Avengers: Age of Ultron is not a feminist film. Well goddamn, what a surprise! (Spoilers all over the place)

Posted: May 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 7 years you probably know what the MCU is. The MCU (or Marvel Cinematic Universe) is one of the biggest franchises ever to exist in cinema, raking in billions of dollars over the course of 11 films.

The thing with the MCU is that, owing to its success at the box office, it’s now under almost impossible amounts of pressure to be ‘progressive’ and ‘forward thinking’, especially with Joss Whedon helming what is essentially the ‘poster-boy’ of the series, The Avengers.

When it comes to comics and superheroes, the representations of female characters has always been something of a sore spot. From the ‘women in refrigerator’ trope (coined during The Killing Joke I believe) to the costumes worn to the fact that Hank Pym, noted hero and original Avenger, once hit his wife (a storyline that resulted in his being ejected from the Avengers and his career being tarnished, something that seems to get glossed over) females in comics have been under a lot of scrutiny in the last 20 or so years.

It’s the same with the films, the lack of ‘strong, female heroes’ seems to be a constant point of whinging from certain sectors of society. Now that superhero films have hit the big time it’s imperative, apparently, that there be a level of parity between male and female superheroes. This despite the fact that when I was a kid some of the worst comments I got for being a comic nerd came from girls who just couldn’t understand why I liked them. Now, those same girls are commenting on Facebook saying how much they loved the new Iron Man film. Not that I’m bitter, more money means more films, it’s just sometimes it gets a bit galling when I get told I’m somehow furthering sexism and the marginalisation of girls by buying ‘testosterone-filled’ adventures that feature solely male heroes when, 15 years ago, I was being called a loser for buying ‘testosterone-filled’ adventures that featured solely male heroes. You’ll forgive me if my sympathy-o-meter is running on empty.

Anyway, enough hypocritical bitching from me. The newest film in the Marvel juggernaut has just been released and, having seen it at the weekend, I can say I absolutely loved it. It had a decent story, good effects, some nice character development, some brilliant acting, new characters, comedy and a decent villain.

Guess who didn’t like it? Yeah, feminists.

Last summer the film Guardians of the Galaxy was released and immediately was declared ‘not a feminist film’ for 3 (count them, 3) reasons. I can’t even remember what they were, but I did write a blog about how pathetic it was:

https://johnsalmonsworld.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/guardians-of-the-galaxy-is-not-a-feminist-film-yippee-spoiler-alert/

There are any number of films that I could write a blog about and talk about the misandry that runs through them (I did do a mini look at misandry in television at Christmas), there are so many Hallmark-type romantic films that I’ve watched over the last 2 years that contain blatant anti-male, generalised statements that, if went the other way, would lead to a film being decried as ‘not a feminist film’. There are numerous films that fail the reverse Bechdel test (if such a thing existed) but we don’t see multiple articles dedicated to tearing them apart. Why? I dunno, maybe because men aren’t constantly told to see themselves as victims.

So if Guardians wasn’t a feminist film, is Age of Ultron? In short, no, apparently. Aside from the incessant whinging about the lack of female characters it seems that the existing female characters don’t catch a break either. Or, at least, one in particular doesn’t.

Black Widow is polarising people for her depiction in Age of Ultron. There are two articles in particular I want to look at. One reason is because they are simply wrong about some things they put forward, secondly because it points to a wider problem when it comes to superhero films – that these articles are so focused on the poor portrayal of female characters that they completely fail to focus on the actual positives of those female characters and similarly poor portrayals of male characters. Why? Because there are already numerous male characters in the franchise so some of them being one-dimensional or badly written is of no consequence. Or something, I don’t actually know.

Anyway, the first article:

http://nypost.com/2015/05/04/why-everyone-hates-the-new-domesticated-black-widow/

Domesticated? That’s a rather large claim, and there are two sections in particular that over-exaggerate this claim in order to fit a pre-determined narrative? I should probably make it clear, if I haven’t already, that this will contain spoilers.

