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An Open Letter to Joss Whedon from a Disappointed Feminist Fan After Watching ‘Age of Ultron’

An Open Letter to Joss Whedon from a Disappointed Feminist Fan After Watching 'Age of Ultron'

Dear Joss Whedon,

Sara here. Longtime fan, encyclopedic "Buffy" expert, unofficial Browncoat, "Dr. Horrible" soundtrack-lover, "Dollhouse" apologist (you tried!). You’ve been a formative influence in my pop cultural tastes for the past two decades. I’ve always maintained, loudly and publicly, that you were on the side of making that world a better, more welcoming, more nuanced place for women — as fictional characters, and as viewers. I mean, just a few short years ago, you said this:

So, um, we need to talk about "Avengers: Age of Ultron." I had my doubts when I saw one bombastic, testosterone-soaked trailer after another make its way around the internet, but I tempered my reaction with a soothing refrain of, "But it’s Joss Whedon. They’re just not showing the smart parts. That’s not what trailers are about." I really liked the first "Avengers" movie, for the record. I thought it was intelligent and funny and, OK, short on women — but at least you had Black Widow, which was kind of new and exciting in a landscape that had been uniformly male for forever. That was progress, I thought, upon which you would capitalize in the next film.The disappointing treatment of Scarlett Johansson’s character in the sequel (and, for that matter, beforehand) has already been examined in an excellent Daily Beast piece by Jen Yamato, so I won’t retread everything she’s said. But I would like to add, did we really need Natasha to have a mini-breakdown over the fact that she can’t have children? Haven’t we gotten to a point where the one lonely female superhero in our current landscape can just pursue the business of avenging without having to bemoan not being a mother? Caitlin Moran, help me out here: 

"I have a rule of thumb that allows me to judge, when time is pressing and one needs to make a snap judgment, whether or not some sexist bullshit is afoot. Obviously, it’s not 100% infallible but by and large it definitely points you in the right direction and it’s asking this question; are the men doing it? Are the men worrying about this as well? Is this taking up the men’s time?"

Male superheroes generally don’t have kids, which makes sense; it’d get in the way of their superheroing. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) does make reference to not being able to have kids, too, but it’s in more of a "well, obviously" way. Couldn’t it just be the same for women? For this rather busy woman, anyway?

Black Widow, unfortunately, is only the tip of the iceberg. Let’s take a look at all the other female characters in "Age of Ultron."

You got Linda Cardellini — Lindsay goddamn Weir! — in your movie, and you made her a housewife. As Hawkeye’s secret spouse (he’s kept his family in some sort of superhero protection program, apparently), she is literally pregnant and in the kitchen for most of her screen time. Sure, she dispenses some womanly words of wisdom and lets the Avengers crash in their Pottery Barn-tastic farmhouse, but seriously? That is some reductive gender shit right there. She is literally keeping the home fires burning. (How do I know this? Because there’s a lengthy scene in which two male Avengers show off their muscles chopping firewood.)

And let’s talk about the support staff at the new state-of-the-art Avengers building. Cobie Smulders is on hand again as Maria Hill, a high-ranking officer in the establishment who seems to do nothing but walk around with a clipboard, wear tight black pantsuits and have the occasional chastising Skype session with our heroes (I’m not watching "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," so maybe she’s tearing it up there, but you can’t count on moviegoers to know these things). And Claudia Kim plays Dr. Helen Cho, who can apparently do brilliant things with genetics but mostly just gets mind-warped by the villainous Ultron and, later, beaten up by him.

Early on, both women look like a million bucks at the superhero cocktail party, of course. And it’s at this party where both Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) brush off the lack of appearances from their significant others — Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) — by making brief, competitive mention of how the ladies are too busy out there changing the world to show up. OK, but either of those characters would really have upped the quotient of substantive females onscreen in this nearly two-and-a-half-hour sausage-fest. Seriously, you couldn’t get Gwyneth or Natalie for a couple days?

Then there’s Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch character. Yes, she has a superpower, but it’s one that feels dreamed up by men who are terrified of women: She messes with people’s minds, dude! That’s not on you, Joss; the canon is already there, I know. No, my main beef with your treatment of Olsen is that this very talented actress gets zero quippy Whedony dialogue. There’s plenty of it elsewhere in the film, but mostly it belongs to Tony, Thor, and Cap (Chris Evans). The Hulk and Black Widow/Natasha, meanwhile, are too busy making eyes at each other in this one to be much fun.

Giving characters — particularly women — snappy, juicy, reference-laden dialogue is, like, YOUR WHOLE THING. It’s what MADE you.

Scarlet Witch could have been really memorable — or, at a minimum, a fun, articulate contrast to the film’s nonstop cavalcade of robot-fighting scenes, which blend into one another almost immediately. Instead she’s just a red-eyed millennial who gives the Avengers bad trips.

Again and again, you’ve paid lip service to the idea of fighting misogyny in the film industry — most recently, in the comic-book arena. "It’s a phenomenon in the industry that we call ‘stupid people,’" you’ve said. "There is genuine, recalcitrant, intractable sexism, and old-fashioned quiet misogyny that goes on. You hear ‘Oh, [female superheroes] don’t work because of these two bad ones that were made eight years ago’… there’s always an excuse."

So what I want to know is, what’s your excuse?

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Comments

Fred

I would just like to add that, like… I don’t see the author of this article arguing that women should have to chop firewood – just arguing that they shouldn’t be presented as, you know, caring for their families.

James

As Lindsey said, the decision to have Wanda’s powers revolve around the idea of mind control was very much Whedon’s decision; he has mentioned it in interviews.

In the comics, and the original story, Wanda has the power to alter reality and probability. She’s, arguably, one of the most powerful mutants in the Marvel universe. Sadly, Avengers 2 watered her down to sidekick status and made her a shell of her former self. As to WHY that decision was made, I have no idea.

Jack Harper

Feminism is pure unrestrained hatred.

Cheryl Jensen

Coming in to this late, so this may not get read but have to say it anyway. Don’t have time to address all your points, so just going to address the one I think is being misrepresented all over the internet, that of Natasha worrying about not being able to have children. It is absolutely WRONG that only the woman character worries about a family. One of the major themes of this movie is family. That whole conversation started because Bruce was lamenting that being the Hulk negates his having children. Cap comments that he used to a be a person who wanted a family, but now he is a different person. Tony comments he just wants a farm with Pepper. Hawkeye’s main focus is making it back alive to his family. Whether or not super heroes can have families is a subplot of the entire film. In addition, that is only part of Natasha’s back story, and she mentions that it was done to make her a more efficient killing machine. It is a traumatic moment that she shares with Bruce to show him he is not alone. Note also that it is Bruce, the man, that wants the romance, that wants to just run away. Natasha chooses to honor her commitment and responsibility to the Avengers.

Matthew Miller

Oh please… Really? Do any of you read the comics? Do you know who the paying audience is? Comic fans!! Who are they mostly? Joss does bend the rules, but let’s be real he is following cannon. The movie is called "The Avengers" and guess who they mostly were way way back when? Keep it up Joss don’t let ignorant nobodies change what you are doing. When Wonder Women comes out I’ll be sure to start a blog crying about the lack of males in a female superhero movie. We can’t rewrite history morons, and if you did many comic fans would walk movies would tank… GJ

checkyourprivilege

You do know ULTRON is not a man right?

Birric Forcella

It’s the testosterone, stupid.
The testosterone makes the movie as super-success. If it was all informed about va-jay-jay whining, as our OP would like, the movie wouldn’t make a cent.
Thanks Joss Wheadon for finally coming out as an MRA. Your cover is blown despite all your past protestations.

Stephen

Maybe as a guy I just can’t see it but I don’t get the attack on joss. The hawk eye family although maybe a stereotype is brilliantly played to make us think hawk eye is going to die. Scarlet witch is just getting started as a character and we are seeing her origin. Black widow kicked ass throughout the film, was the aggressor in the romance breaking traditional stereotypes. Banner mentioned kids and all she did is say that’s not a problem I can’t have them anyway. It’s not mentioned here but some people have said that this is the reason she called herself a monster which is not how I read it, I thought that reference was to the fact she is a cold blooded killer, or at least used to be. I thought having thoroughly and ironman fight over who had the most successful girlfriend instead of the most beautiful was a nice flip on what we normally see and showed that these women are focused on career, so why you’re attacking that seen I don’t understand, with out knowing actors obligations we can’t say why these two ladies didn’t appear. Joss did his best with a world created in the sixties but there are limitations when writing. Had the doctor been a man who got controlled would this have made you happier, because we had that in the first film. This was an action film which in my opinion balanced gender roles well give the cast structure that has been set for decades, don’t attack a man who has worked tirlessly to unbalance gender stereotypes, not every thing he does will be perfect

Mack

I find it hilarious that a superhero who wants to eventually have children is a weakness to you. You also find being a mother and supporter of an avenger also a weak role. Compared to the avengers, yea it is but thats because they’re superpowered beings and their traits were established years ago. I agree 100% that Scarlett Witch was a let down though. Sorry you didn’t enjoy the movie, it was amazing for those who like these type of films.

Ryan

Oh puh-leese! Indiewire… you’re a great place for news, interviews and aspiring filmmaker tips, but I’m sick to death of seeing a feminist, LGBT, racial or human rights (like the disabled, impoverished and exploited) article about how Hollywood is sexist, racist, homophobic and greedy. Let me tell you something- it’s pretty damn hard to make films about women, black people or gays, because the latter is a small minority of the population, and it’s hard for all three of them because almost half of Hollywood’s films are usually set in the past… a time where all the straight, men stood out and are still majorly underrepresented (where are the films about the greats of human history: Conficius, Genghis Khan, Shakespeare, the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians, some of the first few Presidents of the US, Thomas Paine, Francis Drake, Napoleon, Leonardo Da Vinci, the Popes, the multiple revolutions or genocides that have occurred (Arab Spring, Mao, Stalin, Lenin, Pol Pot) or any of the great Scandinavian, German, French or Russian writers and artists???). Women, gays and other races didn’t generally have exciting lives- you can depict their discrimination with films like 12 Years a Slave, The Imitation Game and Suffragette- but you can’t keep expanding forever or you’ll have to delve into fictional storytelling, so you have people like Jane Campion or Spike Lee for example who cater for a specific audience (whom I both admire greatly), you can’t expect Hollywood to change its attitude. At the end of the day, the studios are corporations, meaning they strive for one thing only: profit. Transformers, F&F and especially Avengers do that. Men are generally physically superior, so of course they’ll star and co-star in these action films with hot female co-stars (and feminists, you can’t say objectification of women, because you’re REPRESSING male sexuality… which is VERY underrepresented). I’m not saying you can’t have strong female characters, I admire Mad Max: Fury Road and George Miller’s brilliant character, Furiosa, but you have to be rational. Having actresses like Carey Mulligan or journalists like this one, provide a criticism for every female character seen in a kitchen or not seen at all, is not constructive journalism that is meant to inform your readers- rather, you’re providing an idealistic liberal viewpoint, and if I see much more of it, as much as I love the website for most things, I’m going to have to disassociate myself from this obviously progressive website.

doodlee pigvirus

you hit ALL the points that irked me. and you KNOW you’re doing something right when the MRA tools come a-squawkin’. awesome :D

JDRhoades

You can easily "prove" that any movie has problem X if you handwave away any line, scene, or other evidence in the movie that shows "not x". For example, you downplay the fact that Benner says he can’t have a family, which is what leads to BW’s comment in the first place. You completely ignore the fact that Maria Hill is the freaking DIRECTOR OF SHIELD. You completely blow off Scarlet Witch’s ass-kicking turn in the final battle. An argument that blithely discounts any counter-evidence isn’t really an argument at all.

zach

I agree with this to an extent, but I also think it’s a bit harsh. Yes, Linda Cardellini was a housewife whose entire purpose in the film was to make Hawkeye sympathetic. Yes, the movie should have brought in Natalie Portman’s Jane and Gweneth Paltrow’s Pepper. And yes, the Avengers is still way too damn male dominated. That said, I really liked the reveal of Black Widow’s back story — she was turned into this murderer and assassin, a monster. I think that’s why she was upset. And while I think she clearly is traumatized by her sterilization, I think it was less about notions of motherhood and what a woman should be and far more about having been genetically modified without her consent. She didn’t ask for that, that’s a horrible thing for anyone to deal with, man or woman. Just my interpretation. I also thought that Black Widow’s character was quite funny, just as funny as the dudes, and I liked her romantic subplot and her devotion to finishing the mission. I think that her character was well rounded and compelling to the best extent the movie had time for, and I’m ready for a Black Widow movie! I think this movie could have done much more to represent women in a good light, but I also think that dismissing it as sexist is a mistake too. I think we’re slowly moving in the right direction, if Black Widow is any indication.

SoliverQueen

Let’s not forget Wanda’s symbolic fashion shift:
Bad Guy: Hot Topic Tomboy in a boob-hiding jacket
Good Guy: Frederick’s of Sokovia
Apparently professional bra-fittings are one of the perks of being an Avenger.

Tom Bemky

This is gross. Number one, men actually process women’s voices with the part of their brain that processes music and mens voice to men are processes with the part of the brain that processes all other sounds. So the whole thing with mind control is totally on point, and also because of sexual drive, women can and do take advantage of men moreso than vice versa.

your problem is with sentiments from the 50’s and 60’s, you know when these stories were created…. not Joss. The idea that you even bring his name into it is a gross violation of logic.

Jen

I interpreted the scene between Banner and Black Widow differently. I felt that seeing Hawkeye with his family made banner mournful that he can’t have a family and seeing natasha be auntie to hawkeyes family brought up concern that he can’t provide that for her. natasha listened as banner expressed that he can’t have children and responded with empathy and understanding that she can also not have children. It was something banner was upset about and a reason he was reluctant to be with her as he couldn’t provide her the family that hawkeye had. So while yes it is a bit reductive and I agree more female characters would make this movie better I think you are over simplifying it. I thought it was very Whedon-like to have banner discussing his pain about that, and also cap discussing that his dreams of family and home life were lost, and also have hawkeye show that his place is with his family, not just avenging.

Krissy Garcia

It is just as sexist to think that a woman has less value/strength because they want/have kids or stay at home with them. Do you have any clue the kind of badassery it takes to raise kids/be pregnant/keep the household running, especially while your partner is away a lot? I’m raising 6 kids and am pregnant with my seventh. it doesn’t get much more bad ass or super hero-y than this right here. I realize that’s not modern enough for you, but it’s the truth. Most people couldn’t handle what I do every day.

