestic+abuse&oq=hank+pym+abu&aqs=chrome.3.69i57j0l4.7469j0j7&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=0&ie=UTF-8#q=hank+pym+ultron)

                Marvel have made many changes from the comics and they have made choices about what changes make. As you said, Wasp and antman were a couple. The movie could have been about the both of them easily, but they make the choice to kill Jane. They made the choice to erase the abuse she suffered so Hank become less… flawed. They made the choice that he didn’t create ultron to play the hero by being the only one who could stop him… (as if creating a psicotic robot could be good ever). So if you are going to tal about respecting the story, why aren’t you complaining about Hank not being abusive? That’s canon.

                By the way, Hope is not Janet, you are confusing two different women. There’s two antman and the Wasp who divorced Hank Pym is dead in the movie. So in the movie there’s no abuse and no divorce and can’t happen because Janet is dead. So your suppositions about Wasp playing leader of the avengers in the films? Could be just wishfull thinking on your part.

                Sure, in the comics Wasp is an interesting character who become strong with the years. But the films are different and we are discussing the films.

                And I would say that it makes sense not to add more characters in avengers films unless you take some, because in two hours too many characters won’t work well. Also there’s the economic part, I think robert downey jr might end before Wasp join the avengers, so even if she joins and they made her leader (unlikely while Captain is in the team), she won’t be giving orthers to Ironman.

                Wolverine don’t disobey his father, but he disobey Xavier. Indie Disobey his father to become Indie in the first plane. You have ignored new mutans, runaways, Daken and all the other strong willed characters who chose to disobey some father or mother or mentor figure in order to perform an heroic feat. The comic Wasp (Jane) became really strong willed, Hope is shown as the same. So that concrete choice, is based in sexist asumptions. Sorry if that opinion make you unconfortable with your obvius enjoyment of the movie. But you know you can like something and be critic of some parts of it, right? XD

                And you still do strawman by telling that we want all characters to be women or that we called the writters sexist. No, I said that the choices they have make don’t add up story wise.

                Also, what make you think you get to define who love comics or who is a “real feminist”? You keep claiming that “if I knew my history” but it seems to me that you are the one who should read that comics again. Not that it really matters in film context, because as I said, Marvel have made changes in the movies to reach a broad audience and because they don’t have the rights for mutants in the films. Also to reach to people who haven’t read the comics. I can accept changes, but at the same time, changes mean choices and people have the right to question that choices. As simple as that.

                “The classic teamup in marvel comics is antman and the wasp.” But they chose to kill Janet out of the film and put Hope instead, making the film only about antman? Be honest, what do you think about that choice? Why do you think wasn’t Hank sacrificing himself out of screen? Story wise and keeping with comics, they could have said that he did that to redeem himself for being an abuser, after the divorce…

                Don’t tell me that “if I was a real feminist and knew my history”. They’ve made creative choices and we are talking about that choices.

                1. I never said I liked the movie I said I liked the wasp. I never said hank shouldnt have a mental breakdown but do you think a studio would give the ok to make the flagship film for this character abusive when they want kids to watch it? Wanting all characters to be women is a viable option I never said that wouldnt be great just saying if they choose to not go that route is not a sign they are trying to exclude women neccesarily they could just be trying to keep the mostly white heterosexual male fans happy because they need this movie to make money above all else, hollywood is not about artistic expression its not the same as your options when you are sitting at your house writing you have more freedom. When I said IF you are a feminist (i dont know you, you could be anti feminist or gender neutral or anything under the sun i dont assume you are just feminist) AND you knew the history of these characters I was not questioning your loyalty just saying that if you were my age and loved these characters you would know that in my day you were ostracized for liking them and were shamed if you talked about them, you would never in a million years think they would ever make these films or that they would be popular and just the fact that they tried is like awesome even if it wasnt the way I would do it. And if you had gone through that the feeling of seeing them on the big screen would have made you cry a little. And there are some points you made about me not acknowledging janets death and wasp and antman being a team I do address these I think the problem is I wrote so much you are having trouble keeping my points straight. That is my fault I am too long winded. As for your takes on the story I think your movie would have been much better and I have said this before but you need to understand im defending the writers here and im not sure you made it clear do you think the writers are sexist or the studio? Because for all you know the writers could have run your ideas for this movie by the producers and been told to go f themselves. And I never said you called the writers sexist I was genuinely confused on that point because this was a writers site I thought the implication was that the writers were to blame here but if thats not the case my bad yall. And I am fine with your critiques I never told you to shut up or anything like that why do you think I dont want to hear what you say? I think you might be projecting on me I am not calling anyone names or trying to stifle conversation. I wish you had wrote the movie, my point is if you were the writer you would not have the freedom you do here and unless you decided to quit the job would be forced to make changes you might not agree with. And then i would be defending you against people who say you are sexist and racist.

