I am going to begin this by admitting that I am not the biggest superhero movie fan. I do not mean that I do not enjoy superhero movies, I mean that I cannot rattle off the statistics about them, I cannot tell you how many actors have played Superman, I cannot take part in a conversation about movies versus comic books concerning original story lines. But I do like them–for what it is worth–I do enjoy watching an action packed filled story that is backed with emotion. Yes, even if Ben Affleck will be playing Batman (who has always been my favorite superhero).
But there is something I can talk about, superhero or otherwise, and that is equality. (Shocker, I know.) I have become absolutely enamored with the actresses who have played strong female roles in superhero movies over the last few years, and not just because their characters are badasses, but because the actresses themselves have spoken up.
Interviewer: Firstly Robert, in Iron Man 1 and 2, Tony Stark started off as a very egotistical character but now learns how to fight as a team, so how did you approach this role bearing in mind the kind of maturity of the Tony Stark character and did you learn anything throughout the movies that you make?
And to Scarlett, for getting into the shape of Black Widow, did you have anything special to count as a diet, any specific food or that kind of thing?
Robert Downey Jr: If I’ve learned anything, it’s that people are much more interested in your second question to Scarlett than any answer I have to give.
Scarlett Johansson: How come you get the really interesting existential question and I get the rabbit food question?
I should not have to point out how incredibly insulting that question is because Black Widow is a complex, mysterious, awesome character, and Johansson did a supreme job representing that in the role. Yet…we cannot get past what she ate to not bulge out of the suit? All superhero costumes are tight, yet men are never asked that question.
The wonderful Anne Hathaway is also known for shooting down dumb interview questions, namely when she called out an interviewer for asking her about fitting into the suit she wore for Catwoman.
I can almost guarantee, if you are a wise reporter, that these two lovely superheroes (in real life and on film) have helped curb the inane questions about fitting into their costumes in the future. However, who is going to call out the artists and production teams who create the movie posters?
I have known Justin Huertas since middle school and thanks to social networking, I have been able to creepily stalk and support his work in theater and as an artist. I could not stop thinking about something he posted the other day, his recreation of the posters for the second Captain America movie. It was almost a casual find, simply stuck on my newsfeed alongside pictures of breastfeeding, Seahawks pride, and funny e-cards about being single on Valentine’s Day. This is better than that, though. This is above what anyone ate for lunch.
The caption was simply: “Today’s sketch is brought to you by Feminism.”
Like one of those “spot the differences” picture games, I stared at the sketch for quite some time. I didn’t even notice how silly Captain America looked at first because I was so stuck on how fierce Black Widow looked. It is absolutely insane that, even in a picture where the female character is holding a gun in each hand, the producers still attempt to make her seem dainty and over-sexual whereas Captain America’s stance is broad and tough.
Take some time to spot the differences, and make your own conclusions.
It is great that women have roles greater than the damsel in distress in superhero movies, absolutely. But a better interpretation of Black Widow exists in Huertas’ sketch than on a poster that likely cost millions to create and disperse, which is, simply put, pathetic.
Thank you to my old pal for calling attention to something that even the loudest, proudest feminist almost missed.
I wish we were taking strides instead of baby steps, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Huertas sketch via permission from the artist, Anne image via feminspire.