Sheldon

Didn’t anyone notice that it was Bruce Banner who first mentioned not being able to have children? Perhaps she was commiserating in his loneliness and pain over not being able to have a ‘normal’ life… or perhaps she was countering his argument that could not be together. I honestly thought this was more superhero angst than feminist stereotyping…

Likewise Hawkeye’s wife doubles down on the whole ‘normal life’ idea plus is a clever plot device to give Hawkeye a place to disappear to for the upcoming "Civil War" movies. If you notice everyone except Cap, the Black Widow and Scarlet Witch part ways at the end of the movie. Setting the stage for the New Avengers perhaps?

Emily

I disagree – Natasha’s comments about her forced sterilization and her inability to have kids are in direct response to Bruce saying that they can’t be together because he can’t risk being a dad with the big green guy always lurking – She was pointing out that it wouldn’t be an issue. Yes it was traumatic for her, but she wasn’t boo hooing over it at all! As for Hawkeye’s wife being pregnant and in the kitchen – His family was kept off the grid and away from *everything* – It’s not like she could have a career from the middle of nowhere. There is nothing wrong with her "keeping the homefires burning" – that is damned important to Hawkeye’s character. Anyone who thinks that staying home and being what amounts to a single parent to 3 kids and counting, in the middle of nowhere, with no support, all to welcome your loved one home isn’t a job that takes skill and badassery is just as misogynistic as the guys screaming about feminazis. Feminism isn’t about breaking women out of gender roles – it is about valuing *all* the various roles a woman can choose to occupy.

Chris

I had no issues with this movie. Remember it is just a movie. When Hawkeye was under Loki’s command in the first movie did you complain? Black Widow was great in the opening scene. Scarlett Witch was one of the best characters in the whole movie and the fact that she didn’t have great dialogue shouldn’t take anything away from her butt-kicking scenes. BTW her ability is to warp reality.

Jeremy

How dare a movie about superheroes based on comic books about superheroes fueled with testosterone, strength and competition don’t cater to the feminist agenda more. Twisting words from a movie to propel your agenda is worse than type-casting an age-old comic book character in a recent movie.
Black Widow referring to herself as a monster isn’t self-pity for being sterilized, it’s an overall description of who she thinks she is, killing indiscriminately, performing actions that she only recently started feeling shame and grief over.
As far as Scarlet Witch character development goes, your simplistic description of her abilities would imply you’ve never seen a superhero movie before. More specifically, you’ve never seen a recent Marvel movie. Did Iron Man or Cap or Thor immediately jump on screen and blow up everyone and perform all of his super-abilities in the first 20 minutes of their first feature film? No. It’s called character development, there is no doubt future Marvel movies will continue to develop her abilities to be equivalent to what she was capable of doing in the comic books.
This movie is about the Avengers first and foremost. Like it or not, the Avengers are Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America, then the rest of them, whomever that may be next week. Black Widow, Hawkeye, Fury and the rest are supporting cast. Getting upset that the majority of the movie-going world are paying to see the first four characters and then maybe the rest if there is time doesn’t justify your self-gratifying rant. Try taking a second and think about what is going on before you get upset about something that doesn’t require you getting upset about. If you want to push your agenda to further women’s cause, feel free to address issues that actually suppress women and women’s rights. A character in a movie that everyone enjoys isn’t the place.

Tony

This is the worst thing I’ve read all week.and I read a interview with John Mcain.

This comment will get deleted because it’s the truth. But everything in the movie,in the writing,went over your head.like most modern feministo logic and meaning goes out the window.Hawkeyes wife just a display character?ok when your secret spy partner is out saving the world,you go do some stuff to bring attention to you. The thing is,that’s real . there are professions in which families can not be on file.

Maria hills screen time? It was almost the same as nick furys. Why don’t we go after joss for being a racist?or killing a Russian character.or the white police officer shots In wakanada?

Wanda Maximov not being memorable? In a large cast people are bound to be overlooked.and it will happen again in civil war.

I could go on and on,but I’m not sure if you’re trolling or acasually stupid.

Katy Messier

I get the points you are trying to make but I don’t necessarily agree with them. The male hero’s may not mind not having children because it was an active choice they made as adults. With Black Widow I feel more like this was something that was pushed on her when she was still a child. She’s completely allowed to mourn that choice, to have her past haunt her. As for Hawkeyes spouse, there are some women who prefer the stay at home, help with the guests thing. I would have liked to see more of her but I don’t see how it would have added to the plot. Just my two cents.

Kishon

I’m over this. It’s clear some haven’t even read the comics or even looked at BW back story. Sorry to disappoint but she’s infertile in the comics due to her soviet training. And sorry not sorry fHawkeyes wife isn’t part of the comics and she’s a secret so you know Clint probably wants to keep her that way so nothing happens to her or her children? And the scarlet witch? If you know what role she plays in the marvel universe then her portrayal at all in this movie won’t even affect you and you would in fact be chomping at the bit to see what happens next. Why must feminists over analyze everything and try and ruin it for everyone. The movie was great, knock it off.

Polarbuggy

Does anyone remember Black Widow speaking with any females characters aside from Hawkeye’s wife during this film, at all? The fact that she’s on the same team as Scarlet Witch and we never witness a single word exchanged between the two of them is problematic.

Hector

From what I gathered from the movie, Natasha didn’t have a choice regarding being able to have children. This was taken away from her by the powers that felt she would make a good assassin for the KGB, which implies to me that its a scar among many from which she never fully recovered.

I can understand "Sara’s" reaction if Natasha had chosen to become sterile or to not to have children; the reaction would not fit with such a choice. This doesn’t seem to be the case in the way the story unfolded though.

Alexandra

As a feminist, I have to say this is an insidiously superficial reading of Black Widow’s character. To reduce her sterilization as some kind of miniature breakdown does gross injustice to the fact that what she lost was CHOICE. If anything, the film highlights the very real sexism of the world; Hawkeye is permitted to have a family while being a superhero, but Black Widow, by virtue of her sex, is not. Furthermore, the question of whether or not it is taking up men’s time is a grossly unfair one. Of COURSE it isn’t–men are already privileged, so it wouldn’t take up their time anyway! This kind of mentality borders upon being anti-mother, which is hardly what feminism is supposed to be about. Black Widow is not "bemoaning" anything, she is grieving the loss of a choice that should have always been hers, but was taken from her for the simple fact that she is a woman. That is a far more potent reading of the film than this surface scratching garbage.

Kam

What utter bilge. SW doesn’t have witty because she’s playing the straight man role. You faux feminists need to stop looking for excuses to get pissed off about things.

WillMayBeWise

I didn’t see the Natasha/Bruce scene in the same way. All through that scene Natasha is the active one. She’s the one that’s propositioning Bruce. He then gets defensive and reveals some emotional secrets – the way he throws out the line about kids means it’s something he feels sensitive about and using that to try and get Natasha to distance herself from him. He trying to GeForce her to make the decision about their relationship. But instead of following his script, she trades an emotional intimacy of her own; she can’t have children so he can’t use that as an excuse. Oh, and FYI, it was done as part of some pretty monstrous conditioning. Yet here she is working through that and she wants a relationship with him, so why doesn’t he stop thinking of why this won’t work and meet her half way… She’s the active one all through that scene.
And that leads to the scene later where she chooses for him that he’ll become the Hulk, taking his agency away. It’s no wonder the Hulk chose to hang up on her…

Oh, and the they’ve transferred the Avengers Disassembled storyline from the comics to the movies. In the comics, the Scarlet Witch pretty much used her mind control powers as she did in the movie to create schisms in the Avengers, which ultimately led to Civil War…

Ashrakay

Classic ‘non-troversy’

Romigi

Dear Sara:
You may be disappointed with Black Widow. I’m not. Here’s why. My wife is the smartest person I know. She finished near the top of the class at one of the best law schools. She’s also badass. She’s almost 5 10" and could beat up many men in a heartbeat. She had developed a tumor that might have kept her from having children. She was devastated. Fortunately, the surgery to remove the tumor went well and we are expecting our first child. Wanting a child or bemoaning the loss of not being able to have a child makes my wife or Black Widow no less of a badass.
Also, people fall in love. That’s what they do. Why not have two people who have suffered horribly find comfort in one another?
Final point. Not having Black Widow toys. BS.

James

Just wait to you all see Mad Max!

David

But Black Widow didn’t have a breakdown because she couldn’t have children. That was only one thing of the many she suffered. She had a breakdown because she’s been brainwashed and programmed to be a cold hearted assassin (which she didn’t choose), and she’s been one for many years. That’s why she calls herself a monster. Plus, she’s been a badass at every moment she’s been on screen for 3/4 movies the character has appeared in. And this last one couldn’t have her doing a lot because ScaJo was pregnant (ironic, don’t you think?).

About Helen Cho.. yeah, she was mind controlled, and so was Hawkeye in the first avengers (in the first scene of the movie, at least we’ve got some time with Cho prior to the mind controlling), and so was Doctor Selvig. And she was beaten by Ultron because she is a regular human and Ultron’s a super powerful robot. Jon favreau’s character in IM2 (Happy Hogan) was beaten by Black Widow, who also tricked the god of mischieg in the first avengers movie.

About the mind control thing with Scarlet Witch… well, I’ve got no answer for that, but I really trust Whedon, from what I’ve heard he was pushing Marvel to make more female characters, so after being a feminist activist for so many years I’m going to cut the man some slack for two reasons: 1, not every single one of his works has to be a political statement, sometimes he just wants to tell a story, and 2, about 1 hour of footage was cut from the film, his original cut was about 3h 30′ so there could be a lot in there that further develops Scarlet Witch or gives us another look at Linda Cardellini’s housewive character. I’m a feminist, and I saw the film, and I loved it, and I really didn’t saw what all that twitter angry fuzz was about.

Peta

I am a woman who had serious medical issues stemming from my uterus which put me in agony for the majority of the last 15 years. Just last year I finally convinced a doctor that I should have the right to choose what happens to my body and how I live my life, and as I’ve never wanted kids I got a hysterectomy. Along this journey of over a decade I had both male and female doctors telling me that my fertility, and not my own wishes, were their number one priority. Many also told me they wouldn’t do the procedure because they believed it infringed upon my theoretical future male partner’s right to have his own biological children with me, which was obviously more important than my right to not live in constant pain. By fighting to get my hysterectomy I believe I triumphed as a feminist, and then after all the anguish, doctors belittled my decision by choosing to inform me only then, and never prior to the procedure, that I could still have my own children via a surrogate if I wished, and seemed to make light of my whole experience. My point to telling you this is that after this experience, you would think that if anyone is going to get mad about the portrayal of infertile women as being too emotional over the situation and feeling defined by their reproductive capabilities, it would be me. But on the contrary, I absolutely loved how Joss handled this situation. She was upset about not having control over her body, just like I was. I can relate to a woman grieving for a family she’ll never have, just as I grieved for the pain-free life I believed I’d never have because of a similar removal of choice. I can respect the pain of women who struggle to conceive just as many of these women I’ve met can respect what I’ve been through. Bruce Banner showed his anguish over his reproductive ability during both Avengers movies, both times to Natasha, and yet neither time caused her to have a breakdown. I was more upset at Peggy Carter’s character portrayal in the first Capt America, that seemed to show a woman can only be badass if she punches a guy in the face or shoots at him out of jealousy. You won’t however find me getting upset over the portrayal of a multi-dimensional female character I can relate to. Scarlet Witch’s lack of quippy Whedony lines just demonstrated that Joss is able to write with consistency to character, not just make every character the same flavour. Natasha’s smarts are how the men knew where to "rescue" her in the first place. And for someone who hasn’t worked out in a long time due to being in constant pain, I’m glad to see women in this film being respected for more than their action hero skills, because that makes me feel a little less inferior. Now please stop making me feel embarrassed to be a feminist, and apologise to Joss.

Benjamin

Joss Whedon is 70’s era sexist.
What’s wrong Joss? Can dish it out but can’t take it?

Tom

Think about it this way, it’s not Black Widow’s inability to have children that makes her a "monster," it’s the fact that the choice has been taken away from her. No matter how hard she tries, she will always just be "the other." Never able to move from societal periphery to center. As far as literature is concerned, the need for "normality" is something most characters go through, male or female. In fact, there’s pretty good evidence to support that the entire film is about the return to "normality" (e.g. creating Ultron so the Avengers can hang up their boots). Black Widow is neither out of her element in this film nor flailing outside of the central theme of the film.

As for Hawkeye’s wife: What else did you want out of that roll? She’s basically a single mother doing all the hard work to support her family. Her husband is gone Avenging all the time and the Avengers only cut some wood and fixed a tractor for her. Because she’s not saving the world and opts to save a family she’s less important than her husband? Plot-wise, she’s practically the only one that ties any of the plot to the "normality" everyone (except Cap) is seeking.

Wanda isn’t very rounded and doesn’t get "quippy" Whedon lines, I’ll give you that one. I would totally agree your "mind-control" point too if she hadn’t gotten into Black Widow’s mind too.

None the less, while this film isn’t shattering gender stereotypes, it certainly isn’t pandering to "patriarchal misogynists" either.

Oren

You really need to stop tearing apart everything into micromeanings that are purely nonexistent.
Shame on Joss Whedon? Shame on you for biting off the head of one of your most avid supporters for the sake of spewing the constant bullshit of latent misogyny.

Robert

It’s also crucial to point blame at indiewire for making this a "story". They love click bait. And this complete non-issue is made "real" by republishing a letter that would normally go unnoticed into recycling bin.

John

It seemed like many of the male characters had family and relationship issues– Cap had issues with missing out of true love, and that being his biggest regret. Thor was shown wrestling with giving up his career (as king of Asgard) in exchange for love. Tony Stark’s plot arcs across all his movies are about him settling down, though that didn’t come across as much here.

In the scene where this takes place, Hawkeye also is shown considering giving up his career to spend more time with family.

The answer to the question about "are the men shown worrying over the same thing?" is YES, ABSOLUTELY.

John

‘Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) does make reference to not being able to have kids, too, but it’s in more of a "well, obviously" way. ‘

Weird, you were watching a different movie than me. When I saw it, it was clear that Bruce Banner was far more broken up about not being able to have kids. He was the one who brought it up and was depressed, and Natasha was just trying to console him (despite her being pretty comfortable being the auntie to her male BF Hawkeye’s kids.)

