As someone who grew up on a steady diet of Marvel comics, it’s hard not to be a fan of the Marvel series of movies. The latest entry, Ant-Man, did not disappoint. In fact, it had all the light-hearted, actiony fun of Guardians of the Galaxy. Disney would be proud.
But as someone who enjoys (and writes) kick-ass heroines in my fiction, it’s hard not to be ticked off at Marvel (and DC, and Hollywood in general) for leaving the ladies on the back burner. Sure, Black Widow, Rogue, Storm, Gamora, Scarlet Witch, et al. are definitely included, and they do kick ass, but by now it’s blatantly obvious they are in supporting-roles-only, and they don’t get their own movies.
Fans have been begging DC for a Wonder Woman movie for over a decade now. Instead Warner Bros coughed up Catwoman. And Marvel isn’t helping.
Hey Marvel, where’s Dazzler?
Hey Marvel, where’s Zatanna?
Hey Marvel, where’s She Hulk, and WHY DO YOU KEEP MAKING HULK MOVIES? WTF?
Don’t even tell me it can’t be done. I have space for some awesome female superhero movies on my shelf right next to Underworld, Resident Evil and Silver Hawk. Take my fucking money already.
“It’s about damn time.”
Ant-Man takes all of my fan frustration and embodies it in the character of Hope van Dyne (played by Evangeline Lilly.) Despite her awesome fighting abilities and her powers, she is kept on the sidelines by her father, Dr Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas.) Hope is willing to put on the suit, to make sacrifices, and to be the superhero she clearly is. She’s also genuinely pissed that she’s being held back.
Hope’s final line in the movie is this: “It’s about damn time.” That climactic scene is a release to all the tensions built up by decades of super-dudes and mega-guys. It is a promise to fans that Marvel is done treating women as second-class superheroes.
Yay, right? But what seems to be overlooked in all the celebration is a small but important scene in the middle of the movie. A frustrated Hope gets in her car to leave, and Scott Lang (aka Ant-Man, played by Paul Rudd) jumps into the passenger seat to talk her into staying.
I don’t remember the conversation verbatim, but Scott explains to Hope that the reason her father is willing to put him in the Ant-Man suit but keep her out of it is “obvious.” He is expendable. She is not. “It’s proof that he loves you,” Scott says.
Think about that for a moment.
Could this be an explanation by Marvel as to why female superheroes have been kept off the front lines for so long? Could it be that Stan Lee & Co didn’t want to see women get beaten to a bloody pulp, like The Punisher? Maybe.
Is it a good rationale? Of course not.
But in light of the ending of Ant-Man, is it an acceptable apology?
You Bring This Up NOW?
Back when I had less-than-no money, I used to write inside birthday cards, “I would have put some money in this card, but I’ve already sealed the envelope!” Likewise, it’s a joke to wait till the end of the movie and then hear, “Yeppers, It’s about damn time, amirite?” and then… roll credits.
Let me get this straight, you knew this was a problem when you were writing the script? But you didn’t actually change the script? You didn’t think that maybe Hope could hero up in the movie climax and help save the day? Better yet, change the movie concept to be Wasp instead of Ant-Man, because it’s about damn time, amirite?
Is Marvel really that stupid? Or are they just greedy and marketing told them that a Ant-Man movie will pull in more $$$ than a Wasp movie? Either way is difficult for me to swallow.
But, if Ant-Man really is Marvel Inc saying they are sorry for not having superhero movies with a female lead, I have some wisdom for them:
“Don’t be sorry. Just don’t do it again.”
Don’t get me wrong, Ant-Man is great. Go see it. But Marvel admitting that they have a problem is only calling attention to the fact that they aren’t really fixing it. “It’s about damn time.” is a weak promise, hastily tacked onto the END of the movie which, if you ask me, is about three movies too late and still leaves the problem unresolved.
But now that they’ve essentially called themselves out, every movie Marvel releases that doesn’t deliver on the promise only makes them look worse. From the looks of things, we’ll have to wait until 2018 when Captain Marvel comes out.
Hey Marvel, you can’t have a Secret Invasion without a Spider Woman. Just sayin.
And that space on my shelf is getting dusty…