Addressing the Lack of Women in Superhero Films

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My project over spring break has been to watch The Avengers saga in chronological order. Avengers: Infinity War is due to be released on Star Wars Day (May the Fourth) this coming summer. Many fans are partaking in the chronological viewing of the infamous Marvel Universe films as preparation for the end-all film. When I was in fifth grade I discovered my dad’s comic book collection and instantly became obsessed with the Marvel universe. I even went so far as to write my college essay on superheroes.

As I have re-watched these films over the past week, I was filled with mixed emotions. Nostalgia for my younger life that revolved around these characters, inspiration for stories of my own that I hope to write someday, and fury at the lack of female representation in the films.

Superheroes and their stories have always pushed me to expand my initial perceptions of the world, to ignore other people’s opinions of me, and to never let go of my childhood passions and dreams. But as I watched these movies, many of them for the third or even fourth time, I noticed a shocking lack of female characters. Don’t get me wrong, I love the male characters with my whole heart, but I will never be able to relate to them as much as I could to female characters.

It is every kid’s dream to see themselves represented as their hero. For my brother, he found himself represented in Captain America. So much so that he even had a replica of the Cap’s shield hanging on his wall for years. While I certainly have my favorite characters, I never saw myself reflected in any of the characters.

I remember being so excited when I first saw Black Widow on screen. She was a strong, independent warrior, fighting battles with her hair down and lipstick on. However, not only did I not see myself in her, but she never got her own movie or a chance for her creation story to be told. She also lacked actual powers or gadgets akin to Thor’s or Iron Man’s.

I have not yet had the chance to see Black Panther but from the extensive articles I’ve read, it shatters barriers right and left - including both people of color and women in the world of Marvel and Hollywood in a way not yet seen on the big screen.

While I am forever grateful every time Marvel makes a point of adding strong female side characters to their films, I’m ready for the strong female MAIN characters. Ones that are diverse in every aspect and that represent girls across the world. I’m ready to see that female character whose shield I can proudly present on my own wall, and whose name inspires me to live my dreams to the fullest. These women already exist in the real world, where are they in the world of Hollywood’s Marvel universe?