Where are the Women in Doctor Strange?

Where are the Women in Doctor Strange?

HARDCORE SPOILER CENTRAL

Well. For the most basic, formulaic, over-used origin story ever, Doctor Strange was really good. Deadpool was the only Marvel movie I’ve really enjoyed over the past couple of years, so I was expecting the worst and was pleasantly surprised.

The writing was actually solid, the special effects were amazing, and it made me laugh out loud at more than one point.

However the women were…. okay. It didn’t pass the Bechdel test. There were barely even two named female characters. Does “The Ancient One” count as a name?

The women had a lot of potential, I guess. But they sort of fell flat.

The Ancient One had the most possibility for coolness. I love Tilda Swinton and I love the idea of an older woman (Swinton is 56) being the trainer and spiritual leader and being seen as a formidable opponent. She has this cool bald, androgynous thing going on, which I also loved. But she dies at the end. Leaving only one established female character for a sequel.

The whole white-washing thing also kinda ruined it for me. I understand that the director wanted to avoid casting an asian woman because he didn’t want to perpetuate the “Dragon Lady” stereotype. It’s just very frustrating that instead of writing a better, three-dimensional character that wasn’t a stereotype, he decided to avoid starring any asian women in the film at all. Even the female henchmen were white.

Also, on that note: I’m 100% all for female henchmen. I love them. Kill Bill Volume 1 is a great example of women being seamlessly grafted into a story arch as formidable henchmen and worth opponents.

Kaecilius’s female henchmen don’t get names, lines, or even the dignity of being the boss battle. They are not real threats. They don’t even get thrown the comedy bone. The male henchmen gets the laughs. He’s the mini boss battle that Strange actually has to work to defeat. The women are so nondescript  and boring that the credits refer to them as “blonde zealot” and “brunette zealot” because even though they appear on screen multiple times, their is literally no other way to label them.

I appreciate the fact that they at least tried. It was nice to see some evil female fighters.

Now on to my biggest disappointment of the movie: Rachel McAdams’ character Christine. Christine is so cool. She’s an emergency room surgeon who has dedicated her life to saving lives. If only she was actually ever shown as a competent doctor. She saves nobody on screen. She’s not the one who reassembles Strange’s hands. When Strange gets stabbed, he has to guide her through saving him, even though SHE’S the emergency room surgeon. She is incapable of saving The Ancient One. She does nothing.

So yet again, Marvel has created a fun movie with a cool cast of characters and totally screwed over the women.

 

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Where are the Women in Deadpool? Part 1

There will be spoilers.

I’ll admit I was genuinely worried about the female representation in Deadpool. Let’s take a fandom known for it’s hardcore fanboys and give them an R-rated movie. I was sure NOTHING could go wrong.

One of my favourite pet peeves in movies (super hero/action movies in particular) is when a female character dies purely to further what I call “the manpain” but is sometimes referred to as “mangst.”

When a female character’s purpose in the movie is only to cause the hero internal conflict and then to die and cause the hero excruciating pain and heartbreak, furthering his hatred of the villain and giving him an edgy, “pushed to far to care” attitude. This troupe is literally called “I Let Gwen Stacy Die.”

Some notable examples are:
Gwen in The Amazing Spider-Man
Rachel in The Dark Knight
Every single female character in Ant Man
Lily Potter in Harry Potter
Most of the women in Arrow (I’ve lost track at this point)
The mom in Supernatural (does she even HAVE a name?)

You get the point. The woman’s only purpose is to cause emotional turmoil for the hero.

Wade Wilson is the perfect chance to use this troupe. He’s lost everything, the only thing he cares about is Vanessa. It would be so easy to have Francis push Wade over the edge by killing her.

We do get a little angst: “Ohhhh she’ll never love me, I’m hideous! No one could ever find me attractive, I must protect her” but for some reason I didn’t find it obnoxious or over-done.

And yes, she does get kidnapped, but it’s not due to her own stupidity. Plus, she basically rescues herself from the oxygen deprivation tank, like when’s the last time that happened?

But she also doesn’t dissolve into a sobbing mess the moment Wade leaves her side. She’s strong, grown-ass woman who continues to work and live and survive, just like she has for her entire life. Because her life doesn’t revolve around him.

So does Deadpool pass the Bechdel Test? Nope. But does it portray healthy relationships with realistic and non-damsel in distress characters? Yeah, I think it does.

Where are the Women in The Walking Dead?

I know I sound like a broken record, but maybe if I play the record enough, it will make some sort of impact.

I watched the first episode of the Walking Dead this week.

And I loved it. I love the world, the special effects, the cinematography, all of it. What I don’t love is the depressing lack of female characters.

There’s that one zombie woman, the wife/mother. Does she have a name? I don’t think so. Not one that I can remember. Her purpose in life is literally to be the angst-fuel for her survivor husband. She has no relevance on her own. She exists only to further his plot line.

And what about the sheriff’s wife, the one we don’t see for basically the entire episode? We know her name because he screams it several times. But what do we know about her? Nothing. Absolutely nothing except for the fact that she’s cheating on her husband and is apparently incapable of making decisions without being advised by men in her life. You know what that sounds like to me? Furthering of the sheriff’s angsty plot line.

It would have been so easy to make one of the several minor characters women, but they didn’t and that saddens me.
I’m going to continue watching the show because I enjoyed it thoroughly and maybe they’ll introduce some more female characters, but I doubt it.

Where are the Women in Ant-Man?

Hope Ant-Man Promo

I’m a big Marvel fan. I excitedly await the releases of all of their movies and TV shows. So of course I was extremely excited about Ant-Man. A friend and I made it a girl’s night out and I was ready for what the trailer sold me on: a cheesy, funny movie with a lovable hero.

I wasn’t ready for the total lack of female characters. There are (barely) three named female characters in the entire movie and maybe a couple of female background scientists (maybe?). About 50% of the human race is female, about 50% of the movie theatre patrons were female. I think it’s fair to ask that 50% of the named speaking roles in a movie should be female.

The three named female characters were also extremely trope saturated and disappointing.

  1. Hope: Classic example of the standard “women in positions of power” trope. She is cold, harsh and, at times, downright cruel, but in the end, men still control her life.
  2. Maggie: Provides conflict by not wanting Scott to be near his daughter and rivalry by dating a police officer.
  3. Cassie: Scott and Maggie’s daughter, the pure light in Scott’s life, the reason he strives to be a better man.

While watching the movie I felt like these women didn’t have stories or lives of their own, they existed only in connection to the main character, Scott.

Marvel is such an influential company. They are shaping our world by creating comic books, movies, and TV shows that are being consumed by an enormous variety of people.

Marvel should be using their power to create fictional environments where female characters thrive in their own right, not only to show young girls a variety of  strong female role models, but also to show women in general that they are valued viewers and consumers of all things geeky.