Women in 'Avengers' have been underrated for too long... 'Captain Marvel' is going to change all that
First of all, there are far too fewer women superheroes in comparison to their male counterparts. Off the top of your head, how many can you think of?
Until a few years ago, women in superhero films were just sidekicks - someone that made the hero look good, increase frame by frame sex appeal and just sit there and look pretty. But as years rolled by, there came along female superheroes on the silver screen too. Unfortunately, though they have been finally been given a space on the movie screen as strong characters, they are still underrated. With just a week left for Marvel's 'Avengers: Infinity War' to roll onto your screens and into your excited brains as you gorge on cheesy overpriced popcorn, it is worth mentioning that the cinematic universe of 'Avengers' may have slightly forgotten to shine more focus on its very badass female characters.
First of all, there are far too few women superheroes in comparison to their male counterparts. Off the top of your head, how many can you think of? When it comes to Avengers, there are five - Black Widow, Wanda Maximoff, Gamora, Okoye, and Shuri portrayed on screen by Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Zoe Saldana, Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright respectively. There are 16 superheroes in the film - Ironman, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Loki, Bucky, Sam Willson, Peter Quill, Vision, Black Panther, Spiderman, Thanos, War Machine, Dr. Strange and The Hulk. This number in itself is more than three times the number of female superheroes.
Moreover, have you ever seen any of them come out and save and the day and be given due credit for it? None of the films in the series has ever woven them into the storyline as the main focus even for just a minute. Take Black Widow for example, every time we get a peek into the mysterious super secret agent Natasha Romanov in Avengers, she's either trying to calm down Hulk or she's jumped into the scene from somewhere and is trying to protect one of the boys. Not to mention, the first thing you notice about her is that she's a pretty redhead. Honestly, is it possible, for her to exist without being Hulk's babysitter or give us an insight into things she feels without it being romantic?
Honestly, Black Widow is one of the most fantastic characters in the film, not just as a female but as a superhero, but sadly, she hasn't got the film she so rightfully deserves. You may think that she looks great as a sidekick, yes, but it is about time her story gets told.
She is perhaps the smartest one in the group too. If you look at 'Captain America: Civil War', when the United Nations decide to step into their little gang and control their involvement in dire situations after they've caused a lot of civilian deaths, Tony Stark agrees with them to sign the Sokovia Accords, which would show their agreement. Romanov sides with Tony even though she's known to be much closer to Captain. She knows that her job is important and does what needs to be done to protect innocent lives. Later, she does support Cap to save Bucky, proving that she's the most level-headed of the lot - not once does she whine about her job but does what is right but at the same time is loyal to her team and her friends. She fights like a boss, speaks multiple languages, can get the job done in any kind of terrain and she does it in killer heels.
In 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' she's captured by Ultron for really no reason at all only to be made to look like a damsel in distress as Bruce Banner gets her out. The Avengers do it without much hardship and there aren't any tough choices made to get her back - she was there just to make Bruce look like a hero. While this role could have been anyone's, it was hers, as the general trend goes - women cannot rescue themselves.
There's Wanda Maximoff, who was so crucial in the last Avenger's film. She goes by the name Scarlet Witch and her powers are so intense that they scare the daylight out of all the others. In 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' during the last fight, she is portrayed to be a scared person in need of a push because of her uncertainty - when her powers have been said to be very strong and she goes to play a massive part in the final battle. There's no logical reason for her to be shown that way, except for her to fit the traditional role of a woman in the gang - either a romantic or a damsel in distress.
At the same time, her brother has a story that shows him as the man he is - someone who sacrifices himself to save Hawkeye and another young boy. Not to mention, with her massive powers (she is able to hold off Ultron while the gang does their bit), she's always treated like a child who needs to be kept a watch on.
These female characters are portrayed as secondary in every plot, even though they deserve more space in the story. Until DC's Wonder Woman, there was this whole notion that female-centric films don't work - they don't do well on the box office and aren't bankable. The film, the highest grossing superhero origin film ever, came smashing down on all those notions to make a massive $821.74 million and that got filmmakers thinking. The female characters in 'Avengers' could definitely hold the weight of their own movie, quite gracefully too, if I may say so. Especially, someone like 'Black Widow' - oh what a blockbuster that could potentially be!
Not to mention these women only ever seem to be waiting to follow instructions or looking for revenge, when they aren't made to be busy with singing a lullaby, made to be a "monster" because they cannot be real moms, being rescued or in love. Unlike Iron Man, who has got his own agendas and Cap with his own rules and principles, these ladies are so underrated in these films. Imagine Romanov being the boss of things, or at least, an equal.
But there is still hope.
After Marvel's announcement of 'Captain Marvel', the first big budget female superhero-centric film, one can hope that things may finally change for the 'Avengers'. While fans are pretty certain that she will make a debut in the upcoming 'Avengers: Infinity War' after they caught a sneak peek of her suit behind Captain America in the trailer, it remains to be seen if she will change the game for the series or she will be made to fall behind the vicious stereotypes that the other female characters in the franchise have faced.
Academy Award and Golden Globe Award awardee actor Brie Larson has been cast to play the role and it is exciting to think about the possibilities that this film could bring to us. Until recently, the name 'Captain Marvel' was limited to fans who followed the comics religiously as one of the characters of the Marvel universe who had her own story. Now, with it coming on the big screen next year on March 8, 2019, she will hopefully become a household name and will replicate, if not surpass, the success of 'Wonder Woman' not just as a film but also as a sign of inclusivity in the superhero universe.
'Captain Marvel', however, isn't the first female-centric film that has been made from the Marvel universe. There was a Jennifer Garner starrer 'Elektra' back in 2005, which tanked at the box office and not to mention helped strengthen the idea that females in the lead don't do well in the superhero world. The film, in reality, was badly made and the plot was much like a boiled chicken with no seasoning. Not to mention, the poster looks like one from a cheap slasher movie.
Directed by Rob Bowman and produced by 20th Century Fox, it was a spinoff from 'Daredevil', where Elektra Natchios, an assassin, has to protect a man and his daughter from another assassin. According to Rotten Tomatoes' 163 reviews, it scored a 10 %, which had nothing to do with the acting - it was all about the terrible script. The consensus says, "Jennifer Garner inhabits her role with earnest gusto, but Elektra's tone-deaf script is too self-serious and bereft of intelligent dialogue to provide engaging thrills."
On Metacritic, the film has a Metascore of 34 out of 100 based on 35 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". This film was like the 'Ghost Rider' of women-centric movies, but unlike the ones with men in leading roles, it strengthened the belief that no one wants to watch women being badass.
In the upcoming 'Captain Marvel' written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Carol Danvers plays an ex-Air Force officer, who gets her superpowers as a result of an explosion while operating a Kree device. She is super strong, can emit photon energy blasts, has super swift flight, and massive durability. The origins of the device go back to 'Guardians of the Galaxy' where the villain was a Kree - Ronan the Accuser.
The film is expected to be packed with action and adventures, of course, but will also explore the character as a leader. Before DeConnick came onboard with the series in 2012, she was a skimpily clad persona (barely there leotard with a thin ribbon) who went by the name of Miss Marvel. She scrapped that image forever (thank goodness) and tapped more into her Air Force roots. She was written as the space captain that fought with the Avengers and is a leader in space.
Here's praying that the film is made well and not just a half-assed job as 'Elektra' because it could very well change the way women are portrayed in this cinematic universe. Maybe 'Carol Corps' could transition into a bigger feminist movement instead of being just constricted to comic book lovers? Hell, yes!