          2. This is a sensative topic btw because I love the wasp and I was super mad that she was not in the avengers movie since she is the FOUNDER of the avengers in the comics. Now if you want a sexist marvel movie that first avengers takes the cake. The only female character is wearing skintight plastic and has one line to every male characters 20. That movie was awful. Black widow is not even a founding member they just put her in because she has a more revealing costume. I see antman as paul rudd trying to fix this mistake by giving the wasp the respect she deserves.

          3. I did not defend against all of your charges because the writers of the movie had little to do with a lot of the producers decisions. They were given this script to rewrite the original was not intended to be in the marvel cinematic universe and did not include the wasp. She was added later to a movie already called antman so she could be in future movies. Also It would not have made sense to have hope become antman because then how does she become the wasp? Would she be both characters? Also I didnt respond to your homosexual post I am certain this movie had a heterosexual bias like pretty much all big budget hollywood films. As for not listening to parents having a character listen to her father is only realistic or unrealistic depending on the character. This character might just respect her father it is not fair to the writers to say this is an obvious sexist trait especially when her becoming the wasp hinges upon

            1. Ugh sorry I type so much I understand if you dont read all this, it hinges upon her NOT getting in the antman suit. The limitations of trying to include this character, make her pivotal and making an antman movie probably creates a lot of problems for writers trying to make this movie under budget, time constraints and keeping producers AND fans AND newcomers happy made this a vulnerable movie and it is unfair to write off decisions you disagree with as merely sexism on the writers part. This movie was already 2 hours long if it was an antman wasp teamup movie im not sure you or anyone else could have given proper characterization to both of them. And really it would have been a lesser film because the wasp deserves to be more than just one half of a team movie. She can hold her own 2 hour movie just fine if enough fans see the movie if the cry is loud enough hopefully they will.

            2. That the producers make the decision doesn’t change the fact that they chose to make the film only about antman, kill Janet off-screen and erase Hank’s abusive and flawed past (creation of ultron).

              In the context of the film, yes, Hope could have wear the antman suit and later get a suit more suited for her. Or since his father has given the antman suit to other, found the Wasp suit on her own, steal it and join the action just when the rookie new antman is in a tough spot, adding tension and surprise. So the first time we get to see the wasp, could have been a lot more dramatic. That way, both antman and wasp could fight as a couple like in the comics. See? not that difficult. Of course that would mean they would share the glory, not antman being the only hero. You can even do that withouth that much change in the movie and the title remain antman… And if I, a not profesional writter can think of a way to put Wasp in the middle of the action, are you saying that marvel, with a full team of producers, writters and directors, can’t? really?

              There’s many ways to writte a story. Producers affect the outcome, as lawyers and even the fans. Wasp was added after lost of complaining of feminist comics fans and they didn’t want to lose that money. Again, we are giving our opinion about the changes marvel as a company have chose to make. I’ll make it easy, what would you have preffered, an antman movie or an antman and the Wasp movie? Why do you think producer have chose to make the film only about a man (actualy about two, the old and the new antman)? Why do you think that marvel haven’t released a single film with a female lead? In you own words, if the wasp deserves a movie on her own, then why not make a Wasp movie instead and scratch the antman movie?