As an aside we get this, which just goes to show the power of interpretation and why interpretation alone is not enough to definitely label something as sexist:

‘Yet in “Age of Ultron,” her character is given some unfortunate archetypal female character traits. For one, at the Avengers mission “wrap party” early in the film, Widow looks to be the only Avenger working the bash, pouring drinks from behind a bar while she bats her eyes in flirtation. Later, she grabs Captain America’s shield off the street and quips, “I’m always picking up after you boys.” (Add on top of that these unfortunate sexist comments made by two of the film’s male stars during a press interview.)’

I’m pretty sure Widow herself makes a comment that explains why she appears to be working (I can’t remember what it is, I’ve only seen it once) but it seems she’s choosing to be behind the bar, not being forced to ‘work’. As for the ‘always picking up after you boys’ comment, to me that always seemed a bit sexist towards men, as in ‘men are such dirty, irresponsible man-babies who can’t take care of anything’. That interpretation came from the fact Widow says that line as she picks up Cap’s shield from the street after he loses it, reinforcing the idea that men are pretty useless without a woman. Quite apart from Black Widow being domesticated, it suggests that Captain America himself can’t function without a woman by his side. Yet, of course, that line is only interpreted as sexist towards women, implying that they always do the tidying.

The thing is, both interpretations have credence but only one is being used as evidence of the regression of a superhero’s character.

As for the ‘unfortunate comments’, I haven’t clicked the link but I bet it’s the video of Jeremy Renner calling Widow a slut. Got to admit it’s pretty accurate; first Hawkeye, then Captain America and now Hulk. Of course, Tony Stark’s womanising is sexist to women, Scarlet Widow’s maninising (is that even a word? OMG that’s so sexist) is sexist to women. See how that works?

So, to the two main complaints with this article. The first of which is simply an outright lie:

‘Over at Entertainment Weekly in a piece titled “The Black Widow Conundrum,” Darren Franich argues that Johansson embodies the “most popular female superhero of the decade,” but still Marvel doesn’t seem to know what to do with her. In fact, the revelations of her sterilization and that she longs for a stable life (with Bruce Banner aka the Hulk, who, like all the male characters, has no such domestic longings) make her downright boring.’

So, in the film it’s revealed that part of her ‘training’ to become a super spy included a sterilisation process that ensured none of the assassins could have children, thereby solidifying their effectiveness. Of course, this comes out during a tender moment with Bruce Banner as he reveals, fairly obviously, that he can’t have kids either.

This seems to be a point of contention, the fact that she feels upset, that she falls into ‘a whole descent of sadness’ after revealing she can’t have children.

Firstly, why is it such a bad thing that she longs to have children? Are female superheroes now suddenly not supposed to want to have children? Are female superheroes now supposed to be nothing more than emotionless killers? Sure, Black Widow is supposed to be an assassin but she has not been an emotionless killer up to this point. She has showed humanity, she’s showed compassion and kindness, particularly to Hawkeye in Avengers Assemble and Captain America in The Winter Soldier. She is human, she has emotions that have clearly been expressed before, so why is it now such a huge problem that those emotions are revealed as sadness at her inability to have children? She doesn’t pine after them, she doesn’t leave the team because she can’t have kids, and she doesn’t say ‘I WANT BABIES NOOOOOOOOOOW!’ No, not at all, she simply expresses sadness that, at some point in her future, she will not be able to create a family. Who does she tell this too? Bruce Banner, another hero who reveals he is unable to have children (presumably due to his Hulk sperm being as big as Widow herself).

I don’t understand why maternal feelings in female characters are such a no-no. I thought the scene was brilliant and, to be completely honest, made me like the character more, a character that, up to that point, I’d actually found a bit dull.

But let’s look at the outright lie told in this paragraph:

‘In fact, the revelations of her sterilization and that she longs for a stable life (with Bruce Banner aka the Hulk, who, like all the male characters, has no such domestic longings) make her downright boring.’