Not so sure

Natasha and Banner were talking about having kids in a house filled with Hawkeye’s kids. Hawkeye is pretty much in the same situation as natasha, YET, Hawkeye still gets to have a family. Banner experimented on himself and turned into a green monster that only knows destruction, meanshile, Black Widow was trained to be an assassin since she was a child (obviously not her choice) and was taken her chance to have children (again, none of this is her choice). Is it really that bad if she has a breakdown for leading a life she didn’t choose especially if she’s seeing Hawkeye with a family?

In the movie, only Black Widow and Hawkeye do not have superpowers. Yet, only Hawkeye needed to be saved a bunch of times twice by women.

About Linda, she’s a FREAKING MORTAL WITH NO TRAINING, LIVING IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE WITH HER CHILDREN. What did you expect from her? I’m surprised you aren’t mentioning how her daughters didn’t do anything in the movie.

What’s the big deal with Wanda not having any quips? Even quicksilver didn’t have one (not until he got KILLED). It’s because they’re russian and they’re not that close with the Avengers, plus everything’s basically their fault. Would you rather have her killed than quicksilver, just so she could say something cool?

To be honest, I really found the women there cool and interesting. Can’t state how much I think their awesomeness is. Sadly, it seems feminists can’t even see their awesomeness and only sees their flaws.

Michael3674

Comic book superheroes are male dominated because they are geared toward men. Why do women always want to take over OUR stuff? Not everything has to be about them. I am sick and tired of this ‘femenist’ take-over of everything!!! They want every movie to either be a whiny gushy love story or for male characters to take a back seat for female characters in action movies. Men have their things and women have theirs…. We are not putting helicopters and explosions in Sex and the City so leave Avengers alone!!!!

Me

I really, really try to push for more strong female characters in movies and tv, more balancing of the objectification of the genders, and a bigger representation of actual females in the movie development industry…but this whole Black Widow thing really, really feels like a case of looking for something to complain about. The articles and comments I’ve read on this, while having some interesting points, all take it to a level that I find easily countered and gives me the really bad feeling of "why even bother?" As in, why try to put female in movies at all if people are literally always going to find a big problem with them? There’s no need for people to "settle" for garbage they are spoon fed, but it’s also dangerous to make the industry feel like they should just avoid female roles altogether because there is a good chance you’ll piss someone off. I find this unreasonable, I’m sorry.

Joshua Berkau

Like Riley says, third wave feminists suck! This is total malarkey! BW is a WOMAN! She will have the biological drives and feelings that women have. A major drive they have is one towards motherhood. Even if she doesn’t want children at all, its something that she will regret at the very least becuase it takes away a hope she might have had. I just saw the movie, so I remember what she said very well, and its interesting to note that she dwells more the the fact that the sterilization was rape like than she does on the fact she can’t have children. As for SW, how the heck is her mind powers a patriarchy thing? First, everyone (including all of my female friends) i know hates the idea of being mind raped by a stranger. Second, if this whole mind power thing is annoying to you because of the way it continues the trope of ‘Men Smash, Women Shoot’, that’s sad. It’s a biological fact that women are physically smaller and weaker then men (on average, I would not ever want to cross Ronda Rousey). Just becuase you’re so insecure in your womanhood (see what i did there? ;-)) it doesnt mean you can dictate good story telling and scientific fact.

A.J.

First off, if you know comics, you know movies are NEVER 100% accurate. Widow has a son with Captain America, Hulk also has a son in the Planet Hulk story line named Skarr. All the Avengers have kids, please please stop talking if knowledge of these characters is solely based on these 2 movies. You have NO IDEA what you’re talking about in the case at all. Thank you for wasting your time & making feminists look worse then they already do. Go read the comics before standing on your Internet soap box to complain about something you’re very poorly educated on it seems.

Alex

What in the world are you talking about? Her "mini breakdown" was very obviously about the fact that she was trained to be an assassin and had murdered dozens of people for evil causes before switching sides and joining SHIELD. Anyone who thinks it was because she can’t become pregnant is a complete moron.

Joshua Berkau

Like Riley says, third wave feminists suck! This is total malarkey! BW is a WOMAN! She will have the biological drives and feelings that women have. A major drive they have is one towards motherhood. Even if she doesn’t want children at all, its something that she will regret at the very least becuase it takes away a hope she might have had. I just saw the movie, so I remember what she said very well, and its interesting to note that she dwells more the the fact that the sterilization was rape like than she does on the fact she can’t have children. As for SW, how the heck is her mind powers a patriarchy thing? First, everyone (including all of my female friends) i know hates the idea of being mind raped by a stranger. Second, if this whole mind power thing is annoying to you because of the way it continues the trope of ‘Men Smash, Women Shoot’, that’s sad. It’s a biological fact that women are physically smaller and weaker then men (on average, I would not ever want to cross Ronda Rousey). Just becuase you’re so insecure in your womanhood (see what i did there? ;-)) it doesnt mean you can dictate good story telling and scientific fact.

Gary

Scarlet Witch is by far one of the most powerful characters yet seen in the MCU, and the mind control thing was only used in the first half of the film. Thereafter we see her use telekinesis and hexes, which increase in power till she’s able to literally rip Ultron’s heart out and crush it, and then even fly.

Jonathan

The Scarlet Witch was also telekinetic… and badass. The same as Jean Gray from X-men. Why is this a problem? She didn’t need to have a bunch of one liners. She wasn’t a part of the team yet, so she wouldn’t just be bantering with them after trying to kill them. She and her brother had a much more serious outlook than that. I have a feeling she will develop more in later films after she’s become a solid part of the team.
Also, Natasha was trying to relate to Bruce and let him know that he wasn’t the only one who was "not normal". Her comments about being a monster were in the context of being sterilized as a weapon, not simply because she couldn’t have kids. If that option was forcibly taken from her as a part of her training/graduation, of course she could harbor some regret. The choice isn’t hers now, it was made for her in order to made her a more effective killing machine. Also, this "mini-breakdown" happened right after the team had their butts handed to them, and the Scarlet Witch had dragged up all of those old memories. So, yeah, it did not seem out of character, particularly with her finally letting down some of her walls with Banner and trying to have a relationship with him on some level. I doubt she would have had this conversation with anyone else on the team.

joe

You are the kind of person who gives feminism a bad name. The hate and mockery it receives are because of you. You should be ashamed. Incredibly pathetic. You need to experience some real gender oppression because this couldn’t be further from it

roosevelto

If i don’t remember wrong, the thing about Widow is about her relationship with Hulk. Bruce says (with his very sory face) something like i can’t be the man you want, i can’t raise a family. And she told him her story (with just the same sory face) so he could knew she is not that stereotyped woman, she doesn’t want a normal life with kids and everything, and neither she can (just like Bruce). So they are the same, he doesn’t have to worry about her, he just should worry about his feeling (Do i want to dissappear with her?)

Thomas

People like you are a disease. No one cares what you think about anything

Natalia Higginson

You paranoid misandrist, lady)))

Joe

This Letter is by far the stupidest thing I have ever f*ckig read in my life. Are you serious? some women are so damn clueless it amazes me.

Erin M

Wow
I do not even know where to start. This blog is pure rubbish.
You also need to do more research om Scarlett Witch- being the daughter of Magneto, her powers altered other characters reality. Whedon stayed true.
As for Black Widow; you do realize her character slept around in the comics right? I mean her lamenting over the fact she can not have kids is less sexist than having her written as a sex-kitten.
Did you do ANY research?

I guess it is not enough that every female in the Marvel universe is a strong one- yes, even the barefoot and pregnant wife of Hawkey (you want a strong female? Try parenting all by yourself.

See, the men are pretty much one dimensional in these films; the have muscles and they beat people up. The woman represent a variety of the females in the real world:
CEO
SPY
MOM-WIFE
Astrophysicists
Army brass
Need I go on?

You are so off the mark here with the feminism stuff, in fact you pretty much give feminism a really bad name.

Nikolai

If you do not read the comics, or know what they are about, then please do not comment on what you can and cant do in these films. Joss delivered a hugely entertaining summer blockbuster that I as a Marvel comics fan thought was very true to the source material.

keith

Definitely reading a little too much into this. It’s a superhero movie. Hulks, robots, and flying suits of armor are all acceptable. But Black Widow voicing regret from her past and trying to connect with someone is too hard to believe? You say you saw and "liked" the first Avengers film. Natasha feels she is a monster because of the "red on her ledger", not because she can’t have children. Maybe if you weren’t so busy feeling fake outrage over something a fictional character said in a superhero movie you would have realized this.

Ben Mahoney

HAHA OMG its a MOVIE!! You’re never happy are you? If it was pure super hero robot killing you would be angry that you cant relate to the women characters anyway! go die in a hole you putrid trash

P.S nice censoring with the whole "spammy comment" stuff, how typical of a lower life form :)

Chris

Okay first off, Scarlet Witch was a sick character , she wasn’t just messing with peoples minds, she was ripping apart ultron bots all over the place at the end, her powers varied greatly. Shes more of a stoic kind of character, so having witty joking dialogue would be out of character, not every character in the movie has to be written in that way ffs.

You criticize the fact that black widow contemplates being able to have children in one scene, one measly scene, while hawkeye has two children and another on the way. I mean he’s a busy guy too right? That’s what his entire character arc is centered around in this movie and that has a shitload of scenes, oh but Natasha can’t think about it one time eh?
Oh and are you saying women aren’t allowed to be housewives, are you saying motherhood is not a strong and respectable way to live your life? By making statements like that you are ironically being repressive to women. This lady has to balance raising her children with keeping them safe from potentially really dangerous situations, that’s definitely a respectable strong female character, and a unique character type in the marvel catalogue.

So many double standards, this "rule of thumb" that Caitlin Moran dreamed up is utter bullshit. Don’t you see, your cherry picking little bits and trying to arrange them in a way that appears sexist, yet you fail to see the big picture. Your arguments lack context, you have no real observations your just grasping at straws. It’s time to turn off this feminist radar thats been lying to you, go step out of that box youve trapped yourself in and see the world for how it really is.

jacker

So let me get this straight – according to this "letter" women are not and won’t ever be allowed again, to do ANYTHING simply connected to their biology, because some of it has been detected as a typical "women in the movies trope" in the past? If you (the author) are serious, I wonder if you even paid attention to what was going on in the movie? Shouldn’t feminism be all about EQUAL rights? Cause I don’t see any difference in the depiction of Bruce Banner and the Black Widow in the THE AVENGERS 2. Both have to deal with psychological issues, both refer to themselves as a monster. Thing is: Widow tells a long story about being trained as a professional killer and in the end simply is sad about not being able to have kids after THEY ALL SAW THE POSITIVE EMOTIONS HAWKEYE GETS FROM BEING A FATHER. IF nowadays it’s sexist to have a potential couple (Banner and Widow) being sad about not being able to have kids, then this is all going incredibly in teh wrong direction. If all this was coming from nowhere in teh movie I’d get the point, but 1) it’s a simple reaction to the family life they just witnessed and 2) the thing Natasha says about "being a monster" refers to the whole "trained to be a killer" speech!

Alan

Wow, you seriosuly have shit in your head. I bet if the scene where tony and capt were chopping wood was the other way around, and There was a girl chopping wood you would be bitching about "why isnt a man doing that? Thats a lot of hard work for a poor and delicate woman"

And i’m pretty sure that you’re the kind of double-standards feminazis that were shitting your pants all excited to go to se 50 shades of Grey movie

Joel

Given that black widow was by far the most 3 dimensional character with some excellent contradictions in her character, a supreme killer who out performed everyone else but who secretly yearns for the things most other women yearn for: motherhood, love, a soul mate, gingham etc (OK not gingham, that’s a cheap shot), why is she any different to Jeremy Renner’s character? What her character is saying is: a woman can hold her own amongst supermen as the most scary efficient killer but at her core she shares both the power to soothe the savage beast that no amount of male testosterone can beat AND have desires that normal women have without that being a weakness. Hardly a message of repression.

Josh

Okay let’s get one thing straight. Marvel comic books were for men. While girls played with barbies in the past boys read comic books. Your letter is the same as me contacting the director of twilight or magic mike and saying that the male characters should act more feminine. It’s great that we have come to an age where women can enjoy video games, and comic movies and be geeks but you play in our world and you leave it the hell alone! What irks me the most of about feminists is your drive to change everything to suit women almost like being dictators of the world. Did you know more women get hired at jobs than men? There are actually tons of things that women have an advantage at but NO you want more. You want video game women to have smaller breasts because it offends your gender, but that is what guys grew up on and it offends me that you want to change that. If you didn’t like the movie tough. There was no reason to write a letter about it.

Dan

Our opinions in the world today will never be 100% Yay or Nay. I’m really sad as to the degree of anger these days that comes out in blogs and tweets. I will say this though, Scarlett Johansson in real life was actually pregnant during filming of this movie. How many action scenes would you like in her condition. Yes you could use a double but as the demand for real action from stars grows from die hard fans you can’t place her in risky shots. You will notice that most stunts where actually CGI. Also her scene with Dr Banner about not being able to have children was on one side the reality of being a KGB spy. It was also a sympathetic shoulder to the Hulk .. “Hey you think your life is tough take a good look at mine” kind of situation. It was not “Hey I want to have babies because that’s what all females do” Totally Wrong!! . Scarlet Witch was the one who ripped out Ultrons Heart, not ironman, Capt America or Thor, that was Badass. As a character she is going to grow, you’ve seen nothing yet!! But in the end one of the my favourite female characters of all time is coming “ Captain Marvel” and her powers make the Hulk look like Humphrey Bear.

Raymond

Oh look, another example of a feminist desperately searching for something to be offended about! What a breath of fresh air! Sarah, let’s do what you should have done before penning this bias trash and examine other possibilities beyond misogynistic outrage:

Short on female cast members: This is a movie about the Avengers, this particular version made up of a majority of men. The movie is about them, not about the extras. If you want to see a movie about women, go see another movie, just as when I want to see a movie about World War 2, I don’t watch Star Wars. Not every movie can be about all things, stop being selfish.

BW upset that she can’t have kids: I find this amazing that feminists can simultaneously bemoan 1 dimensional female characters, and then complain that a female character is not just "focussed on avenging". If you were paying attention at all to the movies, it has shown that BW doesn’t like her role in life. She did evil things for the KGB and so she tries to atone by working for Shield, where she still does evil things but for the greater good. So if she doesn’t want to do evil things anymore, does it not follow that the best way to do that is to leave the Avengers and Shield and have a normal life? This, for many people, includes having kids, and yet again her old life rears its ugly head and prevents her from one aspect of that normal life, and that’s why she is having that ‘breakdown’ as you call it, because no far how she runs, she can’t get away from her past. Strangely, it seems you would prefer that BW is simply a female Hulk (ironic on so many levels) who thinks of nothing beyond killing bad guys (emphasis on the ‘guys’), and doesn’t exhibit any humanity beyond being able to talk.

