With the recent release of the highly anticipated “Avengers: Infinity War,” Marvel Studios has yet again proven that it knows how to release a summer blockbuster that can be enjoyed by people of all walks of life. What we did not know is if Marvel was listening to the cries from its fans, asking for more female representation and bigger roles for the female characters.
Before some of its more recent releases in the past three years, one of the biggest criticisms pointed toward Marvel Studios was that there were no females with significant roles besides Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow.
Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, was questioned on the matter back at a press conference in 2014.
“I think it comes down to timing, which is what I’ve sort of always said, and it comes down to us being able to tell the right story,” Feige said. “However, I hope that we introduce a strong female-leading movie franchise sooner rather than later.”
While Marvel has yet to release a film with a leading female role, it has introduced us to stronger supporting characters such as Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana in “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014). We have also seen powerful characters such as Scarlet Witch, portrayed by Elizabeth Olsen in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015), the Wasp, played by Evangeline Lilly in “Ant-Man” (2015) and most recently, Shuri, one of the smartest females in Wakanda, played by Letitia Wright in “Black Panther” (2018).
“It seems as if Marvel has responded well to the fans asking for more female leading roles in their movies and that is truly a wonderful thing,” said Julie Robinson, a third year kinesiology major. “As someone who is proud to be a woman, plus a fan of the comics, I love watching females kicking ass in these movies.”
Marvel films have become more than just “superhero movies” over the past decade. These movies help give children an imagination, a feeling that they too can do anything that they put their minds to, no matter their gender.
This level of inspiration wasn’t present in Marvel’s first few movies. It was fair to say that its female characters served nothing more than a love interest or supporting role. You had Peggy Carter in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” Pepper Potts in the “Iron Man” franchise, and Jane Foster from “Thor.” While occasional moments of badassery were sprinkled throughout their respective films, these roles were only an extension of the male hero.
Again, this is something that Marvel knew it would have to change if it wanted to keep its movies profitable and relevant.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Zoe Saldana stressed how important these movies are for kids and why she is so passionate about continuing to make them. Scarlett Johansson also joked that, “It was a relief to finally have just about the same amount of estrogen as there was testosterone on the set of ‘Infinity War.’”
There have been no signs of this trend slowing down in future films, as the franchise has already announced a number of movies that will have strong female presences in them. Coming out this July will be “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” starring Evangeline Lilly as the Wasp. Brie Larson has been hired for the lead role in the upcoming movie “Captain Marvel” which premieres March of 2019, which will be Marvel’s first movie to have a female in the lead role.
Going down this road, Marvel fans old and young, male and female will have role models of all backgrounds to look up to.