Please Stop Misrepresenting Women in the Superhero Genre – We Are More than just Foil Characters!

Caitlyn Moss

Representation of women in the media, through mediums such as novels and films in the sci-fi/superhero genre has always been equal when compared to the amount of men that are seen in this genre. In a recent skit done by Saturday Night Live, Scarlett Johansson portrayed her famous character, Black Widow, in a parody of what a movie trailer for a Black Widow movie may look like based on the way Marvel has portrayed their female characters in the past.

Saturday Night Live took to the liberty of playing on the fact that the female characters in recent Hollywood blockbusters, such as The Avengers, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Iron Man 2, and Guardians of the Galaxy. In all of these movies, the female characters seem to basically exist just to make the male characters plot more interesting. For example, the romantic relationship that occurs between Black Widow and Hulk, this relationship doesn’t seem to do anything for Black Widow but fulfill the stereotype that women need to be in a relationship for their roles in the media to be deemed “important.” Throughout the skit, the slogan of the movie is “Marvel: We get Women,” (SNL, 2015) which is very iron because rather than making the parody trailer like a typical superhero movie it is depicted in the genre of romantic comedy. The satire brought up different issues of how female characters are presented in this genre through a comedic perspective. Across all different genres of popular movies, women are commonly shown on the big screen in a very soft manner, their looks are very important, and the main conflict in the plot comes from a relationship issue, and that’s how Scarlett Johansson’s character in the parody is played off. Although it may be taken at face value as just a funny video, it really does prove that women need to be characterized

The SNL parody brings to light the way that women are represented in not just marvel but in different channels of media everywhere. In the different readings and movies we reviewed in class, such as Ms. Marvel and Big Hero 6, the representation of the female characters was significantly better than many of the more popular movies in the genre. Ms. Marvel is a very strong character; she is not defined by being in a relationship and is not portrayed by the common conception of beauty and the female characters, GoGo and Honey Lemon in Big Hero Six both can stand alone and don’t need to be defined by male characters in order to be great. All of these characters are not defined by whom they are dating or if they are stereotypically beautiful, they are defined by the actions that they take throughout the plot. Typical gender roles and gender equality in today’s American society still need to be fought for, people need strong female role models in the media to look up to. When women face discrimination and sexist There needs to be better representation of women, and when there are such big name companies, like Marvel, depicting women as background characters and secondary to the male leads, it is extremely frustrating because they have such a large impact on how women are seen in the media. Women are much more than a plot enhancement and it’s about time that they receive the credit and representation that they deserve.

Works Cited

Big Hero 6. Walt Disney, 2015. DVD.

Black Widow Trailer. Youtube., 3 May 2015. Web. 16  Dec. 2015.

<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_5KgpN38hM&gt;.>

Wilson, G. Willow, and Adrian Alphona. Ms. Marvel: No Normal. New

York, NY: Marvel Worldwide, 2014. Print.

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Ms. Marvel:No Normal — Close Reading

“It’s like having completely a new sense. It’s not sight or taste or touch– it’s something much weirder.”

“Something almost–

inhuman

“But being someone else isn’t liberating

it’s exhausting

“I always thought that if I had amazing hair, if I could pull off great boots, if I could fly–

–that would make me feel strong. That I would feel happy.”

“But the hair gets in my face, the boots pinch…

…and this leotard is giving me an epic wedgie.”

“What made me happy…”

“What made me happy was seeing Zoe take a breath of air. Even though she makes everyone feel like crap…”

“I’m glad I was there. I’m glad she lived.”

In this scene, Kamala was just given special abilities by Captain Marvel, Captain America, and Ironman. The illustrations show that the fog is still clearing from the panels, demonstrating that there is still this sense of confusion in the air. Also Kamala is shown almost identical to Captain Marvel, aside from a slight costume change. However, instead of being excited and happy about her newfound abilities, or as Kamala calls it “a new sense,” she is depicted showing feelings of sadness and confusion. I believe that relates directly to what she explains in this scene. Kamala believed that is she could be strong and beautiful with great hair and great boots she would feel amazing and unstoppable, but instead she realizes that by being someone you are not can be extremely “exhausting.”

I believe that the bolded words in this scene serve a very important purpose. I read the bolded words as if Kamala was questioning what they actually meant, for example when she says in the first line, “It’s like having completely a new sense. It’s not sight or taste or touch– it’s something much weirder,” I believe sense and weirder are setting the tone of confusion and they help the reader understand that Kamala doesn’t quite know what is happening to her yet and she does not know what the future will hold for her and her new abilities. The rest of the bolded words in this passage, seem to also emphasize the idea that all of these things that she thought she wanted, great hair, great boots, a nice costume, isn’t what really matters. The one event that really matter in this scene is that she was able to save Zoe from drowning. When Kamala was able to save Zoe it put all of these materialistic things out of her mind and she saw and much more potential she had.

One more interesting thing I found in this passage, mainly about the illustration, was that Kamala looked identical to Captain Marvel, including her skin color. I found this interesting because Kamala says on a different page, “Zoe thought that because I snuck out, it was okay for her to make fun of my family. Like Kamala’s finally seen the light and kicked the dumb inferior brown people and their rules to the curb.” Kamala obviously loves her family but she knows that compared to everyone else, she is different because of her skin color and her religious views. But when she asks Captain Marvel to be like her, and her skin was changed, I feel as if part of her identity and background was stripped away from her, which was apart of the reason she felt so strange and exhausted. Soon she will come to see that it’s okay for her to stand up for what she believes in and that there really is “No Normal” when it comes to race, religion, and her background.

The Shadow Hero (1-71) Close Reading Response

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<Hank, your face…! I’ll get some ointment from the shelf.>

<No, Ba. I’m Fine>

<You save that for the customers.>

<Hua, stop! Everyday Hank comes home with fresh bruises!>

<!>

<Don’t you think you’ve taken this too far?>

<What!? How can you be so selfish? If your lonely during the day, call up your delinquent friends for Mahjong! Hank is doing something important right now.>

<He doesn’t have to end up a coward like you!>

<Coward?!>

You think I don’t know about you and that criminal? All because you’re too afraid to stand up to him? And so your wife has to work just to put food on the table! So shameful!>

<What?!>

<You have no idea what you’re talking about, Hua! That’s how business works in Chinatown!>

<Psh. Whatever helps you sleep at night! Just stay out of Hank’s way! He’s going to be something better than you! He’s going to be something more!>

This is the first time that Hank’s mother uses the word “coward” in the story. She is very disappointed with her life, even since she was a small child she has been unhappy. She had such amazing dreams of what America would be like, however, due to racial segregation her family was forced to live in a small, dirty, part of town, known as Chinatown. When she calls Hank’s father a “coward,” she is referring to him paying off the criminals who claim “to rule” that area of Chinatown where they live. I found this argument rather interesting between Hank’s parents for several reasons. First, it shows how because of all of the disappointments in Hank’s mother’s life she wants better for her son, she wants him to be something great. Although it is very common for parent’s to want their children to be great, Hank’s mother is very selfish for her reasoning. She is ignoring what Hank wants, however, because he cares so much about his family, he willing to do what it takes to make his mother happy. Another interesting aspect of this argument is Hank’s father, he truly believes that what he doing, paying off Mock Beak, is what is best for his family, even though it may not be the best decision. This provide foreshadowing into what ends up happening in the future, after Hank tries to get revenge for his father. I’m interested to see if Hank’s mother keeps continuing to be selfish after Hank’s father dies, or if she lets Hank help in the ways that he can once the Turtle spirit enters his shadow.