"Are the men doing it/worrying about it": So because the men (not to mention every other character in the movie, including the female ones) DON’T have this particular character point, it’s somehow sexist because she does? So Fury has lost an eye, he’s the only one who is physically ‘disadvantaged’, does that make everyone else ableist? Of course not, unless you’re a feminist and to say so fits your rhetoric.
But let’s examine this closely: Hawkeye has kids, but his burden is protecting them, so they live in an old shack in witness protection. Great life right? Captain America is 70 years old and the woman he loves is a geriatric. Sure, he can (probably) have kids (we don’t know, he’s never had the privilege of settling down addressed in any depth), but as seen at the end of Ultron, he decides that he wants to keep making the world safer and forgoes the right to settle down. Hulk was discussed in the movie, he can’t have kids either, but it wasn’t a "Well, obviously", it was "I can’t have kids either". There is no clarification or qualification that can make that truth any less painful, and you dismissing it because it fits your female victim rhetoric is pathetic. That one alone should blow your stupid little test out of the water, because out of everyone actively discussing it, there is precisely 1 man and 1 woman discussing it, and they have the same problem. If that isn’t "equality", pick up a dictionary. Tony Stark and Thor both have their respective love interests, but again, their ability to have children is never discussed because their ONLY reason for being, as portrayed in this film, is to beat up bad guys (again, emphasis on ‘guys’). So you have the audacity to complain that BW has more than one dimension as a character? Wake up to yourself!

"Keeping the home fires burning": Ah, the trap that so many feminists fall in to: what if this is her choice? Do some women who are pregnant not stay home from work and take care of themselves prior to the baby? Is this so unrealistic in a movie full of superheroes? Further, you mention the two men chopping wood. Gosh, I wonder who chops wood when Hawkeye’s wife is the only one around (and not pregnant? I don’t know, do you chop wood when you’re pregnant?) God forbid the house crashers do something nice for a pregnant woman and her husband (their friend) in return for sanctuary! If that’s the life she chooses, then let her do it! It’s the choice that matters, or did your particular brand of feminism forget that women are intelligent human beings who can make their own choices?

Agent Hill and Dr Cho: again, this movie is about the Avengers, not "the people who happen to be around while the Avengers are doing stuff". There was one goofy guy working on the helicarrier whose only role in the movie was to be a stupid goofball, but you don’t seem to care about that? Nor the multitudes of male baddies who only existed to get beaten up or killed. By those standards, walking around with a clipboard and a non-fatal beating are cake walks. AND THEN you have the gall to complain that there still aren’t enough female wall flowers, and ask why Natalie Portman and Gweneth Paltrow couldn’t show up and have about as much screen time as the two women you were complaining about a paragraph before! You are quite literally complaining that there aren’t enough useless female cameos for you to complain about!

Scarlet Witch: so being mind controlled (having your free will taken away) isn’t a fear of yours? Oh right, your feminism believes that women don’t have any free will already, so that makes sense. Furthermore, you are literally complaining that this woman has a power that scares men (it should be "scares people in general" but your general sexism has been sufficiently proved already). She is a powerful woman, she can control things and people (even demigods) with her mind, and you don’t like it! What kind of feminist are you? Not a good one by any measure. You don’t even care to go into her bravery in standing up to the robots, the death of her brother, or her getting revenge on Ultron. Probably because you like simple, one-dimensional she-hulks who can only think "smash".

No quippy dialogue for SW: Really? Your complaint is that she’s too serious? Her brother didn’t get any quippy dialogue (beyond being an overconfident and superpowered young male) either, maybe it has something to do with the fact that their parents were killed when they were children and they have been emotionally traumatised and are deeply angry? But no, disregard all that, they need to be FUNNY! Because female characters are somehow less if they’re serious, right? It’s not like Agent Carter or Black Widow had snappy dialogue in Captain America 1 and 2, it’s not like Pepper Potts had snappy dialogue in Iron Man 2 and 3, no, this film they were serious, we can’t have that!

You talk about the recalcitrant sexism in comic books. To be honest, I’m having a hard time finding evidence of how you are not a raging sexist against both men AND women. The men are less than human to you, either ignored or berated for being who they are, and the women are only valued if they are one dimensional, funny masculine ass kickers, and if they deviate from this role at all, you have the gall to call it sexist.

Seriously, take a good long look at yourself, and feel ashamed.

Johann

My goodness. This article is out of control. What’s wrong with the Black Widow feeling sad that she can’t have children anymore? This is part of our evolutionary makeup. What’s wrong if there was a housewife who is pregnant in the move? Women can’t be full time moms now? What’s wrong with the Avengers being 90% men? That’s how the Avengers have been for the longest time! And they are slowly changing that with Scarlet Witch and Captain Marvel… and even a female Thor!

EMILY

I understood Black Widow’s belief that shes a monster as in all of the horrible things shes done before joining SHIELD. She was a KGB assassin known for eliminating her enemies efficiently and violently. She was trained as a kid to murder. Obviously it isnt wrong to believe that being a contract killer is monstrous. That was my interpretation, I believe you’re maybe just trying to make an argument here based on your feminist agenda.

yerocyt

I dont think black widow thinking about the fact she can’t have children is sexist, she may not have wanted kids this is true but the fact that the choice was taken away from her is her issue amd as for the depiction of hawkeyes wife as a homemaker is that really sexist? Have we come to the point where any depicton of a woman choosing to be a housewife is a terrible thing?

Bloto

The main characters are cap, thor, ironman, widow and hawkeye, not maria hill or fury. I mean i would have been disappointed if we had got more maria hill for the sake of equality on screen time. I would have understood this criticism if we were talking about the Captain Marvel movie or wonder woman, where it would make sense to criticize the lack of ambition in the characters not related to past gender roles. Maybe having your uterus pulled out is a traumatic experience, and yeah while is implied she has an inherent sadness for not being able to have children, maybe its just a character written like that to serve as a reason for both to be connected (If incredible hulk is cannon, bruce cant have an erection without hulking out). I get he could have thought of something different, but the movie was not evil, or even harmful, widow is a mere mortal and she is respected for her skills inside the team. For a woman story, use woman characters, and then this topics become essential. But for Age of Ultron i find these view highly unnecessary.

bluebeezle

explain to me how adding Pepper and Jane to a movie in which they aren’t relevant is a good idea, just for a body count. explain to me why having black widow be a one dimensional stoic makes for an interesting character. you want all these things not relevant to the plot to sing the praises of all the strengths these female characters have. in what action movies have you scene genetic scientists steal the show?
if you have a complaint, let it be that there isn’t equal representation in superheroes. THAT is the problem. because when you have only one or two women, they have to shoulder representing the entire gender instead of being a character.

Chris

Why should writers and directors have to cater to opinions, it’s there story to tell, they shouldn’t have to modify there creation so that it caters to appease all audiences, i don’t see people jumping up and down about the original comics, chanting for recalls and re-wrights, if you don’t like it don’t buy/watch/read it. Or better yet rather than whining about it how bout you write your own story…. oh what’s that ? your only talent is criticizing others for not living up to your radical ideals and unrealistic expectations …!

Richard Bradley

There is a lot of hate on the internet about Black Widow being domesticated in AoU. So I am going to address this.
1. The comments about her being the only one not afraid of her dark past are erroneous. She mentioned several times in Avengers about how much red was in her ledger. The Loki scene could be seen as her lying about her remorse, however that is not my take. The most believable lie is one that contains truth. Nat knows this, it is easier to manipulate if you come across a genuine. I believe that she did have remorse for past actions and if you read the comics she does. Last year Nat, Clint, and Spider-Woman went to Russia to clear off some of her remorse by helping people she had wronged. It is not out of character to feel remorse.
2. So what if she got upset about not having children? Lots of people have traumatic things happen to them that they learn to live with. They build armor around that event they accept it and they move on. You know what those people don’t have to live with? A super powered assailant that makes you relive that tragedy. Makes you witness the horror that you had repressed and built scabs over by ripping the scabs off and serving it to you raw and open. Pretty sure that would upset anyone. She’s human.
3. Comments about her being fulfilled now that she’s found a man. GET OVER YOURSELF. There is nothing wrong with feminism. There is nothing wrong with romance. The two concepts are compatible. Feminists fall in love. This is not news. Strong females do not become weak by falling in love. Grow up.

Steve

Holy Christ do you sound like a keyboard warrior. It’s like you didn’t listen to any of Natasha’s speech

Skaathar

So… a woman should not feel bad about her not being able to have children? And here I thought feminism was about giving women the right to choose and be comfortable with their sexuality. Now you think that just because men can’t have children that women should also not care about having children? That’s just plain dumb.

Plus, please get it in your head that Black Widow is not one of the main Avengers… which means she will not get the same amount of time and development as Thor, Captain America or Tony Stark. At least Black Widow has had more development than Hawkeye.

And while you’re moaning about Maria Hill, remember that she’s a side character and she has about as much screen time as Nick Fury.

Mark

Woah! Lots of comments on here. Too lazy to read all of them, so I’ll assume that everyone has made the comments I was going to make/alienated each other.

I hope the Russo brothers help make things more universal and that Marvel boots their current CEO.

Kris Stout

Largo

Jara

And regret you can´t have children is wrong how? It doesn´t make her weaker or something, because….believe it or not, there are women who *want* children. You are making a fuzz about something that doesn´t exist. And I love me some great female characters but this madness has gone too far.

Nellie

Black Widow’s CHOICE on whether or not she could have children was taken away from her. THAT is the center of that scene. She doesn’t know if she would have wanted to be a mom or not as someone else decided for her. THAT is something that feminists should be talking about, not whether or not she wants to be a mom

Cmars

I have seen a lot of hate for Whedon for the whole "sterilization" conversation Black Widow had in AOU, but from my perspective having that kind of back story makes Widow more relatable. Regardless of how "super" she is, she is still a woman and not being able to have children would probably have an impact on her and how she views herself. It doesn’t make her a baby crazy psycho “bemoaning” anything. It makes her a woman who has lost a piece of herself, but keeps fighting anyway – something that a lot of women probably can relate and aspire to.

I would argue that suggesting she remain the static, sexy female superhero trope is more misogynistic than allowing her to have a rich and detailed back story rooted in something that is very unique to the female experience.

Tim

This is hilarious. Thanks for the laughs.

HeyoMayo

I would love to see you create and market the ideal feminist superhero story and see how much traction it gets. But, of course, leave the production and story nuances open to critique from your pool of internet feminists so they can nitpick every line, and see how long it takes and far it gets you. I am a woman. I identify as an egalitarian rather than a feminist, because regardless of women being subjugated — I still believe that EVERYone deserves representation. Black Widow and Scarlet Witch are only a fraction of the female members of the Avengers roster. I’m willing to bet you can’t name a single other one. Take issue with the original creators, not Joss Whedon.

Stefan

*sigh* You make me sad. Joss is amazing. Age of Ultron was perfect. Read a comic.

Alan Stanwyck

Gisela: don’t be disappointed. The author is clearly exaggerating (and in some cases, flat-out not stating the truth and obvious of the film) in order to make a biased point. Watch the film OBSERVANTLY and see for yourself.

Kate

I agree with Max, part of the power of being a woman is having the power to chose. Her choice was made for her and it stands to reason that she would wonder, occasionally, how her life might have been different. It also stands to reason that she would bond with someone who shares her fate, a man whose choices are limited. The humanity of Black Widow compels her to contemplate what her life might have been. Your complaint here seems trite, conjured for the sake of feminism, and speaking as a feminist, it isn’t necessary.

Steve Zmijak

Why are you people bashing Joss Whedon. He is a filmmaker and story teller. He is not the new saviour for the feminist cause. Black widow is an awesome character. She is a shit kicker and she is human. She tried to relate to Banner by saying she could not have kids. Many attacks on this movie and the female characters are silly and juvenile. So Hawkeye’s wife is taking care of his children while he is out risking his life. Why is this a problem?? I believe that the author of this open letter has her own agenda and it is not male friendly. All I can suggest for this individual is do produce or direct your own version that will make you happy .

Jay Prime

This is one of the most well thought out, and well written pieces of verbal diarrhea I have ever read.

It is letters like this that serve to remind me of why modern feminism is similar to modern racism… a thinly veiled, politically correct pile of horse manure which continues to stink to high heavens.

This sums up my view on the parts of modern feminism I’ve witnessed… When you can pee standing up, then we can talk about us being equals. Until, we are not equals. This does not mean men are superior (much the way apples and oranges aren’t equal and yet not definitively better by anything other than opinion), but that men and women are different. You don’t peel apples and oranges the same way. Men and women can do the same jobs, but that doesn’t mean they’re best suited to do so. Women in general, are better suited to certain activities and things, just like men are.

Finally, Age of Ultron is one the most diverse movies EVER as far a representation. Expecting EVERY CHARACTER to have poignant and developed arcs in what is , in essence, an ensemble movie, is ridiculous. The movie was VERY Black Widow centric, but apparently that’s not enough. The author wants the women in the movie to be as important to the plot as the males, but this is NOT POSSIBLE. The Avengers are the focus, and the two female Avengers receive a TON of screen time and focus.

I assume the author also suggests that women should no longer be housewives and mothers, by asserting that their was a problem with a skilled actress playing that role.

Dear radical feminists, please do your research about the REAL feminist movement started by women like Harriet Tubman. You views are similar to people like David Duke, that think that as long as they aren’t offensive, their misguided, useless ideals have value.

False.

WTF

Wait your blaming Joss Whedon for not securing TWO HUGE cameo’s ??? You do realize Loki got cut out of this movie as well.

Christie

Goodnight…are you kidding me? So because Black Widow had an emotional moment (I wouldn’t call it a mini-breakdown this is a horrible movie? It was a great movie, and if you were looking for something that wasn’t testosterone laden, really, Avengers?? You did see the first movie right? I thought it gave her some depth, seeing some emotion…it actually makes a character seem more realistic…

Jake

Was this a serious article or a joke? I was tempted to reply but the argument doesn’t even make sense.