Quite the contrary for me, I found this scene to make her more interesting, to make her seem more human. But the real problem comes with the ridiculously untrue comment about the male characters. First of all, she’s talking to Bruce about wanting a stable life and he’s right there agreeing with her. Not only that, at the end of the film he remains alone on an Avengers Quinjet, turns off the comms system and allows himself to be isolated from the rest of the team. Why? Presumably because he knows he can’t have a life with Natasha due to who he is.

Then we have Hawkeye, a guy who quits the team to go home and be with his family! Seriously, is that not longing enough for a domestic life? Like, the fact is that he spends pretty much the entire film trying to decide if he wants to be part of the team or if he wants to be at home with his family. If that’s not longing for domestic bliss I don’t know what is.

Or how about Tony Stark, who destroys all his Iron Man suits at the end of Iron Man 3. For what reason? So he can lead a somewhat normal life with Pepper.

Or what about Drax, whose entire mission in Guardians of the Galaxy is to seek revenge for the man who killed his wife and daughter. Is that not enough?

This is why I pay little attention to these types of articles, sometimes they get so caught up in their desire to force their views on others, so desperate to paint certain characters as victims that they actually just make shit up or, at the very least, don’t really understand what’s happening to other characters. They do contain valid points, Black Widow is the only major female superhero on screen at the moment. But the constant attempts to show how badly she’s treated, how much she’s shown as a stereotype while not only ignoring similar traits in men but outright lying about them means that those genuine concerns get lost in a mire of mistruths and unnecessary victimhood.

So, moving on from that article to another, an open letter from a ‘disappointed’ feminist to Joss Whedon about the treatment of Black Widow during AOU:

http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/an-open-letter-to-joss-whedon-after-watching-age-of-ultron-from-a-disappointed-feminist-fan-20150430

Again, I’m not going to go through the whole thing, mostly because the first paragraph refers to previous Whedon works that I’ve never heard of (I’m not a huge Whedon fan, Buffy and Angel being about the only things I knew of him before Avengers. Aside from his feminist boot-licking, of course).

So, the author (Sara Stewart) in her attempts to chastise Whedon for his misogyny actually resorts to misandry:

‘So, um, we need to talk about “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” I had my doubts when I saw one bombastic, testosterone-soaked trailer after another make its way around the internet, but I tempered my reaction with a soothing refrain of, “But it’s Joss Whedon.’

Ha, the implication here being that trailers featuring lots of action, lots of male characters and, ultimately, lots of destruction somehow are a bad thing because they are ‘testosterone-soaked’. Quite apart from the fact she’s ignoring both Black Widow and Scarlet Witch’s appearances in those trailers, she’s also implying that these men saving the world somehow lessens the quality of the film or reduces their appeal. How sexist is that? I mean, not only does she make the sly implication that a film featuring men saving the world to be bad due to, presumably, its lack of women, she then suggests that Whedon, the ‘champion of women’, can somehow make it better. Presumably by introducing the women to put those nasty boys in their place.

Then she really gets ridiculous:

‘They’re just not showing the smart parts. That’s not what trailers are about.”

Again, the implication here being that there’s no way these action scenes could be smart, that there’s no planning gone into what actually happens during these scenes. No, men just turn up and wreck shit, all they do is wave their wangs about and destroy stuff while probably raping a few women and giving each other high-fives as they do it, that’s all men are good for. All those testosterone-soaked trailers featuring those nasty, brutish men aren’t showing us the real stars of the film – the smart women. Come on, Whedon, get your head out of your arse.

Of course, at this point you could be screaming at your computer screen telling me to stop being such a muppet. You’re probably right, but that’s the point. A ‘testosterone-soaked’ trailer for an action film should be shocking no-one. You can’t complain that the women are treated poorly when they are involved in the very trailers you’re decrying.