              How many solo character movies has marvel done? What would be the ratio male/female by the time they release the first film with a female solo lead? You really still want to claim that those choices don’t mean something? Yeah, sure. XD

              1. You sell yourself short id watch your version in a minute but you arent taking capitalism into account which is the real problem here. Two heroes take the glory, sounds fine… except for all the fans who complained the avengers was too crammed. And I think they were right just too many characters saying stupid generic stuff, I want the wasp and antman FAR away from that. And I never said marvel wasnt sexist nor the producers I just felt that this is a writers site and you were saying the writers were solely responsible for the rash decisions, I doubt thats true IF thats what you meant maybe you didnt. This film had lots of problems and almost did not get made I think the writers deserve credit for trying to salvage it and put a strong female character in and try to give an opening to the wasp. Now maybe marvel execs decide they dont want to do a wasp movie, thats not the writers fault they tried. You are a writer so you can surely tell this was a rush job to get this movie out. If it falls short there are literally 50 other people to blame before you get to the writers. What if they wanted janet to live but couldnt get funding for another high caliber actress or were told the run time wouldnt allow it? Did you notice how wasp went subatomic and was never shown to actually die? It mirrors a story in the comics where she actually does go subatomic and instead of dying goes to another dimension. This is a great way to leave her open for a possible return if the outcry is large enough. These studios are driven by profit purely, they have people who need to work with families to feed, if they know people want to see the wasp they will make the film. You make sacrifices that may not neccesarily be motivated by sexism or racism is all im saying. I read a reviewer (not you) say there were too many white extras in the film so it must be racism, except most of the time extras are hired through third party companies who just send emails to all of their talent so unless they were literally turning away brown skinned folks it was not up to anyone except who ever could make it to shoot that day. If a bunch of white guys show up you cant just stop production to find non whites. The studio is under a lot of time and budget restraints. I thought it was weird that antman was a thief and only had black friends. Also falcon seemed to be guarding the avengers… like, he is pretty important…do they just send him out like hes one of the guards and not an elite? But maybe it was like, well the producers want an avenger cameo in this movie so instead of another white guy in the film like thor we could get the lone black avenger since we are stuck writing a movie with white characters made by white guys. To me having been on the other side of it (im not paul rudd btw but respect my privacy please I had nothing to do with this or any marvel film) I know this is more likely to be a couple of progressive guys trying to be inclusive in spite of a studio fueled by greed and less a situation of two overtly sexist racist guys bumbling in the dark. They REALLY tried when they didnt have to. They could have written this SO much worse and just coasted with their money. Everyone falls short from time to time but I see no need to shame people who are earnestly trying. And when I said girls in my earlier post I was not condescending I literally meant female children. There was a huge backlash in the 80s against nerds and girls were much less likely to read comic books because of a fear of being labeled an outsider. Most boys were anti nerd too but girls were much worse. Your generation is much more inclusive and pro nerd than mine was.

                1. Writting is a hobbie. I’ve no intention to work as a writter. XD But since I’ve been a reader for a long time, I’ve learned how stories work. Having said that, I want to point out that the number of characters in may story and the official movie, would be the same. Barely a couple of changes. So no, won’t be confusing or flet crammed. Big difference between 5 or 7 characters and 2 instead of one…

                  The first avengers movie supposedly worked as a “crossover”. If you have seen the other movies, Captain and Thor were already know to the public. Crossover it’s a marketing strategy to introduce the public to new products 😉

                  The point is, they planed even a Hawk eye movie, but not a Black Widow movie because (in the CEO’s words) “she already played a big supporting role for the Captain and Iron man”. Later, after the people asking for the Widow movie and complaining for lack of merchandise for de only female avenger… Someone listened and released “Lucy”, a movie starring Scarlet Johanson playing a character with powers. The movie was a success and highly profitable. If I worked for marvel I would have take the hint and acknowledge the error. But no, even with Hunger Games, and other female lead movies hitting the screens and being succesfull, Marvel decided that “they have already planed their next movies and there was no need for change… until DC anounced a Wonder Woman movie. I you interact with CEO’s you’ll realice that many times they make decisions based on “guts”, not facts. And later, they try to rationalice away choices that aren’t that good. (Note: Rhiannon did a really good job writting about this precise topic, no pint in repeating what she already have said better).

                  As it happens, I do know how the marked works and supporting “the medium” meaning that we buy whatever they release even if we don’t like it and not complaining doesn’t work. What works it’s buying only what you like and complain when they give you a product that you don’t like, same as in anyother product.