Andromeda18_

Maybe you don’t think so, but a lot of women don’t have a "oh well, attitude" when it comes to not being able to have children. I speak as someone who couldn’t care less about having children. I’ve never wanted to have children and that feeling hasn’t waned one bit with the passage of time. However, I look around me and all I see are women who adore children and can’t conceive of the idea of not having children of their own. I’m the oddball and I know it (and don’t give a damn). So, it seems to me the Black Widow’s breakdown is actually quite believable. Could they’ve have written her as a woman that doesn’t care about that? Sure, but making a female character sad over not being able to have children isn’t wrong either. And why is it such a bad thing to be sad over that? Aren’t women allowed to want children and be sad when they can’t just because men don’t feel the same? A woman isn’t strong because she’s okay with not having children, just as she isn’t weak if she really wants to have them. The "are the men doing it" rule is an empty one. How about looking at people as individuals? We don’t all have to want the same things, or feel the same way, men or women. I know plenty of men who really want children (or wanted before having them), and I actually have one family member who suffers from depression because he’s already in his 40’s and hasn’t managed to build a family and have children.

The movie sucks because it does, there’s no need to nitpick like this.

ReverendSpaceman

This is a load of bullshit brought on by over-sensitive tumblr feminism that looks for sexism where it isn’t.

Connor

Uhhh Banner straight up is just as sad as Black Widow and it’s because his "disease" makes it impossible for him to have a normal life. He and Black Widows scenarios are mirror images of one another, and the scene is there to show that they may actually be a decent fit for each other emotionally.
God damn, if you’re digging for sexism you’ll find it anywhere.

It is absurd to look at Scarlet Witch’s powers and just SAY "it feels like it’s dreamed up by men." Feels like you’re reaaalllly reaching on that one. There are many charaters in the Marvel universe who control people’s minds – male and female alike.

Take a step back and enjoy a good movie. Take off your blinders, you yourself admit multiple times in this article that Joss is known for writing strong characters. Why choose to assume he has consciously neglected to do so? Your evidence is nowhere near justified enough to really back up this point.

Reaching, reaching, reaching.

JOS

Disclaimer: I have not yet seen Age of Ultron. With that said, while this article is disheartening to read through, I have to speak up for Joss a little. Everything Marvel is doing right now — the abundance of movie phases, etc. — is so incredibly planned out, I imagine Joss only has limited control over what happens in his movies — and what makes it into the actual finished product. Yes, he writes and directs, but Marvel is VERY specific in what they’re doing. Perhaps Joss had a different vision for certain female characters, but Marvel wouldn’t let him do everything he wanted/needed to do because it didn’t fit their perimeters, their time frame, their priority list…? All I’m saying is it’s not all on Joss. I think he IS a feminist, but this movie isn’t Serenity. It isn’t his own TV show. It’s only part of a much bigger world. It’s a shame you don’t watch SHIELD. I consider that part of the Whedon-verse and there are a lot of great, strong female characters there.

And for the record, my initials are JOS, yes… also, I’m a girl.

david

this is a movie about a talking robot and people that can fly .

Alan Stanwyck

Oh, where to begin, honestly?
So, um, we need to talk about "Avengers: Age of Ultron." I had my doubts when I saw one bombastic, testosterone-soaked trailer after another make its way around the internet, but I tempered my reaction with a soothing refrain of, "But it’s Joss Whedon. They’re just not showing the smart parts. That’s not what trailers are about." I really liked the first "Avengers" movie, for the record. I thought it was intelligent and funny and, OK, short on women — but at least you had Black Widow, which was kind of new and exciting in a landscape that had been uniformly male for forever. That was progress, I thought, upon which you would capitalize in the next film.The disappointing treatment of Scarlett Johansson’s character in the sequel (and, for that matter, beforehand) has already been examined in an excellent Daily Beast piece by Jen Yamato, so I won’t retread everything she’s said. But I would like to add, did we really need Natasha to have a mini-breakdown over the fact that she can’t have children? Haven’t we gotten to a point where the one lonely female superhero in our current landscape can just pursue the business of avenging without having to bemoan not being a mother? Caitlin Moran, help me out here"

Natasha was having a mini-breakdown because of the fact that she feels she has no place in the world, can’t erase the sins of her past and, yes, felt violated by the fact that she was sterilized against her will. It wasn’t that she was breaking down SIMPLY because she can’t have children. She was breaking down because she had put that part of her past BEHIND her but the scar had been reopened, forcing her to feel a pain she thought she’d left behind. It’s not like she was born with the inability. It was FORCED upon her. Like a rape. Like a violation. Surely you can use your imagination to come to that conclusion without the film’s dialogue having to force feed it to you. Perhaps not.

"I have a rule of thumb that allows me to judge, when time is pressing and one needs to make a snap judgment, whether or not some sexist bullshit is afoot. Obviously, it’s not 100% infallible but by and large it definitely points you in the right direction and it’s asking this question; are the men doing it? Are the men worrying about this as well? Is this taking up the men’s time? Male superheroes generally don’t have kids, which makes sense; it’d get in the way of their superheroing. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) does make reference to not being able to have kids, too, but it’s in more of a "well, obviously" way. Couldn’t it just be the same for women? For this rather busy woman, anyway?"

It’s not like Bruce Banner is any more happy about his inability to love, be loved, or live a normal life. Look at how distraught he was after his rampage in South Africa. Or the tension in his jawbone, sadness on his face, and total look of being "lost" when he speaks to Natasha in the farmhouse. Unbelievable that you somehow missed all of his angst as well but decide- for the purpose of writing yet another "Internet outrage" article, seemingly -to focus on Natasha’s "failings as a character". Aces.

"Black Widow, unfortunately, is only the tip of the iceberg. Let’s take a look at all the other female characters in ‘Age of Ultron.’ You got Linda Cardellini — Lindsay goddamn Weir! — in your movie, and you made her a housewife. As Hawkeye’s secret spouse (he’s kept his family in some sort of superhero protection program, apparently), she is literally pregnant and in the kitchen for most of her screen time. Sure, she dispenses some womanly words of wisdom and lets the Avengers crash in their Pottery Barn-tastic farmhouse, but seriously? That is some reductive gender shit right there. She is literally keeping the home fires burning. (How do I know this? Because there’s a lengthy scene in which two male Avengers show off their muscles chopping firewood.)"

What the hell was she SUPPOSED to do? Jump in, suit up, and join the fight? What would someone in hiding do if they needed to exist secretly to protect their identify and life? Take off to the city every day and leave the children behind? Or with a sitter who could reveal everything to someone who is potentially a threat? How do you know that Linda’s character doesn’t have some sort of business on the side? Because you didn’t see it, right? Therefore, it must not exist (since your imagination seems, once again, to be failing you). How do you know she isn’t perfectly content to exist in the capacity of a loving wife and mother? There are SOME who are content to make that choice and, believe it or not, are happy and do NOT feel like they are failures as women for choosing that lifestyle. Are you so full of indignant urges and rage that you can’t simply see that there are some who are different than you and are FINE with that?

"And let’s talk about the support staff at the new state-of-the-art Avengers building. Cobie Smulders is on hand again as Maria Hill, a high-ranking officer in the establishment who seems to do nothing but walk around with a clipboard, wear tight black pantsuits and have the occasional chastising Skype session with our heroes (I’m not watching ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,’ so maybe she’s tearing it up there, but you can’t count on moviegoers to know these things). And Claudia Kim plays Dr. Helen Cho, who can apparently do brilliant things with genetics but mostly just gets mind-warped by the villainous Ultron and, later, beaten up by him."

Maria Hill DOES play an extended role in the "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D" series…and even if one didn’t know that, they’d be able to see that Hill has, clearly, been doing more- behind-the-scenes -than even Tony Stark is aware of. She’s been working in secret with Nick Fury to try and keep the IDEA of S.H.I.E.L.D. alive so that when they are needed (in the finale and otherwise), they can be prepared and ready to act. Perhaps you missed the line where Tony Stark says to Fury, "Hill’s all yours. Apparently she always was." (or something to that extent) Implication: "Me, Tony Stark, actually kept in the dark by my assistant, Maria Hill, and working for you all the time, Fury. You secretive jerk. But awesome for her, you, and the world that she is." And then there was the whole scene where Hill is helping to pilot the Hellicarrier that rescues thousands of innocent Sokovians in the finale of the film. Or the bit where Hill jumps to action when one of Ultron’s minions crashes into the Hellicarrier and threatens innocent lives: she doesn’t cringe or scream…she snaps up into a fighting stance, unloads a clip of 9mm slugs into the thing, and clearly has the situation mostly under control until Nick Fury delivers the killing blow (they had to give Jackson something heroic to do as well, mind you…it wasn’t an anti-feminism decision to have Fury make that move instead of Hill…so don’t start). Seems there’s a lot you missed but…when one seems to wear blinders as large as the ones you’re wearing because it allows them to rage on, I’m not surprised you did.

Helen Cho does get mind-warped. But doesn’t she also make sure that Ultron can’t continue with his evil plan (at least temporarily)? Doesn’t she end up as an important part of the New Avengers (as evidenced by the finale where she’s setting up shop and barking commands in the new Avengers facility in upstate New York)? A LOT of people got played and mind-warped by Loki in the first film (all men, if memory serves correctly). But, one woman gets the treatment in this film and it’s a diving board for you to attack, right?

"Early on, both women look like a million bucks at the superhero cocktail party, of course. And it’s at this party where both Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) brush off the lack of appearances from their significant others — Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) — by making brief, competitive mention of how the ladies are too busy out there changing the world to show up. OK, but either of those characters would really have upped the quotient of substantive females onscreen in this nearly two-and-a-half-hour sausage-fest. Seriously, you couldn’t get Gwyneth or Natalie for a couple days?"

It’s called budget. They tried. They couldn’t afford asking prices. Try using your imagination once again to figure it out and connect the dots.

"Then there’s Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch character. Yes, she has a superpower, but it’s one that feels dreamed up by men who are terrified of women: She messes with people’s minds, dude! That’s not on you, Joss; the canon is already there, I know. No, my main beef with your treatment of Olsen is that this very talented actress gets zero quippy Whedony dialogue. There’s plenty of it elsewhere in the film, but mostly it belongs to Tony, Thor, and Cap (Chris Evans). The Hulk and Black Widow/Natasha, meanwhile, are too busy making eyes at each other in this one to be much fun."

Zero quippy dialogue? Her retort to Cap’s "If you leave now, you can walk away from this." threat is a sarcastic, rage-filled, "Oh, we will." That’s a pretty good zinger in my book. And…SURPRISE…they DO, just as she predicted. Besides which, Scarlett Witch’s character was too angst filled for quippy dialogue to be suitable coming out of her mouth at various times in the movie. It’s called staying true to the emotion and character. Something a good actress (like Olsen) wouldn’t have a problem with. But…rage on, Internet rager. Find fault where none SHOULD be found. You seem to excel at this.

Banner and Natasha are "too busy making eyes at each other in this one to be much fun"? Are you kidding me? How many great, fun lines did Natasha have during the opening battle? MANY. Or during the scene where she uses her motorcycle, skills, and intelligence to thwart Ultron’s plans? Quite a few ("I’m always picking up after you boys." "You might not wanna ask that question, Hawkeye."). And Banner had a ton of funny, amusing lines when he was working with Stark on the creation of Ultron and The Vision. Further, when he was Avenging in the opening, his character was used for amusement and fun (without dialogue since…he’s the friggin’ Hulk, people).

I won’t address the remainder of your article since I already disproved the entire basis of it, on which your "conclusion" is drawn and presented.

These things you seem to think are missing are there. As are the reasons for the so-called absences you seem to think are so misogynistic. Of course, it makes for a better "indignant rage" article if you’re either unable or unwilling to see them.

So now, what I want to know is, what’s your excuse?

Nekko

The title alone should tip you off as to how much of a rollicking, hellzapoppin’ romp this letter is, but really what I’m taking issue with is how the author approaches Black Widow’s characterization as well as the idea of ‘the housewife’. In short, the author dismisses both as ‘reductive gender bullsh * t’ as though women who *spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t seen Age of Ultron yet* grieve over the fact that they can’t have children or women who eschew careers in order to raise a family are somehow lesser than women who get angry over fictional characters.

Mrs H

A childless woman is not always an ardent feminist and a feminist is not always childless, this is a ridiculous and quite frankly offence claim that a strong woman can’t be upset that she can’t have children. Also she wasn’t bemoaning the fact she couldn’t have them as a definition of her being she was stating a reason to encourage Bruce that they can have future together – although I’m sure you find that anti feminist too – God forbid a strong independent woman should want a man at her side!!
Linda cardellini is an actress !!! and a woman who has 2 children, is pregnant and has a husband who is often away has every right to choose to be a stay at home mother – doesn’t make her weak or not a feminist – another offensive statement to be honest.
Maria was as bad ass and important as she was last time there were just more people in this movie so everyone had less airtime.
As for wanda, she did have mind control powers (pp) and she was too traumatised by her upbringing and making the wrong choice side wise to be making sharp feminist quips.
Once again an article perporting to be pro feminist but only if all feminists fit your ideal of a feminist. Not cool.

A happily married, child rearing, stay at home mother, who is strong, independent and ok with women doing what they want and not okay with ANYONE telling them they can’t be!

BF

It’s probably too late for you, Sara, but you might still want to try getting a life and not being obsessed with imaginary characters. OR you could stop buying the fantasies and dreams you are being sold and create something of your own.

Adam

Natasha wasn’t saying she was a monster for being sterile, but for being a cold-blooded murderer for 20 years. And Banner is also lamenting his inability to have kids. It was a moment they both shared their anger and sadness at not being able to have a family. I think that’s pretty fair actually. We see it from a male and female perspective.

Scarlet Witch is a bad ass. Sorry. Love her. She isn’t quipy as a character. She was pretty spot on. I’m hoping she’s better utilized in future films however.

Tyler

Wait, this isn’t satire?

Dino

Umm…what mini-breakdown?

If anything, Banner was the one having the breakdown about how he could never have a normal life. He felt like he was nothing more than a monster and the whole point of Natasha relaying her story about the Red Room was to let him know that he wasn’t alone.

She didn’t break down into tears. She didn’t talk about how she really wanted kids but couldn’t have them. In actuality, she was pretty matter-of-fact about how she couldn’t have kids. She didn’t even really express that much remorse over it.

Michael Dougherty

I’m really disappointed in this post.

You say "Male superheroes generally don’t have kids" yet that’s the whole thing Hawkeye is fighting for. He’s fighting for his family. They are in "protection" because THAT is what he values.