She then goes on to talk some more about the barrier-breaking character of Black Widow, which is cool. But then the objection to maternal instincts rears its ugly head again:

‘But I would like to add, did we really need Natasha to have a mini-breakdown over the fact that she can’t have children? Haven’t we gotten to a point where the one lonely female superhero in our current landscape can just pursue the business of avenging without having to bemoan not being a mother?’

Again, I get that you didn’t like the scene, I get that, to you, it was nothing more than a regressive step into 1950s stereotypes. But, listen to this, I loved that scene. It humanised both Romanov and Banner in ways we hadn’t seen before, ways not seen since the cave scene in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. I liked it simply because it showed a desire, for both characters, to have something to live for after being a superhero. The tragedy of the scene is that both characters, one male and one female, had that choice taken away from them. Widow was sterilised to make her an effective killing machine, Banner was, presumably sterilised, when he was battered with gamma radiation. I thought it was beautiful and poignant. Is the problem the fact she shows motherly desires or the fact she’s the only female superhero? Would you be complaining if Spider-woman or Captain Marvel or Wasp were part of this film?

When did women having maternal instincts become such a bad thing? Yeah, sure she’s the only major female superhero appearing on film, but did she say she wanted kids right there and then? Did she say she was going to quit the team to become a mother? No, she’s lamenting the fact that at some point in her life she has to face the very real reality that she can’t have children. Why is that such a monstrous thing?

Then she introduces a quote from Caitlin Moran, a feminist who I’m no fan of, simply because her view of feminism is far too black and white. It’s not a bad quote, I suppose, but the utter ignorance that follows is cringe worthy:

Caitlin Moran, help me out here: 

“I have a rule of thumb that allows me to judge, when time is pressing and one needs to make a snap judgment, whether or not some sexist bullshit is afoot. Obviously, it’s not 100% infallible but by and large it definitely points you in the right direction and it’s asking this question; are the men doing it? Are the men worrying about this as well? Is this taking up the men’s time?”

Male superheroes generally don’t have kids, which makes sense; it’d get in the way of their superheroing. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) does make reference to not being able to have kids, too, but it’s in more of a “well, obviously” way. Couldn’t it just be the same for women? For this rather busy woman, anyway?’

Ok, the main point here is that, according to Moran, men and women have to be exactly, 100%, unequivocally the same. There can’t be any differences between them, there can’t be anything that they disagree on, there can’t be any split focuses. Simply put, if men and women aren’t worrying about the exact same thing then it’s sexist towards women.That’s the kind of black-and-white feminism that Moran sees. If Widow is worrying about children then Hawkeye needs to be too, as does Stark and Rogers and Barton and Fury and Thor. See how daft that sounds?

But that’s one just one part, that’s a quote that, as Moran herself has to admit, is not 100% infallible (but the fact it’s even bought up here is quite ridiculous). The paragraph that follows is just so utterly redundant it’s laughable and suggests that Stewart actually doesn’t know comic books at all, rather being selective in her outrage and not letting her ignorance get in the way of her victimhood.

Male superheroes generally don’t have children? I’m going to assume she means in superhero fiction in general and not just the MCU films.

So, let’s take a look at male superheroes and their lack of children:

Cyclops – Nathan Summers (Cable).

Wolverine – Daken.

Spider-man – May Parker (only as part of the MC2 dimension but still counts). In fact, there’s been at least two instances of 616 Spider-man having kids – the end of the Clone Saga and a set of twins that, ultimately, ended up being the product of Gwen’s relationship with Norman Osbourne (despised as a storyline in the comics)

Magneto – Wanda and Pietro Maximoff (sound familiar? Yeah, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch).

Scott Lang – Cassie Lang (Hawkeye).

Azazel – Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler).

The Incredible Hulk – Skaar.

Reed Richards – Franklin and Valeria Richards.

Vision – William and Scarlet.

Charles Xavier – David Haller (Legion).

