The Avengers Feminist Critique

Topics: Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Stan Lee Pages: 1 (313 words) Published: April 24, 2013
The Avengers assembled a record-breaking box office take ($200.3 million from U.S. audiences) on opening weekend, breaking the record set by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows—Part 2. The Christian Science Monitor attributes the film’s opening-weekend success, in part, to women, who comprised 40 percent of the movie’s audience. Writer/director Joss Whedon deserves props for a script that fulfills comic book movie conventions while subtly challenging the genre’s stereotypical depiction of women. Although Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow is a supporting character (and the only major female role, aside from Gwyneth Paltrow’s stand by your Iron Man cameo), she reminds the audience of the ways in which girl power can be both feminist and fun. Black Widow’s skin-tight black suit provides eye-candy to the 18-25 year-old moviegoing males who are considered box office bread and butter. But archetypes of masculine sex appeal are on display as well (from Thor’s brawny good looks to Bruce Banner’s brainy vulnerability). (unlike postfeminist comic book icons such as the S&M-y Catwoman or the botanic beauty Poison Ivy) her power stems from smarts rather than seduction. A master of interrogation, she extricates information from her marks by outwitting them. She is also an accomplished martial artist. In fact, it’s worth noting that unlike the four principal Avengers, Black Widow’s skills do not need to be augmented by a superhuman superpower or a fancy gadget.  She goes toe to toe with the bad guys, keeping pace with her male counterparts, fueled only by girl power. it not only garnered solid critical acclaim but also positive word of mouth from women (and not just fangirls, mind you) means that there’s a market for  powerful portrayals of women even in standard genre films.

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