– Edited by Harry Williams June 19, 2018
The role of women within the Marvel Cinematic Universe has slowly evolved over the last decade. From side characters and love interests, to more prominent figures, and finally to the lead role.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is made up of massive, iconic male superheroes that constantly make history in the box office. Instead, I thought I’d take a look at the women that have been keeping them in place for the last 10 years.
Marvel’s Early Years
I’ve adored the Marvel Cinematic Universe since I watched the first Iron Man a decade ago. I was 11. Ever since then, I’ve tried my best to see each new film in my local cinema, and if not, managed to catch it on its DVD and online release. But, as much as I’ve loved these films, I have, however, developed a love-hate relationship with them as I’ve grown older. This is because of Marvel’s representation of women.
Don’t get me wrong, as a young red-head growing up, I adored Black Widow (played by Scarlett Johansson) and how tough yet beautiful she was. It would’ve been great to have seen a Black Widow solo film, but time passed and it seemed unnecessary as some of her back story was shown in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
But once grown up, I realised that she was the only constant female character within this mass of muscle and testosterone, that any woman or girl watching could really aspire to be. That’s not to say that she was the only female character around, just that others kind of came and went.
If we look at the likes of Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), who have been casually portrayed alongside Black Widow since the early days, they’re strong characters who, within their own roles and movies, have given the men a run for their money. But as I’ve mentioned, they’re minor characters who don’t get enough screen time to be able to make a great impact on the young girls looking for inspirational females within this male dominated universe.
But recently I’ve realised that this has started to change a little.
With the initial glimpse of females entering the MCU, with Elisabeth Olsen’s Scarlett Witch and Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter joining this evergrowing cast, it was clear that Marvel were listening to its audience by introducing female characters and letting them stick, with Smulders’ Maria Hill also becoming more integral role within the films.
But from this another problem arises: all the female characters I’ve mentioned are white. So although we were getting more female inclusion, there was a distinct lack of diversity.
Then came release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 and 2, Thor Ragnarok and Black Panther, and a whole new wave of inspiring female characters arrived. We ended up having a beautiful mixture of women, from Karen Gillan’s Nebula who was tortured and full of hate, to Letitia Wright’s youthful and casual genius, Shuri, to Tessa Thompson’s bad-ass Valkyrie.
The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise brought us many new Marvel women. Nebula’s step-sister Gamora (Zoe Saldana) being the feisty woman who, despite being Star Lords‘ love interest, is trying to choose good over the darkened past she’s had to live through. We were also introduced to Pom Klementieff, who is of Korean-French descent, who undertook the role of Mantis. She connects to everyone around her through her abilities to feel others emotions, a rather stereotypical ability for a female but one Klementieff makes her own.
In addition, Marvel are pulling in some greats in the acting world to play these roles. Oscar winners Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia in Black Panther), Cate Blanchett (Hela in Thor Ragnarok) and Tilda Swinton (The Ancient One in Dr. Strange), have definitely helped the female cause by bringing their high status and glorious acting to these casual, fun, superhero films.
It has been amazing to see how so many women are ready to be a part of such a massive franchise when given the opportunity. It encourages young females and, with these actors agreeing, gives the opportunity for a wide representation within the universe for the diverse audience that Marvel holds.
As a young woman who has grown up within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it has been a pleasure to see all of these strong, bold female characters emerge and come to life on the big screen. Also, knowing that the first solo female film is on its way – Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel – is even more exciting to see and the introduction of Hope van Dyne’s Wasp, in the next scheduled Marvel film, Ant-Man and the Wasp, is another encouraging step for all the MCU’s female fans out there to witness.
Having a constant stream of diverse female inclusion has made me respect Marvel more and hope they carry on the progressive work that they’re showing with their current movies and modern views surrounding females within their universe for characters and fans alike.
Original article here .