And that’s just the ones I can think of from Marvel, some of the most popular or well-known Marvel characters, too. Now, that was rather long-winded and probably a little irrelevant, but the idea that male comic book characters don’t have children because it gets in the way of their ‘superheroing’ is simply untrue. Now, if most of the characters above had been unknown second rate characters then I think there may have been a salient point but, apart from Scott Lang, whose popularity may be about to rise considering he is played by Paul Rudd in the upcoming film, they are all mainstream, A-list characters who are important to the Marvel Universe.

Fair point, ‘generally’ male superheroes don’t have children, but then, by the same token, ‘generally’ neither do female superheroes.

But that point aside, it’s not just Black Widow who’s raised the ire of our author, it’s all female characters in this film:

‘Black Widow, unfortunately, is only the tip of the iceberg. Let’s take a look at all the other female characters in “Age of Ultron.”

You got Linda Cardellini — Lindsay goddamn Weir! — in your movie, and you made her a housewife. As Hawkeye’s secret spouse (he’s kept his family in some sort of superhero protection program, apparently), she is literally pregnant and in the kitchen for most of her screen time. Sure, she dispenses some womanly words of wisdom and lets the Avengers crash in their Pottery Barn-tastic farmhouse, but seriously? That is some reductive gender shit right there. She is literally keeping the home fires burning. (How do I know this? Because there’s a lengthy scene in which two male Avengers show off their muscles chopping firewood.)’

So, she complains that the male characters don’t share the same domestic longings that appear to consume Black Widow, but then complains when she doesn’t agree with the type of domestic life that is waiting for Hawkeye? Damn, will she ever be happy?

First of all, who’s Lindsay Weir, and why should an actress’ past roles have any bearing on current or future roles? From the reaction, I’m guessing Linda Weir was some head-strong, ‘powerful’, don’t-take-shit-from-no-one type of woman in some TV show or film. That may be the case, but does that preclude Cardellini from doing an about turn and doing something different? Isn’t that what versatile actors do? Wait, is actor right, or should it be actress? I never know anymore, damn bloody feminists!

So it’s not just the lack of a possible future family that’s pissing off our author, it’s a current family about to grow by one that’ll do it as well. Reductive gender shit? Complains that male characters don’t show longing for domestic bliss, complains when male character is shown to have a loving family waiting for him, complains when said character’s wife dispenses ‘womanly words of wisdon’ that effectively allow him to go off and save the world one more time. Loving wife? No, how about oppressed victim of patriarchy or some stupid shit like that. Apparently, when male superheroes do display longing for domestic bliss it should involve a woman working like a factory horse in her own job while also taking care of the children because the man has fucked off to do something else. Wait, isn’t that kinda what feminism wants?

Oh yeah, two Avengers showing off their muscles while chopping firewood is the only thing she takes away from that little scene, not the actual conversation between the two of them. But then, she’s already pretty much admitted she has a problem with men being shown doing anything remotely ‘manly’, so that shouldn’t be a surprise.

Then:

‘And let’s talk about the support staff at the new state-of-the-art Avengers building. Cobie Smulders is on hand again as Maria Hill, a high-ranking officer in the establishment who seems to do nothing but walk around with a clipboard, wear tight black pantsuits and have the occasional chastising Skype session with our heroes (I’m not watching “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” so maybe she’s tearing it up there, but you can’t count on moviegoers to know these things). And Claudia Kim plays Dr. Helen Cho, who can apparently do brilliant things with genetics but mostly just gets mind-warped by the villainous Ultron and, later, beaten up by him.’

Did Maria Hill do anything other than walk around with a clipboard, wear tight black pantsuits and have the occasional chastising session in the first Avengers film? She’s a background character, she’s barely in this film and doesn’t really contribute to the script, much like Nick Fury, who seems to escape the ire of our author, simply because focusing on the lack of character development of more than the female characters is just not fair.

Dr Helen Cho is actually pretty damn important. Without her technology there’s no way we would have Vision in this film, so to cherry pick the instances where she’s mind controlled by Ultron (you mean, like Hawkeye was for pretty much the entire first half of the Avengers?) for about 5 minutes, and the bit where she gets beaten up by Ultron (you know, like every male hero in this film) is a little desperate.