                  As for the problems in the script. It’s to be expected that there’s pressures from the producers and the public. So if you chose to work as a profesional writter you should accept that not everyone would like your work and even if they like it, they might complain about parts of it. Having said that, I don’t know if the writters are sexist or not, neither their reasons for the changes from the comics. But what I know is that those choices are sexist. Could happen, someone who’s not sexist doing something that is because is the “easy solution” and we are conditioned to accept certain things.

                  I do understand why change the part about Hank not being an abuser I can imagine. And I want to remember you that in other post you talked of a movie with the Wasp overcoming that abuse and divorcing… But my point remain. Saying that “you don’t understand the context of the comics”, stop to working as an excuse in the moment you kill Janet off-screen and erase that (important) part of the character. By the way, I don’t mind that change, just saying that same you make that change, you could make others and the movie has to be judged on it’s own merits.

                  As for the aprt about backgound… Well, I’m from another country, thing work different here. But I can tell you the being a girl nerd (I interpreted in the literal sense, may be that this is not my language XD), was a lot more difficult that being a male nerd here. As in videogames, many times you’ll face hostility because they though of you as an “intruder” and other just though of you as a “girldfried”, not as a fan on your own right. Funny thing, the people that treat you that way are a minority, but since they are the first that interact with you, make to know normal people in the hobbie a lot more difficult. So girls hide. Keep reading, and writting, and doing neerd stuff, just not go to nerd events and keep to their groups of friends. Really few went to comics stores alone and even less to conventions. And I’m from ’78, might be that we are not as far away in age. Point is, I’m not resentfull with people that doesn’t accept me when I was a nerd child, just looked out for people that liked me and that I like. What happend in the past is not relevant to this critic (or anyother). Or since some idiots told me that I didn’t belong in comics when I was a girl should still act as if that were the case? Of course not. We won, superheroes are mainstream now. So it’s time we accept things have changed. Now that we are accepted, it’s time we use for something positive and include other people, not act as the “meanies” who excludes when we were childs.

                  Internet changed the market and how we interact. Now many girls and women ordered their comics online or read web comics. You wont see them at comic stores unless they get something of there that they can’t just order. But they are part of the market. Internet makes easier to writte your own stuff and share it. And that has forced companies to evolve and “try to be more inclusive”. You said that the writters didn’t have to be inclusive, that’s only partialy true. They can chose to not be, but this time it would cost them. They would lost viewers and face, and these people would get what they want in a webserie or fanfiction. I don’t have numbers, but I can tell you that 5-10% of viewers it’s a big load of money. And they might be a lor more, because when you are in a dominant position in the market, your only way to grow it’s make the market grow… Marvel and DC need women and girls. So not much of a real choice there.

                  By the way, I never said that they try to exclude women, what I said it’s that that’s what is happening. Intention is different than action or results. Now, if you make a mistake (with the best intention) an as a result you hurt someone or, less dramatic, create some friction, there’s several paths. One is to deny it, wich would probably would lead to repeat the same mistake. Other is try to learn from it and try do better next time. I would say that’s what Rhiannon try to achieve with this blog: discussion to learn and improve.

                  Now, to be honest, this is a feminist blog and we are discussing only feminist topics about the movie. In a normal critic, usualy you talk also about what they have get right. Marvel have been changing the “girlfriends” to be less damsel in distress and a little more rounded. That’s good. But women and girls who love the characters, want more. We want to be heroes, not supporting characters (and not “the girlfriend” as that infamous T-shirts). That’s an untapped market.

                  Funny thing? In waiting so long to do a female lead superhero movie they are adding a lot more pressure for the writter and director who has to do it. If they have released a Black Widow movie when they released the other avengers mivies, it would have been just another avenger movie and the people who worked on it would just focus on doing a good movie. Now? Since it would be the only female lead movie and the spectations have rise so much it would be a lot harder. And that pressure could make it fail because people could crack under it. I suppose that if they chose to release several female lead superhero movie they could reduce that pressure, but I doub that happens.

                  PD: Separating paragraphs helps to make long post easy to read. By the way, it’s not that i don’t understand your point, it’s that we disagree (nothing wrong with that). Take the critics as a way to improve. I know from experience, that even if it’s hard and force you to examine yourself, on the long term it’s worth it.

