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The Marginalization of Women’s Stories During The Summer Movie Season

The Marginalization of Women's Stories During The Summer Movie Season

The summer movie season kicked off this weekend with gusto with the record breaking $200 million opening of The Avengers.   I joined the throngs on Friday afternoon for a showing and there was much excitement in the theatre.  Just to give you a sense of the excitement, when the credits rolled at the beginning, people clapped. 

Now that I write about movies, I see a lot of movies at screenings and the one down side to that is that I never get to see previews.  I love previews.  I love trying to guess what movie the preview is of just as it starts.  I love getting excited for an upcoming movie I didn’t expect to like.  I used to love this show on E! called Coming Attractions which was a weekly half-hour look at upcoming movies.  It was this film nerd’s favorite show of the week.  But that feels like a lifetime ago before I really started thinking about how movies are so male dominated. 

Even though I write about gender and films, I am still a movie lover so as I sat back in my seat I was as excited for the previews as I was for the film.  The previews started rolling with The Dark Knight.  Damn that looked awesome.  Anne Hathaway will be a great Catwoman.  Then Battleship, which I could take or leave, but the friend who I was with had already seen it abroad and liked it.  So that could be a maybe.  Then the new Spider Man.  That looked really good too.  I’ll see that one.  Then Paranorman.  Not for me.

Wedged in the previews was one for Brave.  It made my heart sing.  That movie looks so amazing.  But aside from the fact that it looks so good, seeing that preview and hearing the voice of Kelly MacDonald as the Princess Merida was shock inducing.  A girl’s voice in a summer movie preview.  I never really thought before how rarely that happens.  It broke the cycle and made me again realize how important the stories of women and girls are especially when there is a mostly male captive audience. 

And all this was even before the movie began which I have to say was fun.  I didn’t love it because it was way too long and the final battle sequence was endless.  And the fact that all the guys in the movie had superpowers and Black Widow’s (Scarlett Johansson) superpower was the ability to get people to reveal secrets was pathetic.  She kicked a bit of ass, but her character was nowhere near as interesting as the male characters.  And I have to say that Mark Ruffalo was my favorite Avenger.

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Not to mention originally there were to be no female Avengers period in the picture until Whedon raised an objection during pre production.

Michael Medeiros

To Rachel below: That is actually a really good question. It was very hard to develop Tiger Lily Road. Took me 2 years and 4 full cast readings and I listened to a LOT of criticism from a lot of very perceptive women. It was only when I when I began to get their positive feedback that I felt I could begin the production process. All I was trying to say in my first post was, more women could be doing the same thing. Michael Medeiros, Bennett Park Films (dot) com.

Michael Medeiros

Well yeah, Rachel I am advertising my movie "about women." If I don't, who will. As for the quality of the movie, I really hope I get to see an audience decide. I think my point is still valid though. I find women equally as fascinating as men so I'm going to keep writing parts for them. As many as for men.

Michael Medeiros

Look, the only thing that's going to make a difference is to have as many important female characters as male characters. I mean WTF, are men somehow more good, evil, driven, interesting than women? I think not. And as women make up (more than) half the planet…What's it going to take? Tiger Lily Road is a film (in post) in which 4 of the 6 leads are women. That's what it's going to take? I mean a woman should have written this movie…but they didn't. — MIchael Medeiros, Bennett Park Films (dot) com


SPOILER ALERT: and in my opinion, the actress Cobie Smulders was being set up to be the new righthand man for Samuel L. Jackson, since Clark Gregg's character was killed off. So I thought that was great.

Scott Mendelson

All due respect, you're upset because the main female on the team was the smartest one in the group? Why is that a bad thing, especially when she completely holds her own in combat to boot? I agree with the crux of this piece, although I think a real change is coming over the next few years as a result of Twilight, Hunger Games, Bridesmaids, Mama Mia, etc (they aren't being written off as 'flukes' as much anymore). As for The Avengers, it worked as a feminist piece purely because neither of the two main female characters were treated as sex objects and their abilities (mental and physical) were completely taken for granted. Also, nice touch Joss, half of the onscreen SHIELD agents were female.

Tyler Foster

That's not entirely true. Hawkeye has no powers except skill, and Black Widow has an equal amount in hand-to-hand combat.

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