We get some more of Stewart’s rather anti-male sentiment as well as she laments the omission of both Pepper Potts and Jane Foster. Both characters are mentioned, but neither appear. Instead, both are mentioned at the beginning party scene where Thor and Tony talk about which woman is better. She comes up with this line:

‘Seriously, you couldn’t get Gwyneth or Natalie for a couple days?’

Seriously, is that an actual question? What if the answer is simply no? Two actresses (or is it actors? Damn feminists) who are possibly busy and possibly have other projects are now somehow feeding into the misogyny of AOU by not being available for this film? Way to make a huge leap in logic there. Two female characters are missing so it must be because Whedon didn’t want them in his ‘sausage-fest’ of a movie (there she goes again implying movies featuring large male casts are somehow bad).

But she saves most of her ire for the Scarlet Witch:

‘Then there’s Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch character. Yes, she has a superpower, but it’s one that feels dreamed up by men who are terrified of women: She messes with people’s minds, dude! That’s not on you, Joss; the canon is already there, I know. No, my main beef with your treatment of Olsen is that this very talented actress gets zero quippy Whedony dialogue.’

So, what’s the huge complaint here? Was Scarlet Witch denied screen time? Was she shown to be nothing but a damsel? Was she put in some unrealistic, skimpy outfit simply to appeal to the male gaze? No, she didn’t get enough one liners. Wow, I can’t believe it, Whedon you son of a bitch, how dare you not give her any quippy dialogue?! I mean, it’s not like Scarlet Witch single-handedly took out the Avengers during the first mission, it’s not like she caused the hulk to rampage around a poor market town, it’s not like she, you know, neutralised Ultron or anything. No, forget the fact she’s the one who actually stops the villain that has been pummeling the Avengers for most of the film, it’s the lack of quippy dialogue that’s the main problem. Man, I wish I could get myself so worked up over nothing.

Oh yeah, she also has a superpower that, supposedly, is dreamed up by men terrified of women: telekinesis. Man, how sexist is that, a character that can mess with people’s minds. That kind of superpower can only be dreamed up by a man who is terrified of women. It’s not like it’s a superpower held by, you know, Charles Goddamn Xavier, one of the most powerful mutants in the entire Marvel Universe. No, being able to get in people’s heads is totally the result of sexism.

I mean, it’s not like Wanda’s superpower is responsible for one of the biggest shifts in comic history, is it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_M

No, it’s totally just because some dude is such a sexist cunt that the thought of a woman messing with his head is enough to give a female comic character that power. Does that even make sense? Movie Jean Grey has been wielding telekinesis since 2000’s X-men, was Stewart complaining then? Someone in the comments states that, actually, Wanda’s power in the comics doesn’t involve messing with people’s minds. Her ‘hex powers’ have gone through numerous changes but, generally, she can mess with people’s minds.

The remainder of the article is some blah about Scarlet Witch possibly being a shining light in a film of oppressive male superheroes using their oppressive maleness to go around fighting anything that moves or something like that.

Her ending argument is basically ‘Whedon, how can you make Scarlet Witch and Black Widow such duds after championing strong female characters for the last 8 years?!’ I must have watched a different film, I actually enjoyed Black Widow more than I did in any of her previous outings.

The thing I find most confusing about this article is the idea that ‘longing for domestic bliss’ (I’m paraphrasing) is such a moveable ideal. Black Widow’s possible desire for children and a stable life is somehow sexist because it ‘places women firmly back in the 1950s’ (again, paraphrasing), yet Hawkeye having a family of his own who, it would appear, follow a traditional family lifestyle is also sexist against women, even though a complaint of the film was that no male characters show any desire for a domestic life. As said before, Hawkeye leaves the team in order to go back to his family. Never mind the fact that, in this lifestyle, Hawkeye is literally the protector of not only his family but the entire planet, it’s the fact a woman is in the home (pregnant might I add, just one more layer of femininity that we shouldn’t see in movies) that is the really sexist thing.