                  Think of the rewards, the first company who get a female superhero right would have a really big market in merchandise (see people customicing black Widow dolls or asking for it). Tough job but big price. Sometimes companies need to be bold and maybe google has the numbers I don’t. Wish I could work in that kind of data mining. XDDD

                  1. I dont disagree with any of that. I was wrong thinking you were blaming only the writers and having a narrow view but you clarified your position it is all logical. I would add that if a movie comes up very short to your expectations when criticising it you should give examples of how you would rather it have been done. Because I never imagined they would ever make an antman or wasp movie I had no expectations of how the film SHOULD be made so I was happy they made it all. Like when the first spiderman came out I was not critical because I was just grateful they made it at all but now I watch it and I dont think toby was a good peter parker at all. And mary jane was just a one dimensional counter object/love interest with no characterization. She just happened to be whoever peter parker needed her to be to move the story along. Sexist or not it was lazy writing. And if there were fans who pointed this out at the time sony didnt listen and the rest of the films that followed made the same mistakes over and over again and were just worse and worse. So yes please complain when movies suck and if they dont change dont support them.

                    BREAK… I understand making captain america first because his story begins in the past and it was more a world war 2 film and less a super hero movie so they could get a more diverse demographic to make it more successful. But Then I would have made your movie with the wasp and antman based in the 60s then make the avengers movie where old jan finds cap in the present and introduce hope to take the wasp uniform and have her form the avengers with tony stark because as a businessman she would reasonably already know stark and collaborate with him. Then a 100% spy movie with black widow solo where she uncovers hydras shield takeover with moondragon as the villain/anti hero and then do agents of shield, agent carter tv shows to go with black widows movie. But I am not sure how iron man and thor would fit in there. I was never a big iron man fan in the comics but did like downeys take on him. I personally would lose the hulk altogether and retconn it so she hulk had his origin story because theres no good reason to keep him a man. And she would just be hulk not she hulk, the female version of hulk. Then a black widow sequel but this time super hero film with cap moondragon vision wasp and introduce spider woman as the villain leaving it open for her to become a hero. Then a mystical more magic focused film with dr strange where moondragon comes in connecting the avengers movies but not having those characters and introduce iron fist and misty knight and maybe colleen wing and power man if it doesnt get too cluttered.

                    1. Comic adaptation is tricky. You have to reconcile “old school fans” (wich aren’t all white straight cys males) and the new ones. But it’s not only about expectations, it’s about telling a story the best way you can with the restrictions (time, budget, bosses) you have. In fact, if it depends on me, I would scratch the first part, I would try to create a good story no matter who likes it and who don’t. That’s the reason I rather writte as a hobbie and not become profesional. I writte what I want.

                      Now, for someone who wants to proffit, the best course of action is create a good product and treat all fans the same, no matter if it is the cheerleader that make fun of nerds but sudently join de club (is an exageration/stereotipe) or the old time fan who have been reading comics from decades ago. Everyone who go to see the movie is a fan an has the same importance. So the first step whould be gather data. Not think or say that “this is what the fans want” or “everyone knows”, because many times, once you really test that, you’ll find out you were wrong. Case in point, Superheroes used to be considered something only nerds like. Now they have create better films and people have become excited. People who many of us though would never be interested. That’s facts.

                      Same happen with “minorities” (I use quotes because it happens that they might be discriminated, but they are more people that white male demographic). Look the vloggers, de you tube series and shows, fanfictions… That’s the tools those people are using to fill for market gaps (writting our own stories, as you usually suggest when we complain XD). I you do a quick search in fanfiction and find many Black Widow stories, that’s a hint. Specialy if there’s many readers and commenters… And if you find that there many female OC in a TV show or movie that was mostly male cast? Another hint. Many people of color, LGBT? Same. Fiction about vampires? About magic?

                      Point is, there’s ways to know what that people want. And many times it’s compatible with what old school want. After all, the old Storm,was already a great character. Or many of the ones you mention. But while you know wich character people like you like, you need to find out wich ones were the ones the other demographics like. Because even if you chose out of fandom love (I think thats a feeling many people here knows), that might blind you to the fandom love of that other demographics.

