Wonder Woman. SuperGirl. Black Widow. Women can be superheroes, though that’s not what the media has been saying for the past few years.
Many women, before now, didn’t see themselves in superhero movies. It was always the love interest, the damsel in distress — that seemed to be the only role for a woman in a superhero film. But recently, change has started.
With the introduction of Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johannsen in Marvel’s The Avengers, a female character somersaulted onto the big screen. She may have been a side character, getting far less screen time than the likes of Captain America and Iron Man, but Black Widow was there. Then came SuperGirl, the first female superhero to get her own television show. And once again, the CW had pushed progress. But superheroes are still mostly men. And soon to come is the first big-budget superhero film to feature a female lead: Wonder Woman.
Progress has been made, don’t get me wrong — in the past few years women have seen an insane leap in representation. But it can still get better; Black Widow has had calls for a movie since The Avengers, yet there isn’t one. Women are still, by and large, being pushed to the side. And they aren’t the only minorities.
African-American people have seen very little representation — Black Panther is the only superhero with a planned movie. Many characters in Marvel movies are African-American, but they are always pushed to the role of sidekick. (In fact, if you take a look at Marvel movies, that’s their most prominent and repeated role.) It’s almost as if they’re trying to meet a quota, but aren’t willing to make big enough changes. Main characters in comic books are replaced by black people many times, yet it’s almost as if Marvel fears that.
Asian people are almost invisible. With the recent release of Doctor Strange, there was a chance to make a difference there — but the movie was whitewashed. With so few Asian superheroes, the representation there is lacking as well.
Real-life heroes come in all shapes and sizes, so why don’t comic book heroes? There is more than enough space to change that, and the winds of progress are blowing. I’m excited to see more color in our heroes, I just don’t know when that will be. After all, diversity is the spice of life. (Or is that variety?) So let’s spice up some superheroes.
For the story that inspired me, check out Chronicle staff writer Alekya Raghavan’s story at thecspn.com