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Where Are The Women Superheroes?


As I always am, I was excited for the next Marvel movie, Ant-man.  I was less than excited for the fact that the movie yet again was led by another male superhero. Marvel, along with DC Comics, have yet to release a female led superhero movie. With Marvel’s Captain Marvel set to release in 2018, and DC Comic’s Wonder Woman set to release in 2017, it seems that we still have a while to wait. When asked, “Why the lack of women superheroes?” Marvel CEO, Ike Perlmutter, stated it “wasn’t profitable”. Marvel president, Kevin Feige, tried to cover up his words by stating it “wasn’t the right time” for releasing women superheroes.

But is that really true? Other movies that have female heroines have done very well in the box office, such as The Hunger Games, made $424,668,047 in box office sales, and Disney’s Brave, made $538,983,207 in box office sales. It seems to me that audiences of all ages are intrigued by women leads in action movies from the fact that they have done this well in sales.

Now, let’s take a step back and look overall at women representation in movies. Only 12% of movies have a female lead protagonist. This means that 88% percent of movies have male lead protagonists. This does not include non-binary/trans female actors. Why is there such a drastic difference when roughly 49% of the world’s population is women? This means that there should be equal representation of women in movies, along with other minorities.

In almost all male led films, women are only there for sex objects and love interests, looked over for their intelligence and ability. Look at Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Out of the five costars, only one was a woman. Even though the female character was strong and independent, she ended up just being another love interest for the male lead of the movie. What message is this sending the audience? That even if a woman is strong and a fighter, she is a beautiful flower that needs to be won over by man? Should this be the message we are sending the masses with our constant influx of movies?

Overall the “woman love interest character” tends to be ditzy, unable to care for her own safety, and needing someone to cement her personhood.

This is not at all the true and accurate representation of women that they deserve. Imagine if in movies the roles were swapped. Use the newly released Jurassic World. What if instead of the actual movie, it was with a woman hero who knew how to deal with the dinosaurs and a science and dinosaur loving little girl? That would be sending a totally different message to the audience than the way it is with the frantic aunt character now. Girls in movies need to break down gender roles instead of upholding them! We also need movies that have better representation of women of color since 76% of women characters in movies are white. The percentage drops drastically with Black, Hispanic, and Asian women, which should not be the case.

After seeing Ant-man, I had mixed feelings. Throughout the whole movie, it is shown that the woman costar has more qualifications and knowledge than the male lead character.

This annoyed and frustrated my friend and me because we understood and related to the character’s pain as a woman. This is because too many times men get chances over women who are more qualified, solely for the fact that they are male. It is unfortunate to see this being linked to our movies. By having the woman character portrayed this way in Ant-man, was Marvel poking fun of itself for the lack of women superhero films, or society itself? Even if the creators of the movie did not mean for either of those things to be portrayed, it is still important to bring up. Luckily, there is a surprise at the end of the movie that makes the future look brighter for woman superheroes in Marvel movies. Hopefully, this moves forward not only in superhero movies, but also in all action/adventure movies, and eventually all movies.

Sign this petition to show your support for women superheroes:

Check out my video on YouTube about this topic:

Zoe Levine is 17 years old from Erie, Pennsylvania. She is currently a student in 11th grade at McDowell High School. Her main passions are intersectional feminism, writing, music, watching TV and movies, reading, and journalism. She is president of her synagogue’s youth group and president of a local volunteer organization. She is involved with her school’s performing arts program, Speech & Debate, Mock Trial, Model UN, Exposure (tolerance activity), and Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science. Outside of school she has a job at a local farmer’s market and travels for Reform Jewish conferences. You can follow her multiple social media platforms including YouTube: sunflowerzoe15, Instagram: @xzoelevine, and Twitter: @xzoelevine

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