                      And I think that the greater the other demographic is the greater that white male become. For example, I liked a lot better the second Captain movie because the other characters replica. Make Steve a lot more relatable and human. First movie was good, but the second for me was better because it shows a part of the Captain that while important, many times is overlooked. He’s out of place in this time. Also he’s a leader, so he shines when he’s surrounded by the best people, people that can be more powerfull than him, but that listen to him because he’s trustworthy. That’s the best part of Captain america but many times is lost. In the first time he leads because he’s faster and stronger, in the second, people follow him because his morals wich is a lot more interesting for me.

                      Chosing Thor and Ironman makes sense from Marvel point of view, they are popular. But now, since they have put Black Widow there, it would be logical to make her movie, same as Captain. You could even add Hawk and Captain in Black Widow movie, since it’s already stablish that they get along and trust each other.

                      Or maybe one for Wanda, since she’s already there. OR even a movie in wich Black Widow mentor Wanda, who have lost her brother recently and is new to that world. In fact, for Doctor extrange, you could use Wanda as a link with the avengers. Work with what you already have and all that. For short stories (and I think movies work in a similar way) is a good idea use characters and things that the people already know because it saves time/space that otherwise you would have to use to introduce the character or explain background. Moondragon and She-hulk are choices I like, I’ll give you that. But of the two of them, I think that She-Hulk would be easier to market, because she’s well know and liked. Moondragon is more complicated because is a complex character and it might be difficult to traslate to a movie. It can be done, but would take lots of work and attention to detail…

                      I don’t object to the movies they have made, some of them are better than others, but it’s OK. What I’m saying if that there’s space for more variety and that if you give it some though and talk with others it’s not that difficult to include and improve a little everytime. Probably some “beta readers – consultants” could help too. I mean, if a white guy want to include POC in his movie, could be good to ask POC opinion before release. Then, they can point out the most obvius flaws they see and suggest how to correct them. Maybe even give you some ideas. Even the ones you don’t like and don’t use for whatever reason, would help you understand them better and learn something new. Anyway, that’s what I would do, read a lot, document, gather data and seek others opinion to “error-proof” what I writte. Editing is not only about Typos sames as production is not only about budget. XD In fact, I would take advantage of blogs like this or the mary sue, they already are doing that consultant job for free wich in my line of work would be unthinkable. XD

        2. Also, sorry for my long windedness (is that a word?) But I think this move has some blatant sexism im not defending hollywood here, first and foremost is the wasp should have had her own movie before antman since the unforgivable sin of keeping her out of the avengers. Second is hope is the ONLY strong female in the whole movie and she is often stereotypically argumentative and has to have antman explain to her why she should be on board, the real wasp character I think would have been mature enough to understand the situation. But this might be because her father kept the truth of her mothers death a secret so she didnt have all the facts. I did not fully understand why he did not tell her the truth maybe it shows the characters sexist ideology ie old people think women are not as capable of handling the truth because they are too emotional. But this I think is a stereotype of old people not being foreward thinking. But I remain optimistic that they will do right in future. I “hope” im not dissapointed haha.

      2. I would love to see a heroes for hire movie with iron fist, misty, luke cage, all of them with moondragon and dr strange and spider woman making cameos but it will never be im sure. I dont really like most marvel movies but I appreciate they try. I didnt like xmen that much or the sequels though I did like some of the minor characters. I think marvel does better when it comes to character building but iron man is just a rich guy in a suit saving brown skin folks like me, like what is it with white people wanting to save and protect “minorities”, though he is funny at times. Spiderman movies are drivel. Blade was cool. I dont get the hulk never did. He is the same as any other strong guy the only interesting thing about his story is the planet hulk storyline. Captain america both films awesome second better than the first. Guardians of the galaxy I liked but it was silly at times but the most fun movie marvel has made in my opinion. I really liked hope in antman I think she stole the show. I liked paul rudd but I would rather he be hawkeye b/c hawkeye isnt funny enough not like he is in the comics. I like agents and carter alot but they arent movies. Avengers dissapointed because it was a sausage fest and just dudes smashing stuff in silly costumes, it was almost a parody of itself. Really antman was the least offensive movie I thought except that the rich guy saves the criminal and shows him the light cliche white people fantasy. I didnt like pym the character at all I would have left him out completely and just have hope bust out rudd and make him antman because she is a legit boss and couldnt risk stealing or go to jail so she teaches him how to use the suit. Then they could fall in love because they work closely together which is really why most people fall in love in real life. Then maybe antman gets hurt and hope has to wear the wasp suit to save him leading to a team up movie sequel.

