My apologies to UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey for stealing her line for the title of this post but given what I’m about to talk about, I couldn’t resist. There’s been a lot of talk online lately about the role of women in comic book movies, in particular those by Marvel Studios, and these conversations range from fans swooning over the love affair between Black Widow and Hulk in ‘Avengers: of Ultron’ (see my review here) to hate-filled diatribes misdirected at Joss Whedon for his latest film (one that I thoroughly enjoyed and have seen twice). Director James Gunn wrote a fantastic post about some of this bile and anger being hurled at Whedon that I highly recommend people read. It is incredible to me just how heated these online exchanges can get over these fictional characters but clearly people have a lot of emotion invested in the topic and, rightly or wrongly, get a little insane when discussing it. For my part I think a lot of these hateful rants are transparent attempts to go viral, posts written by people who have all their conclusions decided upon long before they gather any evidence or actually see the movie in question. When a celebrity makes an off color joke, these Social Justice Warriors demand an apology tour and then pat themselves on the back for accomplishing basically nothing. If they were genuinely activists they would be spending their time discussing real atrocities committed against women around the world instead of arguing about fictional characters who wear colorful tights. In my opinion, by responding to and arguing with these writers directly, we are giving these individuals exactly what they want, online traffic, so I will not be adding any links to any of the nonsense I have seen them write over the last few days. All I will say is that Joss Whedon has been writing fantastic female characters his entire career, will continue to do so and that when Social Justice Warriors attack him for imaginary offenses, they run the risk of alienating people like myself who probably agree with 99% of their political opinions on paper but who find their tone and tactics so loathsome that we can’t help but choose sides against them. Rather than getting mired in some silly online exchange and shouting match, I’d rather do something positive. I’ve been reading comics my entire life and I have a few suggestions for beefing up the female presence in Marvel’s lineup.
The gist of the more sensible concerns about women in Marvel’s slate of films is that there aren’t enough great vehicles or characters for women at a time when more women than ever are reading comics and/or watching comic book-based films. I totally agree. Personally I really dig action films with female leads and I’d argue that Tarantino gave us the best female-driven action franchise of all time in ‘Kill Bill: Vol. 1’ (2003) and ‘Kill Bill: Vol. 2’ (2004) where we had an entire cast of ass-kicking females. Neil Marshall’s ‘The Descent’ (2005) is another great example of a balls-to-the-wall action/horror flick featuring exclusively women. Of all the many ‘Holy Shit!’ moments in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ my personal favorite is the dramatic entrance made by Scarlet Witch when she finally accepts her role as an Avenger. Female superheroes seriously kick ass, always have, and many fans have been screaming in frustration for a solo ‘Black Widow’ film for years, a character who has already appeared in 4 movies by Marvel Studios. As much as I love the character, I’d only want a Black Widow flick if a great filmmaker had an amazing idea for the project. If the movie simply got made for its own sake, the result would likely be an embarrassment for those behind it as well as for those who called for it in the first place. Out of the thousands of characters in the Marvel Universe, the great majority do not get their own monthly title nor they necessarily need their own solo movie franchise. Personally I’m tired of formulaic solo franchises and much prefer to see these characters interacting in ensemble casts in movies like ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’. Black Widow and Hulk are far more interesting to me as an audience member where they get to play in the same sandbox. That said, Marvel has already announced that we will be getting a movie starring Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel in 2018 after the character is introduced in an earlier Marvel movie. I absolutely love Carol Danvers and can’t wait to see how they tackle her character on the screen. The Marvel Comics Universe is full of amazing female characters that would be ideal additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I just want to toss a few names out there for future consideration.
With ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ coming in Nov, 2017, I think Valkyrie is an absolute no-brainer as a character we need to see on the screen. I get a little sentimental about Brunnhilde aka Valkyrie. Some of the first comics I ever owned as a little kid showcased Valkyrie as a member of the Defenders and I’ve always loved this one-woman wrecking machine who is capable of waging war side by side with the likes of Thor. Technically she’s one of the many Valkyrior from Asgard, the chooser of the slain that guide the souls of valiant warriors to Valhalla. Her look and style of fighting might too closely resemble that of Jaimie Alexander’s character of Sif but one could make that argument basically for every Asgardian character. Given the subject of Thor’s next film, I think it is highly likely we will see Surtur, Ymir, or Loki laying waste to all of Asgard so it would only make sense for this Chooser of the Slain to make an appearance. Anyone have Ronda Rousey’s phone number? She’d be ideal.
Staying on the topic of Thor and the possible total destruction of Asgard during Ragnarok, every great hero is defined by his villains and few have captured my imagination more than Hela, the Asgardian Goddess of Death and the ruler of Hel and Niffleheim. Hela has been a recurring villain in the comics for decades with many of her best appearances based loosely on her classic stories in Norse mythology. My favorite story is the gradual construction of Naglfar, a boat made entirely from the fingernails and toenails of the dead. When the day Ragnarok comes, this ship will bring the hordes of dead armies to participate in the last battle of the Gods. I get a geeky thrill just thinking about the possibilities. Eva Green was born to play this part.
Ever since I read Jim Starlin’s ‘The Death of Captain Marvel’ (1982) as a kid, I’ve been a fan of Death, sometimes called Mistress Death who made her first appearance in “Captain Marvel” #26 (1973). With Thanos looming on the horizon as a major villain in ‘Avengers: Infinity War Parts I & II’ (2018-2019), chances are high that Death might be introduced. Thanos is motivated primarily by his love/obsession for Death. Everything he does is in an effort to make himself worthy of becoming her lover either by achieving omnipotence or by laying waste to planets and solar systems. Death is one of the universal constants in Marvel Comics and is one of the most powerful rivaled only by her “twin” Eternity. She rarely speaks or takes action but whenever she feels as if that the forces of life and death are out of balance, she will do something drastic such as when she resurrected Thanos setting in motion his first assembly of the Infinity Gauntlet and his war on all life. When the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy inevitably throw down with Thanos in ‘Infinity War’, expect Death to make an appearance. I’d give my right arm for Tilda Swinton to play this role.
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