On more than one occasion in the film Black Widow saves the MEN in this films ass. She is also shown no needing any of them as she’s never "rescued" by a man which is the definition of a damsel in distress. You know "the woman needs to be rescued, as by a prince in a fairy tale." She is the only one who can calm Banner. She opens to him she was put through hell in her youth. She shown that she was/is strong enough to stand with the men AND have the Hulk respect her.

You even bash Banner with "Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) does make reference to not being able to have kids, too, but it’s in more of a "well, obviously" way. Couldn’t it just be the same for women? For this rather busy woman, anyway?"

Yet in the SAME SCENE Black Widow says she can’t either, because it was taken from her. And you can see by her face it’s something she wants. So your argument there collapses on itself.

"Giving characters — particularly women — snappy, juicy, reference-laden dialogue is, like, YOUR WHOLE THING. It’s what MADE you."

Natasha Romanoff: I am always picking up after you boys.
[grabs the shield off the street while racing on motorcycle, to get it back to Cap]

Maria Hill: [to Captain America] He’s fast, she’s weird.

Natasha Romanoff: [on Mjölnir] That’s not a question I need answering.

Tony Stark: It’s the end, the end of the path I started us on.
Natasha Romanoff: Nothing lasts forever.

Bruce Banner: What’s a girl like you doing in a place like this?
Natasha Romanoff: A guy did me wrong. There’ve been a lot of people in my life, all of them fighters. Then there comes this guy, who’s not like anyone I’ve ever met; he doesn’t want to be a fighter.

Natasha Romanoff: [after kissing Bruce Banner] I adore you…
[Suddenly pushes him off cliff]
Natasha Romanoff: …but I need the Other Guy.

Think the women in Age of Ultron and didn’t think the women — snappy, juicy, reference-laden dialogue…What movie were you watching?

STEPH

"Haven’t we gotten to a point where the one lonely female superhero in our current landscape can just pursue the business of avenging without having to bemoan not being a mother?"

*Can* she? Sure, but why is every female character limited to acting the way you want her to? Why can’t *this* particular character want to be a mother as part of her personality? Is there now something wrong with wanting to be a mother?

Deb

Oh i’m sorry i thought Feminism was about the *choice* to be a career or a family motivated person; that the point was women are allowed to choose their own life even if that means children, hanging out in the kitchen (which is the centre of many homes even for people without children) and they can bloody well like ordering from Pottery Barn because personal taste has nothing to do with your gender or choice of career.

I find it odd that you’re saying all this shit and then getting sour that Stark and Thor’s girlfriends didn’t rush home to be arm candy at an otherwise pointless mixer. Had they been there would you have complained about them being damsels in the subsequent fight?

dnwilliams

This is a very confusing reaction to me. There are no attacks or even devaluations of female charcters in this film, and the finale sets up a more diverse Avengers team. Black Widow was directly responding to Hulk, children were a concern for him, and it was established that Hawkeye has been able to have a family, he cares about having children too… It’s not positioned as a female concern, it’s a superhero concern that just happens to have tragic origins. The criticism of Scarlet Witch’s powers are just as odd – we don’t judge Obi-Wan or Professor X for doing the same. And I would have thought that featuring a couple female superheroes and a female scientist would make it okay to portray a full time parent, which is far from a shameful thing. I get wanting to avoid typical gender roles where possible, but there are other female characters here. I also love that Jane and Pepper have lives that don’t revolve around their men!

Joe

Yeah, you are a fool. Yes, Widow getting captured was cliche. So what? Wanda rips Ultron’s heart out. She, a woman, kills the big bad. Yet, you complain about Widow getting second billing. They all got second billing due to how many people that were in it. The main complaint from Avengers One was Hawkeye was useless, here is a bad ass.

Wandas’s powers are whatever the writers wanted them to be. She is the Superman of the Marvel Universe. Joss giving her mind control is not unheard of considering she wiped out an entire universe in House of M. Seeing illusions not the most out there power she has ever had. Perhaps, the feminist movement needs to stop attacking their allies and focus in on the stupidity of Jurassic World or how Ant Man is going to minimize Wasp or that DC is never going to make a Wonder Woman movie. Ever.

Bashing Joss for making Widow a human character with flaws is stupid. Joss writes human characters that goes for both genders. That is why his characters are great. You want them to be something else what I don’t know or care. I am just happy to see all of these characters get fleshed out and be as memorable as they were in the comics.

Elizabeth

I don’t think Natasha chose to be an assassin. In Agent Carterit was made very clear girls were chosen for training.
I am also confused by the cries of misogyny and sexism. First, I don’t think her relationship with Banner came from nowhere. Much time passed between Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron in which she spent talking him out of Beaat Mode and chatting up the man. A non-friendship relationship is bound to come from that. Second, her "emotional breakdown" when she announces her infertility is more about character than anything. Romanoff was taught from an early age that emotions are weakness, to hide them and she’s finally in a position to show them and share something deeply personal with someone who might understand. that emotional releas is called catharsis, and it’s powerful.

Panda

One of the reasons to have predominantly white male main characters is that they aren’t scrutinized. Not only does Avengers have women in it, but you go out of your way to criticize them for being the wrong type of woman. A friend of mine lost her fertility due to medical complications, and she can’t really talk about it. It was hard of her to share it with me.

The problem is this – huge budget movies are afraid to have women in them, because they will inevitably be the wrong type of woman to some feminist, and somehow the studio, director, etc. will be a sexist. Stop it.

Mary

Actually Max, believe it or not there are plenty of women who do NOT want children and do not feel unfulfilled or sad. I certainly don’t. And it wasn’t ‘her choice’ to become a spy — she was made one from childhood. She is not feeling sorry, she’s telling Bruce it’s okay and he shouldn’t either. As for people ‘expecting more’ or anything along that ilk, go grab a run of Avengers from the 70s and read them. This is a comic book movie, not social commentary. Including big splashy fights, dramatic gestures and shit that makes no sense.

Erica

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not one to criticize my fellow woman. But it’s a freaking movie!! There are REAL LIFE situations out there that deserve more of your attention than this movie. Yes, it’s unfortunate that shallow things like movies and television are shaping today’s society. Why don’t we shed light on more important matters other than fictional characters?

Craig Baker

having a wife who is unable to conceive, I think the removal of her ability to have children was very traumatizing to her. Whedon also doesnt have unfettered artistic license, he has to work both in what the studios want and what marvel wants. AND because of that, he speaks out, publicly, against it. You may see it as lip service, I see it as frustration coming from him.

Matt

I can’t beleive you can be this nit picky over feminism.
Joss Whedon has been a power house when it comes to strong female characters! He’s done more than almost any other major director in hollywood.
And yet on this one project, and probably the project where he had the least creative control in his career, you are calling him out? It’s hardly the worlds most sexist movie of all time, it’s simply not Whedon’s most feminist movie.
Give the guy a break, it’s clear this movie has taken a serious toll on the guy.

Jack

The substance of Tony and Thor’s debate is comparing their high-caliber girlfriends’ accomplishments. Black Widow is funny throughout and just as entitled as every male character to a love interest, and she helps rescue herself using her brain. Scarlet Witch controls minds in the comics (google House of M, to name one) and is a self-determined hero with one of the more awesome butt kicking moments in the movie.

Sad how people can’t see past their own issues to enjoy a movie.

Danny

Ok, firstly I call bullshit, Whedon is as far from sexist as possible, as proven over and over by his powerful female leads… Buffy, Willow, Zoe, Mae, Mockingbird, Skye, to name a few. The superhero world’s most well known faces are by and large male, thats a fact, not Whedon’s fault, just how it is, so he’d have to go out of his way to pick characters to 50/50 it up more. People want to see the likes of Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, the big names. Secondly, he was given an incredibly difficult task, deciding how to portray Scarlet Witch’s powers on screen. For those who don’t know, her power is to manipulate probability fields, which makes her effectively a god. She could do anything, so he has to do something to water down her powers, that’s what he chose. You can’t have an infinitely powerful character, it doesn’t work!

Yuh

Wowwww stfu. Keep looking for something to complain about.

Mayank

Its a fictional story. And about the snap judgement about sexism – that’s just bullshit. I dont think feminism is about the (non) fact that men and women are exactly the same. It is about the fact that they should have the same opportunities to pursue their (individual) instincts. Men and women are different, and its okay. Their difference may not be absolute and everybody is somewhere on the scale between the two genders (or beyond), but they are allowed to be different right ?

Eshto

An open letter to feminists:

Knock it off.

Reckard

I’m not really understanding your complaints. A character being pregnant and a housewife means she’s a reductionist stereotype? I’m sorry, do you find people being pregnant/stereotypes in real life offenseive too? I can understand mentioning it in a larger scope of womens roles in films, but it was completely fine in this one.

Also, you don’t like Scarlet Witch because Whedon didn’t give her dialogue you wanted, thus she’s sexist? What? And your reasoning for why mind control powers are sexist is basically "because I said so!"

Lastly, BW was having a mental breakdown because she was just in a freaking hell induced dream state. It made complete sense and she only mentioned it to relate to Banner, and it never made her less of a characters.

You need to stop confusing sexism with things you don’t like.

Really

Dumb ass shit I read in a while

Jeremie

What’s his excuse? Its his movie, and he probably doesn’t give two shits about what petty, trivial bullshit some sensitive feminist is offended about. You don’t like it tough shit, write your own script

Jeremie

V

Musashi

These are the concerns of warm, well-fed, White American females. The comfort, ease, wealth, and security need to go away for a while. Maybe then whining about the lack of "nuance" in a kids movie will no longer be a priority.

How about complaining about the lack of women coal-miners, oil-rig workers, ditch-diggers, and generally every crappy, dangerous, and dirty job out there instead.

Jac Cooper

I haven’t seen the movie yet and it sounds like there are some fair comments to be made about its treatment of women, but regarding Black Widow and the children thing- surely that application of the "is it sexist" rule is highly logically flawed? Firstly, from what you have said, at least one male character (and remember of the other male characters, one is an egomaniac, one is a god and one an introvert stuck in an entirely different time from his own, none likely to reflect on such an issue in character, and if they don’t have reason to believe that they can’t bear children, why would they ever fixate on it or bring it up. Hawkeye, the last one, has a pregnant wife so clearly has no need to worry on this front) has demonstrably worried about it and discussed it. More importantly, men and women ARE different and certainly think differently about many things, in general, and this I imagine is one of them. It is not sexist to imply that at the age of the characters a woman would be more likely to be deeply upset by the revelation that she couldn’t bear children than men. In my experience, as a general rule, they are more likely to worry about this. It’s a big loss of something very important and an intrinsic need for many people, and one of the few issues I feel that feminism, wonderful as it is, has is that it frequently comes across as belittling those who want to raise a family rather than have a career or live their life in some other way. And that’s a little bit how this comes across. Also, someone who knows they can’t have kids is, I reckon, a LOT more likely to fixate and comment on that than someone who doesn’t know that. It sounds to me that in this singular regard, at least, especially given Whedon’s track record that you bring up at the beginning, Whedon simply makes Black Widow more human, not a symbol of misogyny

Miguel

I think you have to be very close-minded not to realize that this is ONE film of a long career of writing great, complex, strong women. "The avengers" is a group of superheroes formed mainly by men (and certainly the men of the group are the most famous ones), so it makes sense a story about "The avengers" is male-centered. You don’t have to make all your scripts all about strong women to be feminist. Which is not to say that I think that Black Widow is weak for mourning on not being able to be a mother: motherhood is the one thing I envy the most as a man, I’d be devastated if I learnt I couldn’t be a father and I imagine it’d at least as bad if I were a woman who can’t have children. I have a mother,a sister who’s also a mother, and a girlfriend that I hope one day will be the mother of my children, and I think it’s insulting that some people associate their desire to be mothers with anti-feminism. I strongly believe that many feminists these days are forgetting that equality also implies the freedom of having a child. So I’ll be effing glad everytime I watch, read or whatever about people who can be something more than a mother. Mine definitely is.

Brian Drake

All this butt hurt over a movie makes y’all sound like the Star Wars people who hate Jar Jar. It’s just a movie! I suppose I can’t understand your POV because I don’t have a vagina, but methinks one should be his/her/its own role model rather than depending on a fictional character for inspiration. By the way, ScarJo has had a baby in real life, and if she didn’t like the take on her character she could have walked, so you have to hate your sister, too, not just Joss. Just sayin’.

blackfeminist

Did you notice the lack of black women as well or is your white privilege too strong?

Sarah

Don’t you dare call Black Widow "a weak woman" because she can’t have kids.

Gee kay

The writer of this letter is an idiot, women being superheroes is a joke. Scarlett Johansen couldn’t fight a small child let alone a grown man.

Richard

So Black widow regrets not having kids, Big deal?, So hawkeyes wife who is prengant and has a child stays at home but not because she would be in mortal danger if anyone found out her identity, not because she’s basically a single parent, nah it has to be sexism. Sigh.
Yes lets talk about maria, the only shield staff member that gets any airtime out of 100s of staff members who is in a leadership role at the most important organisation on the planet. But muh sexism right?
Oh yes scarlet witch, who’s abilities are essiental to the plot of the movie and the next movie but she’s disposable right? wrong. Quicksilver was disposable not scarlett but let’s over look that so we can complain about misogknee

HARRY

SHUT UP

Tim

Jesus, this is the silliest crap I’ve ever read about a movie.

You are literally making up reasons to be annoyed to support your cause.

Feminists should writer about real issues, like equal opportunity issues, and workplace discrimination. Not getting pissy that a make super hero has a pregnant wife… My god.

Taylor

get over yourself and stop finding things to be upset over.

Derp

Jayson, it’s not a boys club and you’re as dumb as the person who wrote the article. Dumber actually. And the rest of you, nobody drove anybody off, you gossip believing goons. #1. Twitter is a silly platform and keeps artists away from their craft interacting with the foolish likes of you. Shows like Buffy and Firefly weren’t born of shallow social media interactions. 2. He obviously needs a break. You should consider taking one, too.

Derp

Stop making real feminists look bad because you clearly don’t know what the word means. It’s okay if women have children. It’s okay if women don’t. It’s okay for women to feel any which way about it. Our lives, our bodies.

Also, Scarlet Witch was awesome. I don’t know what movie you saw, but she was awesome. If all you care about is quips, that just means you’re shallow and don’t appreciate other facets of people’s identities.

Also, if Wanda’s super power was disintegration of male genitals with her vagina, you might have a point, but the last I checked mind control wasn’t a gendered ability, and if it was, it’s probably more associated with men, anyway.