Sure, I get it, Black Widow didn’t embody everything you wanted her to, she showed weakness and emotion and vulnerability and a desire to have some kind of life outside of the Avengers. The thing that bugs me is that she is not the only one. As said before, Stark, Barton and Banner have all acted in ways that suggest they also want to leave the team. Is it worse when Widow does it because she’s the only woman? Well, at the end of the film, of the 6 main Avengers, who are the only 2 still standing? That’s right, Captain America and Black Widow. So, for all the complaints about domesticity and longing for a stable life, it’s actually Banner, Barton and Stark who leave the group, not Widow. Thor also leaves, but for a different reason.

Look, I have misgivings about the comic universe at times, Obadiah Stane being killed by Stark and not committing suicide with his own repulsor still pisses me off, as do numerous other little things about the whole shared Universe (don’t get me started on tie-in TV shows) but the constant barrage of focus on female characters being mistreated often misses the very good ways they are treated. Yes, there is still a dearth of female characters in superhero films, but you have to appreciate that this is a form of media that, for nearly 100 years, has had a viewer-and-readership that’s been comprised mainly of males. To suddenly expect to be able to throw an equal amount of female superheroes into the mix is short sighted, especially when we get complaints like this over things that are, in my mind, so inconsequential.

Constantly focusing on the negatives about female characters only lets people know about the negatives of female characters. Never mind the fact that Black Widow receives a substantial amount of screen time in this ensemble, never mind the fact that Scarlet Witch is the one to neutralise the main villain (after her brother has been killed, by the way. Introduce a male character and kill him off in the same film, disposable much?), never mind the fact that a female scientist is responsible for the technology that helps create a brand new type of techno-organic superhero. No, let’s focus on the fact that a female character who was sterilised as a child now laments the fact she can’t have children. Let’s focus on the fact that one new character doesn’t have the quippy dialogue of other characters who have had that side of their personality established over numerous films. Let’s focus on a couple of missing female characters and blame their lack of inclusion on a sly implication of sexism, rather than actually trying to find out the reason.

So what do these people want? Do they want female characters to be cold, brooding, emotionless death machines who do exactly what the men do and have the exact same worries? Wouldn’t that be incredibly boring? So, Stewart uses derogatory, male-centric terms like ‘testosterone-soaked’ and ‘sausage-fest’ to get across just how much the male-centric nature of the film displeases her, but then complains that the lone female superhero displays characteristics that set her apart from her testosterone-soaked co-stars? I don’t get it.

Not only that, but she blatantly ignores male characters who do actually do what she wishes they would. Man, if these people only ever complain about how victimised they feel because of the portrayal of a character in a film then that’s all they will ever come across as and people will, eventually, just stop caring what they think. I hardly think that’s their aim.

I’ve whinged on for far too long about this. If there’s one thing to take away from this film it’s this – there are numerous instances of misogyny and misandry if you go looking for them. There are numerous instances of misogyny and misandry in pretty much everything you watch if you look hard enough. That’s the overriding thought that runs through my mind when I see articles like this – the focus is so narrowly on the negatives that any focus on positives is completely lost. All the developments made to Black Widow’s character are now suffocating under a cloud of incessant whinging. ‘Yeah, looks like she becomes co-leader of the new Avengers team at the end but OMG SHE WAS SAD SHE COULDN’T HAVE CHILDREN!!! WHEDON YOU CUNT!’ It’s so incredibly lame.

I originally started this blog because I’d heard the news that Whedon had disappeared from twitter amidst all the criticism over Black Widow. I think Whedon’s a bit of a cunt anyway so my sympathy-o-meter doesn’t really have anything for him, but I do think the backlash over one character has been so overblown it’s taken away from the fact that Age of Ultron is a stellar film.

One of the biggest films ever made is sending feminists into a sexism-induced rage? Ha, where’s the goddamn popcorn!

Excelsior!

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