Superheroes and Sexism

So, with all of these superhero movies busting out lately, you just knew I’d have to say something about them, right?

If so, congratulations!

You are psychic.

Unfortunately, I stopped being psychic a few years back, so if you can throw any good-future-inspiration at me, just make sure it doesn’t damage my face on impact. 😉

I love superhero movies, books, and stories in general. I think making something with such enormous symbolism and hope is a great idea.

It’s something we need, crave even.

Something I cannot stand?

Can you name one of those movies which is about a female superhero? Yeah, me neither.

Can you name one female superhero that is just as popular as a male superhero? One which doesn’t, if you look closely at everything that happens, end up needing the help of a male (whereas, the males of this genre never need help from a woman every time they turn around)? Again, I can’t name one either.

Now I don’t know if I’m just oblivious and if there’s an entire franchise of popular heroines out there that I’ve missed, but none of the really cool heroes happen to be heroines from what I can see.

Why?

I don’t know. They haven’t given the women as awesome roles. They’ve downplayed them. The women always need help. They’re always weaker than their male counterparts. Their emotions always get in the way.

Have I mentioned I’d like to hit someone right now?

So, hey – Marvel,  DC Comics and all you movie making people – how about you make a female heroine that can play ball in the same realm as all the popular males of this genre?

*(Yes, I am being bateful because I’m pissed off and highly offended.  No, I don’t actually think anyone from Marvel, DC comics or movie making groups will actually read this. But it made me feel better. 😉 )

I don’t know what you think, but women can get downright nasty. So if women can be just as brutal, why are there no large female symbols? And why no movies about them?

I don’t mean to get all crazy about it or anything. But I’m tired of discovering that so many people harping on sexism are right. The more I pay attention, the more I realize that movies cater almost exclusively to men. Anyway, mini rant over.

Ignoring the sexism, I really like some of these movies.

What are your favorite superhero movies as of late? Did I miss any you liked?

What do you think about the lack of women in superhero culture?

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “Superheroes and Sexism

  1. Pingback: Marvel Odin vs Norse Mythology Odin and Is Thor Feminist? | DaphneShadows

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  3. Fairley

    I LOVE superhero films. I’ve grown up with them for so long, and I just can’t get enough of them. Their powers, the message of hope that they send that you mentioned…it just makes for an entertaining popcorn flick 🙂 My favorites are definitely the first two Spider-Man films (the third one’s okay), The Amazing Spider-Man, Iron Man 1, The Avengers, X-Men 1 and 2, and X-Men: First Class.

    With that being said, you are spot on with the sexism. I’ve noticed it in a lot of movies, but I tend to watch superhero films the most, so it irritates me more that my favorite films have little to no female characters in it. And have you noticed how sexualized they are? Until The Winter Solider (and mostly in The Avengers), Black Widow’s character had several shots zooming up to her breast and butt and skin-tight suit. I was thirteen at the time of seeing it and didn’t know too much about sexism, but all I could think was “Really? Is this absolutely necessary?”

    They’ve gotten better over the years, with Black Widow (the non-sexualized version of her) in The Avengers and Winter Soldier, as well as making the love interest less of the damsel-in-distress types (Pepper in Iron Man, Peggy/Shanon in Captain America and Winter Soldier, Jane in Thor 1 and kind of The Dark World). But they’re still just love interest. And Jane spent most of the time playing damsel-in-distress in The Dark World 😛

    And Brian is so right about the racism. That’s a whole other balls of wax (is that how you use the expression? lol). The Winter Soilder had the most black people I’ve ever seen in a superhero film, and there were only two of them! Plus, there’s absolutely no superhero film that I know of where the main character is black, aside from Blade (I never saw the films). Okay, let me rephrase that–no film with a minority in the lead that is as popular as the ones with the Caucasian leads.

    And I don’t know why anyone would get up in arms with you when you talk about racism because you’re white. That’s like someone saying a guy can’t be feminist because he’s not a woman. Go tell that to Joss Whedon! 😉

    Okay, I’m done with my incredibly long rant now 😛 lol. Nice post, you made some very nice points here. I always love it when I find someone who sees eye-to-eye with me 🙂

    • Wow. It’s so cool to see that someone agrees.

      Funny thing is, I did a post on The Dark World last week and I mentioned how Jane is practically useless the whole time.
      I CANNOT stand the whole, damsel in distress thing. I always wanted a strong female hero, even before I knew what sexism was. Not that I want all female casts or whatever, but I’d like the equality, you know? If you walk in a room, there’s practically a 50/50 split where gender is concerned.