Joss wasn’t made by giving women clever things to say. He was made by making multifaceted characters. Buffy didn’t inspire generations because she was funny. She inspired generations because she was a whole person and not just some arch type.

Ironically, you object to Black Widow being more than just the assassin someone else made her into.

Rachel Bennett

This is stupid. The movie was good. As a woman it sckens me that you people cannot go watch a movie and enjoy it, instead of trying to find reasons that it is somehow sexist. Black widdow: what happens between her and bruce was a lovely moment of her telling him that he is not the only one who cannot have children, and that she loves him- that the fact that he thinks he cannot give HER what she wants is a figment of his imagination, because she cannot have it anyway-and has come to terms with that. Linda is a housewife, she made that choice and loves her family. Since when is that some man- made bullshit to keep women down? It is as valid a choice now as it always has been. Being feminist should mean that you support all women’s rights to make the choices that they want to make, not JUST to be slaves to what you want of them instead of what men want of them. At the party when the men play "my woman is more awesome than yours" they are clearly proud of their ladies, who are empowered women who do not feel it is necessary that they be on the arm of their man at every event. (that is like the most feminist thing ever BTW) If you had just taken off your bitch colored glasses for ten seconds you would have noticed that.

Marzipan

Utterly fantastic! I just penned my own Open Letter to Mr. Whedon, but I must first say yours its all the right notes. Of course, the poor girl is all kerflumpt because she can’t have children, not because she was turned into an assassin. Oy.

Joan CuiCheng

Could you stop seeing this through the lens of gender competition? Scarlet Witch not having witty quips isn’t a spit in the face of feminism. Both twins are serious and silent characters for the most part. And motherhood is a big potential step in a woman’s life and you don’t need to be sexist to see that being infertile has heavy psychological implications on both male and females. Finally, SPOILER the scientist literally made Vision SPOILER END, how is that not one of the biggest feats in the story?

The problem is you’re being misandrist here. In Iron Man 3 Stark undergoes heavy pressure and panic attacks, if he was a woman you’d call that downgrading the female mind. Sometimes humans are humans, sensitive and weak no matter the sex. Hawkeye is the only Avenger that settles down and has a family, yet he is male. I repeat, the only Avenger who has kids and prefers that to adventuring is male. Not to mention it makes total sense for a woman to take care of the household should the husband spend all his time abroad, being a mother is a real job too and choosing that path isn’t a slap in the face of sexism either.

You’re an awful moviegoer and I hope you let go of these sex warrior viewpoints. The only way in which Black Widow was inferior to the other Avengers in the movie is by not having a magical hammer.

Tessa

This is by far the most ridiculous article about this movie I have seen. This shows her humanity like any good super character development, like Thor’s trouble with his family and humility.  Banners suicide attempt and obvious pain of turning into a raging killer monster. Starks alcohol abuse, Captain America having to deal with being displaced in a separate time period, everyone he knows dead, besides his best friend who was torn apart and put together again and then sent out to kill him.

But you’re complaining about Black Widow having a breakdown of infertility. Something that is serious, something both men and women suffer from. Something that destroys relationships, trust me, I know.
She was used and abused by the KGB. I don’t know if they discussed it in this movie, but as far as I know in the comics they did a lot of things to enhance Black Widow. So if this turns out as a result of that. Well, bravo! Fantastic that they would go that way. Fantastic they would touch on that. The absolute nerve of you to COMPLAIN about this. As if it’s trivial and takes away from her. The nerve of you to act like it’s some useless trope, and makes her less of an ass kicking woman. To not once complain about what could be stereotypical male problems in all of these characters and complain about something that is actually rarely touch upon in blockbuster movies let alone with superheroes. Is in every sense of the word hypocrisy.
To also complain about a housewife the only one in all of these movies filled with nothing but career minded women is also ignorant. That’s not feminism, that’s not tolerance. You know what this is. You complain about about anything and everything because you’re never going to be happy. You don’t know how many awesome empowered female characters I’ve seen and some feminist complain about it, yet their complaints seem to contradict another feminists praise. That’s the thing. Individualism dear, what you might not find empowering others do. For example this. Dealing with infertility within my family this resonates deeply and in my mind makes her stronger. Maybe you should consider that the next time you want to write a blog post complaining about something 4.7 million men and 6.7 million women suffer from.

Raz

I think most of those points are very unreasonable. I definitely see the bias in hollywood towards the male audience, it exists to an insane degree. Right now this is the best you get – so you’re right to demand more. But you’re placing it all at the feet of Joss Whedon. That’s foolish. We have already seen that Disney/Marvel are not promoting female toys and merch like they do the male characters.

Breivik

lel get rekt feminazis

Capsicle

I beg you to stop. You drove off the one man who put any effort into female characters. Now you can enjoy being left with no one who will try.

Nick Naylor

Please be more butthurt about trivial first world non-problems revolving around your delicate sensibilities and narcissism. I insist.

Joss Whedon – proving for the millionth time that pandering to the feelz brigade is a no-win situation. Enjoy the imminent feminist outrage you tool.

Rose

These are fairly weak criticisms. Firstly, although she isn’t known for witticisms, Black Widow had her funny moments. The moment around the table with Thor’s hammer got a good laugh out of everyone in the theater. I imagine her, and Scarlet Witch, may not be as humorous due to the fact they come from a past with heavy trauma unlike spoiled Stark or god Thor. And I have no clue how characters like Hill or Scarlet Witch didn’t impress upon you their hard-core badassness. Hill pulled out a gun to kill the bot like she it was nothing and all the Avengers had no problem letting Scarlet Witch guard the church due to her being so powerful. She even pulled out Ultron’s heart. And what’s wrong with a woman being a housewife? Some people want that in their lives. The error some make is that we all must fight as feminists so as to help everyone "escape" being a housewife, when some want that life and should be allowed it without judgement.

My biggest point of contention with this whole article is the harping on Black Widow being upset about being sterile. One, it did seem at least one male was worried about it. Banner was very upset and unwilling to have a relationship with Natasha due to him being unable to provide her children and have a family. He wanted to be a father and couldn’t give her fatherhood. Finally, just because she may be upset about sterility doesn’t mean that she’s all obsessed with motherhood and family planning. I never planned on a family and never wanted kids, but when a disease took that opportunity away from me I was upset. Not so much about family but my choice taken from me. So stop bashing on her and give her a break. Articles like this are why feminism gets a bad rap.

Gamer DeeZ

So, It’s make a movie that caters to her type or don’t make it???

AJT

Wanda not having quipy quirky commentary during the battles? That’s the complaint? That is the complaint? Being made from a feminist standpoint? Really? Has it occured to the author that Wanda is not a quipy quirky snarky character. She is a long standing well written or at least real feeling character with almost 50 years of history and backstory. In it she is pretty well defined. Enough so that the bulk of her traits will transfer to film. Wanda is the shy girl at the party. Polite, reserved, not very outgoing in public, but warm and caring to her close friends. She does not do well in crowds and takes time to warm to strangers. Elizabeth Olsen perfectly captured the heart and personality of a rather complex heroic character and managed to communicate it well without needing an overabundance of dialog. Should not one of the most basic tests of feminists when reviewing a piece of art or media be "does this represent women as real fully fleshed out characters? In all their varieties?" and not Do the women in it kick ass?

lol

Fan of horrible movies made by a hack, pandering fanboy director disappointed in movie. No possible solution available.

Low_Key

You act as if it is somehow a bad thing Jane Foster did not show up in this movie, this is wrong. Jane Foster is the worst part (along with their incessant desire to stay on Midgard) of the Thor movies. Had they replaced her with a DOG the movies would have improved dramatically.

Scott

And the feminists continue to attack other feminists for not being feminist enough/to their liking. Thanks to the author for quickening the implosion that is inevitable because of the fallacy in their ideas and internalized fear of uselessness to humanity.

Hep C

Hahahahahaha.

You drew this bath when you threw in your lot with psycho 3rd-wave feminists, Whedon. Soak in it. No matter how much you suck up to them, you’ll always be nothing but a disgusting white male.

Knightwing

This article is fuelled with the same ignorance that is infecting the feminists movement today.
It’s very clear that people like this author have no clue about the characters involved or their stories and are just morons out for a pay check. Try reading a comic older than the last couple of years once in a while.
I also think it’s interesting that some who claims to be "encyclopedic "Buffy" expert" comes up with this nonsense. You may have watched the episodes but you sure missed the message.

Ulysses

Ok I’m sorry but you really come of as someone (pardon the language) who has a stick up her ass and can’t even enjoy an ACTION film, if you wanted to review a romance film why did you review Avanger: Age a Ultron a film based on a comic book film you know a SUPERHERO film where logic defying actions happen?

After reading your article twice I came to the realazation(sp?) that you came into this film and wanted to complain about it and that you actually didn’t pay attention to it.

In case you haven’t notice both Banner and Natasha complained about it but the way they handled it was different because of the circonstance. Banner CAN have children but the fact is, if he has them will they be human or as he call himself monsters and because of that all he wants is to be left alone but the problem is people don’t leave him alone and destruction follow. For Black Widow she was raised from when she was little to the spy/assassin that she was before becoming the Agent she is now. It was clearly stated that it was some sort of graduation ceremony to make her sterile in her teenage years, when your a teen girl you didn’t really think about having children but as an adult and hanging around Hawkeye’s family made her rethink on thing she can’t have because on what was done to her.

That scene was about BOTH Banner and Natasha not some nefarious way for Whedon to reduce a strong woman who kick ass BTW into a baby making machine. Romanov and Banner both want normal lives and they can’t have it so why aren’t they allowed to be upset over that fact?

As for Scarlet Witch are you sure you watched the film? She does more than control minds, she send them into a dark place. A place they rather would not go. She also ripped robots a parts and created a shield to protect people from projectile, she also showed she was human and real, she showed fear, incertaint(sp?) and grief(when her brother died) all the while being a total badass and not some Mary Sue that doesn’t show any weakness that some of you feminist keep wanting eliminating their characters and flaws in favor of one dimensional characters.

As for Hawkeye’s wife she was a shield agent, since Shield went bye bye in Winter Soldier and has a kid on the way, I’m sorry but being a Shield Agent is very dangerous and not a job you do while being pregnant. Didn’t it occur to you that because she was a Shield Agent is why she is supportive of the Avengers and to Hawkeye as well?

As for the other two female, what do you expect? they where in the film a total of 5 or less minutes. There is a reasons why it is called a Cameo.

Feminism: voted off the island by Time magazine

This is absolutely great:

-Women that are housewives are letting feminism down.

-Women that want to be mothers are letting feminism down.

-Why aren’t men and women equally bemoaning not having kids because gender is only a social construct of course.

-Each female character isn’t getting 50% of on screen dialogue.

I want them to make a feminist avengers and have Scarlet Witch and Black Widow leading every charge with powers that don’t involve fighting anything at all but hypnosis and backstabbery as this feminazi requests while the men sit back and drink tea and hug it out. It will be so great for the series. I want them to know how well the feminist world view is truly received as they all lose their jobs from a story no one is going to care about because it is about nothing anyone cares about. Then I want them to watch as they capitulate to the insane demands of feminists and get criticized by feminists ANYWAY exactly as Whedon just did and watch him grovel again and promise to do better again! It will never end with third wave feminists at this point. Fortunately the extreme left is eating its own now, I just hope we have a country left after Hilary and the feminazi capitulators are done with giving it all away.

D. Dubya

You’re JUST now figuring out that Joss Whedon is a hack that doesn’t practice what he preaches when it comes to his supposed "strong female characters"?

It’s alright, though. Sometimes it takes folks longer than others to grow out of crap like Whedon faux quirky BS that teenagers back in the 90’s used to try (and fail at) sounding cool; those nostalgia goggles can get pretty tight.

NeoTechni

Also, giving birth is the biggest biological advantage of being a woman over a man (aside from living longer). Why wouldn’t she regret not having that ability.

NeoTechni

"unofficial Browncoat, "Dollhouse" apologist "

I thought you said you were are feminist.
Dollhouse is basically date-rape the TV show. Think about it. They all had their memories wiped, were reprogrammed to have sex with people, then had their memories re-wiped afterwards.

As for Firefly, every woman in the show is insulted heavily.

The engineer gets insulted for not being girly enough (when she tries to buy a dress)
Zoe gets insulted for being too manly.
River is called crazy and used to feed his foot fetish.
Almost everyone is called a whore, even by other girls who get called the same, even by the guy meant to be the hero.
Prostitution is not only legal but highly regarded.
Saffire gets beaten by Malcolm.
There’s an episode filled with damsels in distress, who get called whores.
One even gets publicly raped.
in space garbage, jane even has a sexy lady shirt (like the comet scientist)
and in the same episode the engineer gets threatened with rape, repeatedly.

Remember, this is the guy who wrote Alien Resurrection which has the line "she is severely **ckable"

He is not a feminist writer just cause of Buffy.

Jera

Black Widow isn’t allowed to confide in Banner when she’s trying to convince him to run away with her? Are we completely ignoring the fact that Scarlet Witch is an antagonist for the first 80% of the film and she gets to deliver a pretty crippling blow to Ultron before the end?

Probably. From the sounds of the author she’d only be satisfied if we gender-swapped all the heroes and relegated the male heroes to non-speaking pantomime roles. Yawn.

Jera

You really can’t please these people.

Amy

I’m sorry you had a compulsion to over anaLyze the movie instead of just enjoying it.

Ethan

I don’t see how Scarlet Witch having the most dramatic story arc in the movie is a bad thing. Yeah she wasn’t making quips but that’s because of what her character is going through throughout the movie. Such a lazy criticism.

Trekkmom

I for one do not see it as Nat feeling devalued or less than because she can’t have a baby, to me it was more the fact that at such a young age she had those choices made for her that saddens her, as it would anyone. I do find it quite amusing that on the other hand you brush off Banner’s feelings on never having a home and family as well he’s a guy. Really, you assume the longing for hearth and home is something solely belonging to the female gender and wanting such makes them less of a badass? Who’s biased now?
I personally found the romance between Natasha and Bruce tender and heart breaking, for them both and thought more of the movie for including it. Of course being a long time Joss devotee I also totally expected to see Clint bite the big one, especially after giving him what seems to be out of reach for the rest of the ensemble. I don’t know if I feel relieved or cheated on that one, especially after them making it clear that some of the team would not survive, I assumed it would be someone we had emotions invested in. At least Joss keeps surprising me, which I guess is a good thing!

