The Hulk is channeling his rage for another good cause: the campaign for more movies about superheroines.
Mark Ruffalo recently addressed some of the controversy surrounding “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” specifically the criticisms about Black Widow’s depiction, during a Reddit AMA. When asked about the negative attention “Avengers” director Joss Whedon has been on the receiving end of, Ruffalo defended Whedon as a passionate feminist committed to representing complex female characters onscreen, but also pointed to the wider issues at play, noting, “Part of the problem is that people are
frustrated that they want to see more women, doing more things, in superhero
movies, and because we don’t have as many women as we should yet, they’re very,
very sensitive to every single storyline that comes up right now.” Ruffalo seems to be very mindful of not coming across as dismissive of the accusations being leveled — we’re relieved he didn’t say “oversensitive” — and shows an understanding of why those invested in achieving gender equality onscreen would dissect a character like Black Widow to such a degree: She’s a rare example of a superheroine, so the way she’s characterized onscreen holds a lot of weight.
Ruffalo, who we’ve previously recognized in our Hollywood Feminist of the Day feature, continued, “I think that what people might really be upset about is the
fact that we need more superhuman women. The guys can do anything, they can
have love affairs, they can be weak or strong, and nobody raises an eyebrow. But
when we do that with a woman, because there are so few storylines for women, we
become hyper-critical of every single move that we make because there’s not
much else to compare it to.”
While that’s certainly a part of what people are upset about — that we need more superhuman women in our stories — suggesting that this dearth is the sole motivator for finding fault in this particular movie is a bit of a cop-out. In other words, we are in total agreement about the picture Ruffalo is painting, but it’s important not to discount or devalue the important points raised in criticisms of “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” such as its underdeveloped supporting female characters.
We’re heartened to see Ruffalo draw attention to this issue, especially after his “Avengers: Age of Ultron” co-stars Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans kicked off the press tour by calling Black Widow “a slut.” The resulting backlash led to both actors releasing statements, and while Evans offered what appeared to be a sincere apology, Renner trivialized the issue, and went on to dig a deeper hole by again insisting on Black Widow’s “slut” status during an interview on “Conan.” Meanwhile, as we previously reported, Ruffalo tweeted at Marvel encouraging them to make more Black Widow merchandise. As our favorite male Avenger, we hope Ruffalo will continue to offer thoughtful commentary and champion the mission to offer more stories about women in Hollywood, especially in the superhero world.
While Whedon’s recent departure from Twitter was the source of much speculation — the most popular explanation was that feminist bullies drove him away — Whedon has since repudiated these claims, going so far as to call them “horseshit.” In an interview with BuzzFeed, Whedon explained, “I saw a lot of people say, ‘Well, the social
justice warriors destroyed one of their own!’ It’s like, Nope. That didn’t
happen.” Case closed.
Ruffalo can next be seen in Maya Forbes’ “Infinitely Polar Bear,” which is set for release on June 19.