      And yeah, white people are practically the minority now, so come on, get realistic. Everyone shouldn’t be white.
      It’s nice to hear that someone else thinks its odd that people put me down for being white and against racism at the same time.

      Rants don’t bother me. I love to know what people are thinking! Thanks for uber answering. 😀

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  6. Great post, lady! I’ve never been much into superheroes, but I imagine I would if there were strong, beautiful-on-the-inside and realistic looking female ones. 🙂

    Have you read Emmie Mears’ blog? She has a great additional site dedicated to this topic. Thanks for this post!

    • Thank you! 🙂 I’ve never heard of her blog before, I’m glad you told me about it.

      Have you ever heard of Witchblade? They did a tv show a long time ago but it was crap. I wish they’d do a movie on her. She was the reason I got into comic books – before I even realized that I happened to like one of the only dark, strong female heroes there was in comics. 😉

  7. Chris

    I want to make an awesome Wonderwoman origin movie!! All these movies mostly suck, I’m really critical of movies though especially super hero movies :p I love comics, so I keep to them.

    • Yeah, I’m pretty picky too. I was surprised I liked most of the ones I did. Its mostly because I also like the symbolism of the characters. I’m weird like that. 😉
      All of my comics are in storage. :/ I haven’t read one in forever. I really should get them out.

  8. I don’t think it’s necessarily a movie issue, but, rather, a general issue spanning comics as well. If we take a closer look at comics, there are relatively few female leads in comparison to the ratio to male leads. Other than Wonder Woman, and maybe Ms. Marvel, there simply aren’t many uber popular female heroes. Many of them are members of a team or have more of a supporting role in traditional superhero comics. Not that I’m sticking up for the film industry, but, unfortunately, there really isn’t much to go on material wise as far as centering a movie around a female lead. While comic book culture has in recent years started changing, it’s been a slow moving one. Women heroes are stepping into the spotlight more often, but I believe we still have a ways to go yet. Comics like Harley Quinn and Red Sonja have recently helped shine a light on female leads. I believe the popular choice for a female led superhero movie would probably be Wonder Woman, yet studio executives can’t seem to get anything starring her off the ground.

    Scarlett Johansson, the actress who plays Black Widow, is calling out studio executives to make a film starring her character. After seeing Black Widow get a good amount of screen time in the second Captain America film, I think it could work. I enjoyed my time with her character and would definitely like to explore more of what makes her tick in a future film. In my opinion, Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers) should have been the top choice for either a female led Marvel solo film, or the first female Avenger. Jessica Drew, a.k.a. Spider-Woman, has a rich history in comics too. I wouldn’t mind seeing a film starring either one of them. Hopefully we get one soon because, like you, I WANT to see women in the spotlight kicking ass and being as smart about it as their male counterparts.

    There are a few female led superhero movies. Recently, there was Elektra (2005), starring Jennifer Garner. It wasn’t very good and I think that’s why so many people overlook it. You could even throw Tank Girl (1995) and Red Sonja (1985) into this category too. It’s not that these films don’t exist, it’s just that, for some reason, they aren’t as good as their comic book counterparts.

    Don’t even get me started about diversity in these films either! More heroes of color too please! Good post, and an issue that should be talked about more often.

    • You know, the funny thing is, I didn’t even realize there weren’t any big, popular heroine movies or comics until I started looking for pictures for a blog post and realized DUH, they’re all men.
      And then if I think back to my childhood and early teen years, I got into comics because of Witchblade – which is about a dark, strong female. I don’t remember much about her now other than that she was strong and multiple men were always trying to control her but failing. Funny that I’d gravitate toward one of the only female comics without realizing it. I wasn’t much on the lighter ones. Even then I liked the darker characters and atmospheres. 😉

      I didn’t know Scarlett Johansson was doing that. That would be awesome. I do remember reading an article about how she hopes to find more women in these roles because of their strength and not their body.

      Elektra didn’t seem like a super hero movie to me. It was just ‘eh’.

      Yeah, racism in media is stupid too. I think racism in general is just as messed up as sexism, but because I’m white people treat me like scum when I get upset over racism. Which makes no sense to me.

  9. Looking forward to reading these! I think it’s really telling that we’ve had, what, six Superman films and seven Batmans and yet Wonder Woman can’t even get a TV show, and is only now showing up in a movie – for the first time – as a supporting character to BOTH Superman and Batman, after whom the film will be named. Also the fact that the vast majority of our best-known superheroines are supporting characters or team members rather than leads of their own stories is all the evidence anyone should need to see that there is most definitely a sexist trend in superhero culture.

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