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I am straight, white, cis dude and even I am getting fatigued by the seemingly endless procession of super hero movies led by straight, white, cis dudes (no matter how good some may be). The women of Marvel are overflowing with potential yet are endlessly stuck in the role of male-hero-supporter. This dynamic stifles the potential of these awesome characters. Marvel must free them from the shackles that bind them to the exploits of the men and let them lead their own stories.
It's time for Marvel to stop talking about the existential 'strong female role' and just make some projects led by bloody women. Projects with women as the main characters are the only ways to prove they actually care about gender equality in their films.
Valkyrie is no prim and proper princess and I love it. She takes no shit and drinks like a supreme court justice nominee. And she even wears armour that actually protects her instead of slinky thigh bearing sheaths i.e. Wonder Woman (even gods have femoral arteries). The Thor franchise is founded on the core bro-ship of Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. The greatest testament to Tessa Thompson is that she not only steals scenes from the boys, she actually elevates their performances. As an actress she brings out the best in others and as a character she rips up the screen single handed.
I WANT TO SEE:
Valkyrie boozing and fighting her way around the galaxy. I want to see her fight in the arena, effortlessly destroying throngs of worthless opponents. I want to see her play a role in capturing the Hulk. And also, Valkyrie was in a romantic relationship with another Valkyrie, let's do that relationship justice and explore a non-heterosexual romance.
The women in Black Panther really stole the show for me. I would love to see projects led by Okoye, Shuri, Nakie and Ramonda, there is so much opportunity for great storytelling. But If I had to choose just one it would be General Okoye. Danai Gurira is a world class all-conquering badass empress and NEEDS to be given her own project. She is MICHONNE from The Walking Dead for God’s Sake. Even among this group of staggeringly awesome women she stands out to me as infinitely exciting and I want to see everything she is capable of. Okoye is a General in command of a Vanguard of terrifying female warriors and she is the most formidable of them all.
I WANT TO SEE:
To be honest I would watch her just glare angrily at the men of Wakanda for 13 episodes. Besides that, I want to see her journey through the ranks of the Wakandan military, where her resolve and mettle were forged. There were rumours of a romance with another woman in Black Panther that would be perfect to explore. How does love impact her duty as a younger less experienced soldier?
Has no one at Marvel noticed yet that Zoe Saldana is one of the most powerful and accomplished actors on the planet. It is a travesty that she is is perpetually placed in the supporting role as women-in-orbit-of-man. Look at her track record in Avatar, Star Trek and Guardians of the Galaxy where she plays the girlfriend of a more-important-man. Finally free her from restraint and let her Gamora explore the Galaxy alone for a while.
I WANT TO SEE:
Gamora as cold bounty hunter that worked solo caring only about results. I want to watch the tragedy of her relationship with her sister Nebula play out. Zoe Saldana is ludicrously talented, lets give her the room to explore her potential.
Admittedly, Scarlett Johansson in having a bit of a PR nightmare at the minute. Nevertheless, Black Widow has been stuck trotting around after the boys in Marvel films for nearly a decade now while Captain America, Thor and Iron Man have each had their own trilogy. She is fairly family friendly in the films but her early life as a Russian assassin begs for a punisher-style study in violence and darkness. For her, the cold war never ended, the suspicion, anxiety and intrigue of her existence are ripe for exploration.
I WANT TO SEE:
Natasha going up against the Winter Soldier program as a Russian agent and see why she defected to SHIELD. I also want to see her earlier relationship with Hawkeye and perhaps explore how his development of a family causes her to confront her past and her infertility.
The Wasp is an enigmatic character played by an exciting actress. The Antmen (Hank Pym and Scott Lang) are devastatingly irritating and contemptible (see my article on Antman and the Wasp to see why.) Who leads the way in the Antman films? Can you guess? My disgust at the wasted potential of Hope fuels my plea to Marvel to kill the Antmen so that the Wasp can lead her own life and her own stories instead of being strapped to the back of lesser men.
I WANT TO SEE:
Several years after the brutal and agonising deaths of Hank and Scott, Hope travelling the world bringing down corporate corruption and crime. She doesn’t mention Hank or Pym once. Everything she does she does for her own personal needs. No more goddamn Antmen.
Your Move Marvel
There you go Marvel, 5 ideas to get you started on developing these projects. You now have no excuse for persisting to avoid female led projects. The time is now my friends to give these incredible actors and their extraordinary characters the free reign to fully realise their infinite potential.