        1. Heroes for hire woild be great, they have style and their dinamic would work well in a film. In fact, if they decide to do it, I think it would market itself. All the action and all. So if they don’t do it, it’s their loss, much like Black Widow movie, that already has public. And same as runaways, wich is the “modern version” of new mutants. young people would like runaways, and maybe not so young.

          Blade was cool, but the sequels falls short. That happens sometimes. As for Agent Carter and Agents of shield, while I really liked them, I don’t think they could work as a film. Mainly because the plot takes time to unfold and two hours won’t do to tell that story. For me it’s better the way it is and I get more chapters XDD

          As for avengers… work as an action movie, but for the real avengers to work, see character dinamics and growth, you’ll need a TV show and lots of chapters. BW and the Hulk romance was rushed, so it felt odd. Maybe with more development and time, would have been more belieable. Or maybe not, we’ll never know. XDD Point is, avengers has several characters and plots that developed in time. It’s difficult to make a movie that do that well. It’s the same comparison with short story, novel or series of novels. If the plot and characters are too complex, you can’t do it right in a film. Need more time.

          The problem with many superheores is golden and silver age. They were created in a time that -ism were normal. So you have all that stereotipes. Red Richards hits Susan because she brings him coockies to his lab and allways ignore her and treat her as if she were stupid. Never crossed Susan mind to divorce. Why? Because that was normal in the fifties. Same with most characters being white, heterosexual, etc. Now marvel are trying to change that, but there’s so many changes that needs to be done, that it’s difficult. And each change bring a loud group of WASP that complain that they are taking comics from them, destroying comics. And the editors are afraid that in making the WASP upset would hurt sales, so even if they are a minority and they would lose more by not making that changes, they go too slow. Also, many of them are WASP, so there’s things that didn’t even cross their mind.

          To that situation we can only writte our own stuff, support what we like (and only what we like) and recomend the new things we like. I mean, many new creators are fairly unknown, and even if they are doing a really good work, people don’t give it a try because they don’t know it exist. So if I read something that I like and know some friends would like, I told them. To be honest, I think you could promote the heores for hire you spoke about. Maybe a short fake trailer in youtube or something. That’s what someone did with Wonder Woman and it put DC to same because that fake-trailer was great. If you have the resources and the will, I bet you could do something as good. ^_^

  2. One of the biggest thing that got to me about sidelining Hope was that it didn’t even make sense in the story. She was clearly shown to be more capable than Ant-Man in every skill that was needed for the mission. But with the fate of the Earth at risk, her father would rather recruit an ex-con who is a complete stranger and try to train him up in a few days? Not only are women kept strictly to the woman-specific roles, the writers are willing to sacrifice the coherence of the story in order to make sure women play a smaller part. Besides all the usual sexism, it was pretty fun, though I think I’m less of a fan of the more humorous Marvel movies.

    1. Did you watch the film? It explained why… several times in very declarative ways. He made his wifes suit, she had to sacrifice herself to save everyone. He KNEW his daughter was more capable and brave than antman which is why he knew she would have done the same thing her mother did if she was put in the same situation. He didnt want her to DIE so he forbid her to wear it and found someone expendable. He forbidding her and her listening probably had more to do with him being her PARENT not her patriarchal oppressor. Just guessing I cant say for sure. Also if you read the comics, which you dont or you would know antman is a MALE character. And she was being heralded as the wasp for the next movie OR her own movie hopefully.

      1. In-universe reasons are not adequate defence against meta-criticism. They can justify it all they like within the story, but the story could have been completely different if they’d *wanted* to represent women. This is the classic “woman is competent but here comes the Special Chosen Man who will soon surpass her as long as she trains him and then falls for him.

