As superhero films consume a greater and greater slice of the Hollywood pie, the lack of diversity in said superhero films becomes increasingly obvious. On top of the lack of racial diversity in these films, the number of female superheroes is staggeringly low. So far, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we have one; Black Widow (and perhaps Agent Carter). With Scarlet Witch making her way into Avengers: Age Of Ultron–along with a previously unannounced character–we’ll have another coming soon, but as far standalone films, all Marvel has is Captain Marvel, but even that’s a good three years away.
DC seems a bit closer, with their Wonder Woman film coming out in two years, but that’s not much better. With 6-8 superhero films coming out each year, is it wrong that only two of the forty some-odd flicks in the next six years have women in the leading role? Director Joss Whedon thinks so.
“It’s a phenomenon in the industry that we call ‘stupid people.’ There is genuine, recalcitrant, intractable sexism, and old-fashioned quiet misogyny that goes on.”
“You hear ‘Oh, [female superheroes] don’t work because of these two bad ones that were made eight years ago,’ there’s always an excuse.”
This continuing trend is quite surprising, considering the incredible success of films like The Hunger Games–a series which has gone on to be the highest grossing for the past two years in a row. Whedon went on in the interview to praise the film, and how it’s not too incredibly different from superhero films.
“Hunger Games is a different structure and aesthetic to a certain extent, but these narratives where people are bigger than life and they’re in these terrible, heightened circumstances, it’s all part of the same genre.”
“Marvel is in a position of making a statement simply by making [a female-led] movie, which I think would be a good thing to do. But it has to be a good movie, it has to be a good character, and most of the best characters in Marvel are owned by Fox, let’s face it!”
An interesting perspective from a man who’s deep within the Marvel machine. No doubt, there are a good number of X-Men characters Whedon would love to tackle on screen (having already done so in the comic Astonishing X-Men) as there are a number of great female superheroes in its mythology that could be used.
With The Hunger Games as proof that women are appreciated by audiences when they are well represented on screen, studios seem to be leaving a lot of money on the table by not developing more female lead characters.
What do you think? Is Joss Whedon right? Is it about time women receive their due in the superhero world? Let us know in the comments below.