Kim W

I give up on being a feminist. I love my movies & TV shows far too much to watch them looking for things to be unhappy about.

Matt

Oh look you removed my chewing your monkey ass out from this. Truth hurts doesn’t it?

marianK

Regarding the children angle, of course anyone would be devastated to find they’ve been made sterile without their consent. But that’s not what the article is driving at. The underlying point she is making is about the way male writers keep straight-jacketing women into storylines and tropes about babies, fertility, pregnancy and motherhood. Remember the creepy obssession with Dana Scully’s womb through virtually all 9 seasons of the X-files? Almost every female character in every sci-fi film or TV series gets lumped with some kind mystical pregnancy or mummy crisis storyline.

And finally, the men on this commentary thread are just making it all to obvious why feminism is NOT going anywhere anytime soon. Shut your mouths and open your minds for 5 minutes, boys. You might actually learn something.

Gabriella Creighton

It’s funny because this person in no way, shape or form speaks for "Feminists", just herself.

First of all… this isn’t a new plot to Black Widow… it’s a very old one. Very old. To the point crediting Whedon with it is just plain ignorance of the source material. Genetic experimentation on her rendered her infertile back in the 60s. This is such old news.

Second… no. It can’t have been the same for her as it was for Bruce. His "obvious" problem wasn’t being busy or a hero, it’s because trying to have sex with a woman has the inherent danger of ripping her to shreds since strong bursts of emotion are what triggers him to Hulk out. That and the gamma radiation is a bit of a complication.

Next, the entire article did a great job of completely ignoring Hawkeye’s plot… which shows that one of the men has in fact BEEN DOING IT which is THEIR ENTIRE ARGUEMENT THAT NONE OF THEM ARE and in fact has complications DUE TO IT. Note, they only ignore it for this purpose though, they’re happy to bring it up because OMG, Hawkeye is with a woman who has babies and takes care of them! Stop this sexist madness!

Next up, Hawkeye’s wife. Now, while this seems to be a bit of a rewrite since the current Mockingbird is clearly someone else in Agents of SHIELD, historically the woman that they’re showing off right now would in fact be her. I don’t know if they’re plotting this woman to eventually be Moonstone or the second Mockingbird… but there’s that. Curious they didn’t bother to mention this while making their point that they didn’t cast the actress as anything more than a housewife. (Also love the indication that housewives aren’t important.)

Maria Hill: Look at that! They ignored both action scenes that Maria Hill is in to claim she doesn’t do anything. Really chalking up points for us feminists by leaving things out so you can bitch! Woman takes shots at Ultron twice in the movie, but they focus on that she’s acting as a director / assistant… her actual job in SHIELD.

Helen Cho: Again, is a comic original character, she’s there for one major reason: She’s the link to a possible Hercules movie. She’s the mother of Amadeus, Hercules’ partner and an Illuminati member…

"Seriously, you couldn’t get Gwyneth or Natalie for a couple days?"

No… he couldn’t. They turned down the roles as they’re working on other projects. Seriously, really cheap. The entire point of the line was a double sided joke that both of the actresses were too busy to be in the movie.

Finally Scarlet Witch, sorry, but not only did she have some quippy dialogue that the article chose to ignore, but apparently they missed that her powers are a bit more than the ability to screw with people’s minds. You know, the telekenetics, the empathy, force fields, and the one power they haven’t shown yet… CHANGING THE FABRIC OF REALITY. She’s arguably the most powerful Avenger on the screen, but they chose to downplay her for the sake of argument.

Joss adds plenty of women onto the screen, people still aren’t even remotely happy. I’m glad he’s bowing out, feminists can stop trying to make up crap about his work in order to complain about how he directs a long established franchise into movies as though it’s all his doing. Because you know, they bought into Charisma Carpenter’s bullshit and never let it go.

Cate

Really good and thought provoking argument. It seems film is aimed at boys, while TV is where the good female roles are. Does Ago of Ultron pass the Bechdal test? Not sure as I fell asleep In the middle!

Jason

First of all don’t disrespect the comic book readers. This is a comic book movie not a movie with the objective of increasing the presence of strong female characters. His loyalty is first to the comic book/The Movie and then to his personal beliefs.And I agree some of his personal preferences are what make his movies good but the first Avengers wasnt amazing because of its female presence. It was amazing because of the collective cast.
Joss Whedon may be a feminist and a director but that doesnt mean he has to be a feminist director. Increased female roles in film is not the reason he is making movies. I like macaroni and cheese and I like chicken. That doesnt mean I can only enjoy 1 if the other is present.
The man already had trouble packing in an enormous A-list cast in fairly lengthy movie and now you want him to add 3 more in depth characters?
As it is with the exception of Ultron every character got shafted on how much screen time they received. They cut Loki. Thor’s dream was just breezed over and thats what ended up being what confirmed the birth of the vision.
So please don’t act like this was a directed slight to feminism. It’s a comic book movie where in the comics the female characters don’t get the backstory that the hero gets. In a movie named Ironman I wouldnt want to see black widow back story for 50% of the movie so in a movie with Ultron in the title I wouldnt expect to see any other characters for 50% of the movie.
Let the man direct.

Matt

She only has three modes of character, and that’s a carry over from the comics. Don’t take a piss on Joss Whedon, you can trot on over to the Marvel offices and see how that argument will fly for the multiple decades she’s been around. So no, she gets no Whedon funny one-liners because she is not a funny character. So seriously, take the stick out of your butt and just enjoy the movie as is instead of looking for stuff to complain about.

Matt

Two: Scarlet Witch is a psychopath! She isn’t sarcastic, she isn’t even remotely funny, she is always going from either hard-lined serious, seriously horny, or seriously "I will destroy you!"

Matt

As my girlfriend said "It’s not the notion of her wanting to have kids so much as the choice to have them or not was ripped away from her at a young age just so she can be a mass murderer without anything to tether her to humanity ie. children. So… Yeah, sod off;

Matt

First off, They do make light of the men, Hulk, Hawkeye, even Cap and Iron Man to lesser degrees about the notion of children. They’re all in their 30s and 40s, and I’m sorry but this is clearly written by somebody who is neither of these age demographics and guess what, in a world where they make life and death decisions every single bloody day, children will be brought up.

Matt

You, dear writer, are an IDIOT who clearly hasn’t picked up an Avengers comic.

dire

I can’tr even begin to explain why your whole article is also part of the problem with feminism. You all need to go away.

Ram

I completely disagree on what you said about Scarlet Witch. I thought she was one of the most memorable parts of the film. She didn’t have any "quippy whedony dialogue" because it wouldn’t have made sense with her character. Her character is consistently introverted and serious throughout the film. Giving her a joke just for the sake of it would not have been consistent with her character at all. She steals every scene she’s in.

And your problem with her superpower.. that’s so subjective. You’re saying that having your mind taken over is something that men fear, but women don’t?

Helena

As a feminist, it really bothers me when people seem to be going out of their way to discredit feminism by parodying it.

Zak

Also. If you are familiar with whedon’s work he loves strong female characters–ya know, Buffy the vampire slayer and Dollhouse were both his creations?

Zak Shupe

This is stupid lol. Also, I am not sure you understand how hard it probably is to get Paltrow and Portman. Paltrow has said that she is DONE. And Portman had different things going on.

Niques

Its pieces like this that make me cringe so hard. Dear Ms. Stewart, can you please not write anything else until you’ve learned how to not be so sensitive? This is wrong on so many levels, especially regarding Scarlet Witch. She didn’t need any quippy dialogue, Olson’s portrayal of the character alone made her performance absolutely stunning, and one of the best parts of the whole film.

Art

Wow. I considered myself a femenist until I read this article. I believe in gender equality even though men and women are different. And that is not religious statement. The is biology. Men and women are different. Men process different things than women do. I believe that the movie portray women in a glorious way. I believe that the vision in mind was to protray real women in kick ass situations. Dr. Cho is the intellectual counterpart of banner and stark. Natasha and wand are brute force counterpart of the testosterone in the movie. Both men and women are vulnerable on their respectives fields. Barton is vulnerable on the side of his family. Banner is vulnerable with general mankind. Wanda is vulnerable concerning her brother just as her brother is vulnerable with her. Is it really that bad that natasha is vulnerable that she has sacrificed motherhood. Please enlighten us what else could break a tough heroine like her? Because if something does not break her down, than she is robot. Do you want women to be robots? If she breaks down because she looses a sistter or her mother… Would that satisfy a true feminist? Heroes and heroines break down. Banner broke because he harmed people. Captain america broke because of his lost love. If Natasha broke because of a lost love than you would be ranting that a woman broke down because of a man. Please explain to us what other element could break down black widow. Please help us understand the mind of a true feminist.

AMBER

Agree on every point. Either Joss Whedon got every feminist alternate plot point written out, or he needs to spend some time on TV Tropes. We can add three more for Black Widow in Age of Ultron (I don’t know the names exactly but): The only available female becomes a love interest, character reduced to her genitals and reproductive capability, "strong woman" gets kidnapped and locked in a cage.

Robert Enders

In "Dogma" and "Prometheus", we’ve had women protagonists who say that they are physically unable to get pregnant. SPOILERS: In Dogma, she gets pregnant by divine intervention, and in Prometheus, she gets infected and an alien fetus grows inside her womb. I’m going to guess that when a woman in a scifi or fantasy movie says that she cannot get pregnant, then it’s setting it up for a miraculous pregnancy later down the line.

Charlotte

I have a problem with you calling Natasha’s revelation of her sterilization as "having a mini-breakdown". She got a little misty-eyed and was mournful, but that’s it. Calling it a breakdown is misogynist and ableist — A woman showed emotion, ergo she must be crazy!

Whitney

As a woman who can’t have children I can attest to the complicated, often painful, and nuanced emotions that whole bag brings with it. I am grateful for any opportunity to see women dealing with those same obstacles represented. It really is a rare we get to see examples we can identify with in that way.

Rick

I think most adults regardless of gender would be upset to find out they couldn’t physically have children. I think it would be even more upsetting to realize you might want children afterall but because of warped conditioning during your childhood you decided to take that option off the table. That amps up the regret for sure. This is also a character who was told that detachment would lead her to be more efficient and now she is an Avenger and a honorary Barton and, arguably, has found even greater strengths in having those relationships that were sold to her as weakness.

Ryan

It’s utterly silly that a woman is crying over ScarJo getting an origin in this film and unzipping boobs and generally being a human here and all the Mmmph scenes are dudes.

Tumblr feminism (this) is garbage. She was treated like a human and Hawkeye’s wife had a good scene. But most of this film felt more like making up for Hawkeye’s lost time and giving her an origin story (newsflash, we didn’t have hers much until this film).

As for Witch’s power it was easier than probability manipulation and a more real life version of her power set.

This film had issues but Widow being portrayed poorly wasn’t much of one kidnapping aside (and really HE spent most of the first one in her position for a small portion and duh, the top 4 aren’t going to be locked up from fans).

Rose

Whoa, whoa. Plenty of salient points here, but Natasha didn’t have a "mini-breakdown" over not being able to have kids, she got reasonably upset at the memory of being *forcibly sterilized.* I think most people would be traumatized by that whether or not they actually want children (and I’m saying this as a woman who totally doesn’t). It’s not a perfect movie, no, but that part felt entirely earned to me.

Jayson

this chick should get over herself avengers is a boys club hunny be glad there is even a main woman in it period

Robert

Don’t worry, Gisela (above). I’m sure the movie will succeed without you being there with all of your considerable disappointment.

No

You know it is really sad when feminists lose heart when a film based on comic book characters don’t embrace feminist ieals. Really sad.

rachel feldman

VERY COOL! Love this!

Marsia Powers

I saw the movie 2 weeks ago and I must have seen a different movie than you did. IPhone banner heartbroken that he would not be able to have children and I saw a black widow comforting him that she too could not have children and that the choice was taken away from her

Benxpete

Boooooo hoooooooooo

Glen A Risdon

Isn’t it a pity that Scarlett Johansson lost her Oxfam spokesperson status when she stubbonly continued to advertise Soda Stream–manufactured in the occupied territories of Palestine!

Kasey

lmao shut up

paul monks

oh stop moaning , wanda DOES have the power to mess with peoples minds , she can do almost anything that she wants in fact , she can change reality , therefore if she can change reality she can sure as hell make people see their deepest fears . Not every film can have multiple women all fighting the good fight , just as notevery film can have a black dude or gay dude or siberian hamster dude! This film already had certain story lines that they needed to stick with in oreder to keep the canon of the MCU going , Captain Marvel is coming soon , A WHOLE FILM about a woman super hero !
Unfortunately in the past , women superhero films havent worked well (electra, supergirl , catwoman to name but afew . this is the fault of either the cinema goers that just dont seem to enjoy women superheros or the writers that just dont seem capable of writing good female characters .
However , to your point of why dont the men worry about not having kids, NONE of the men had their uterus (or equivalent) ripped out at the age of 16! so of course they dont worry about not having kids , they can all have them at some point if they wanted to .
its also to add a side to her that shows that shes human and not a mindless assassin .
There really doesnt need to be such an in depth look at to why she thinks this or why he said that , THE FILM IS ABOUT HEROES WITH SUPERPOWERS !!! ITS NOT THE REAL WORLD, JUST WATCH IT AND ENJOY THE ACTION AND MAYBE FALL IN LOVE WITH ONE OF THE CHRIS’S (this is what i did, ill leave it to you to work out which chris stole my heart but here a clue , actually who am i kidding , they all made my heart miss a beat)

de pizan

Maria Hill has only appeared three times on Agents of SHIELD. And her last appearance there was a brief consulting session via skype. So sadly she’s not given any more to do there either.

Max

I don’t Black Widow regretting not being able to have kids because of her choice to become a KGB spy makes her weak for fall into some gender stereotype. She’s an individual with a dark past and she’s allowed to feel sorry that she can’t have children. I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that many women in this world wouldn’t mind have kids at some point in their lives and it sucks if there isn’t a sliver of hope that it couldn’t happen. It’s a trauma for Black Widow, but it’s not 100% what defines her. Also Scarlet Witch has been known to take over minds of other characters in the comics

riley

Third wave feminists are pure cancer

Lindsey

Wanda having mind control powers is very much on Whedon. She doesn’t have that power in the comics. He gave her mind control powers because…? I don’t know. He wanted Bruce to fight Tony, I guess?

Gisela Diaz

Oh boy, I am really disappointed. I was going to see that movie this Saturday. I expected more of the Black Widow. Shame on you Joss Whedon.

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