        And these are adaptations, they do not keep everything 100% the same, as pointed out above (Hank Pym was abusive, created Ultron, etc. etc. in the comics but I GUESS YOU DIDN’T READ THEM OR YOU’D KNOW HUH)

        1. Lol, did you see how they brought that dude in to make that lady seem incompetant? Classic! You caught me. I am one of those guys who only pretend to read comic books because he wants the adoration and respect that comes with it. Why do women love a grown man who reads comic books so much? I have to beat them off with a stick!

  3. I haven’t seen the movie, but Marvel cinematic universe is hardly known for its diversity of interesring and complex female characters. They are there, but they allways play the second fiddle, despite SO many Marvel movies by now.
    And the superhero world in general, is of course VERY male dominated. On the other hand there are far more female superheroes and antiheroes and villans in the comics than in the movies. Somehow Marvel don’t believe in them on the big screen, giving the Avengers just one female member and not giving even her a movie if her own.

  4. I guess the fact Hope is cool is because the audience wants a girl who is worthy of them (since you stopped watching game of thrones you missed the vomit worthy dialogue between St Tyrion and Deadpan Stormborn), but certainly doesn’t challenge them.

  5. Hey! Interesting thoughts as always. I would love to hear your comments on two action movies that were praised for their female characters: Mad Max and Mission Impossible. How did you feel about them?

    1. Thanks! I haven’t seen either of them yet, actually, but I will definitely be writing about Mad Max once I get the chance to see it. :)

  6. Its weird too they hired mostly men since hiring more women would have saved them 12% of their overhead. On the other hand I am a male who grew up reading comics and was always dissappointed there was never a black widow or storm self titled comic. I always loved cloak and dagger and I read those like crazy. It wasnt until I was about 15 I realized it was because these characters were female is why they had no s/t. And the reason is that women just dont buy comics. What about wonder woman, right? She sold tons so women must be Interested in comics. Nope, turns out that title was barely treading water and if not for the tenacity of male publishers she would have lost her s/t years ago. (She did eventually but it came back thanks to another man, because for some reason comic book publishers felt it was important that women have role models and heroes to look up to even when most girls gave two shits)
    Maybe the problem is comics were a boys club designed to keep women out. Not likely since marvel and dc actively sought female talent in the late 80s and found women just werent applying. Seems women dont want to buy or write or draw comics. Thanks to that we had the 90s filled with frat boy artists like mcfarlame and rob liefield who drew women like they were made from 100% silicone to sell books to horny 13 yr olds exclusively. Heres my point, if you want to change comics and the characters you have to support the medium. The 70s and 80s had strong female characters because underground comics were written by strong liberal men and women, the day women (and a lot of men too) turned their back and decided to ostracize comic book readers as nerds and losers was the day it was destined to be hijacked by the lowest common denominator. And now complaining that characters written by men for men in a medium supported almost exclusively by men should change to accomadate your sensabilities is about like asking ice cube to change his lyrics because he makes cops feel bad. I would love it if dagger and storm and kitty pryde and dazzler had their own movies, I love these characters as much as I love batman or wolverine, but I cant buy a million movie tickets or comic books so why complain? I am happy the tide seems to be turning with more women than ever supporting comics but its clear you all do not love the medium. If you did you would realize that marvel added these female characters NOT because they “had too”, ant man didnt need to have a daughter OR a wife or any women in his life for the plot of this movie to pan out. They didnt even need to do it to make money since they know who their target audience is. If they cared just about the bottom line they could have made all the women strippers and hired the cast of the jersey shore. They were trying to include and invite women into this world that, be honest, you knew or cared little about. Marvel is trying to make movies the FANS will love (and they are doing extremely well i think with a few glitches here and there) So why should ice cube have to change his lyrics to make people who dont buy his albums or listen to his music feel more included?

  7. Agents of SHIELD (and perhaps Agent Carter but I haven’t started this one) seems to be the only Marvel production that has some really good female characters. But I’m often not conscious enough on feminist perspective. I would really like a review on it. Any plans as for now?

    1. I dont think agent carter realistically deals with the plight of professional women at that time but if it did it would be deemed “offensive”, ironically, and probably taken off the air. But its a fun show. They should do a crossover with madmen and have carter rule the era!

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