Anyone Who Says You Hit Like a Girl, Better Mean It as a Compliment


By James Hancock

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.


Valkyrie, art by Milo Manara

Valkyrie, art by Milo Manara

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.


'Thor' #150 (1968) cover by Jack 'The King' Kirby

‘Thor’ #150 (1968) cover by Jack ‘The King’ Kirby

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.


Death in Jim Starlin's 'The Death of Captain Marvel' (1982)

Death in Jim Starlin’s ‘The Death of Captain Marvel’ (1982)

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.


'FF' vol. 2 #5 (2013), cover by Mike Allred

‘FF’ vol. 2 #5 (2013), cover by Mike Allred

One of my personal favorite creations of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, Medusa (Medusalith Amaquelin) first appeared back in “Fantastic Four” #36 (1965) and she has the potential to be the standout of ‘The Inhumans’ coming our way Summer 2019. For those who don’t know, the Inhumans are enhanced beings, the result of Kree experiments on humans long ago, now living in total isolation in their kingdom of Attilan. The Queen of Attilan is a striking character visually and she boasts a set of powers that has never before been seen on screen except for maybe in giant octopus and squid movies from the 1950s. Her relationship with her husband Black Bolt and his mad brother Maximus has the potential for some of the best royal intrigue we’ve seen since “Game of Thrones”. For anyone interested in reading up on the character, Matt Fraction and Mike Allred recently breathed new life into Medusa in their brilliant run on “FF”. Just give me a movie where the secret city of Attilan is discovered by a hostile outside world, forcing the Inhumans to relocate their city to the moon and I’ll be very happy. This would be an amazing role for any actress but if I were to pick it would be a two-way tie between Jessica Chastain and Natalie Dormer.
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So that’s all I have for now but there are countless more amazing characters to choose from that would make great female characters for the MCU. Now that Marvel and Sony have found a way to play nice with each other over the intellectual property of Spider-Man, we will likely see Spider-Woman at some point as well. As a character, she was involved in a different scandal last year over the sexualization of females in comics, but that is another topic for another day. In that situation, the same SJWs I referred to at the beginning of this post decided to wage a venomous war against artists that I love and respect. My attitude is always is that if we don’t like something, then vote with our dollars. I don’t like the way men are portrayed in most romantic comedies and soap operas, but rather than attack their creators and make threats like a crazy person I engage in my own simple protest by spending my money on other types of storytelling that I enjoy while at the same time recognizing that there are people out there who can’t live without ‘Grey’s Anatomy’. I think the key is not to take the bait when SJWs mount one of their crusades such as their latest against Joss Whedon, but also recognize that there is a usually something useful to infer from their hate. In this case, there is always room for improvement when it comes to the use of women in comic book movies and we haven’t even started discussing DC Comics not to mention the countless amazing female-centric series in the world of Independent Comics such ‘Velvet’ and ‘Fatale’ over at Image Comics by Ed Brubaker. Female writers like Gail Simone and Kelly Sue DeConnick have been taking the comic book industry by storm for years and it is only a matter of time before one of these creators gets trusted with a major movie franchise. In the end I hope embittered fans will direct their energies toward making the types of projects that they would like to see rather than wasting their time and everyone else’s making death threats on the internet.

As a movie this story would change the genre of erotic horror forever.


The female James Bond and a movie screaming to get made.

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