The Avengers Starring Black Widow As SmurfetteOctober 13, 2011 No Comments
The new Avengers trailer is out (see below) and the movie promises excessive amounts of car explosions, life-threatening situations, gratuitous shots of cityscapes and epic “saving the world” battles.
Fans of the original Marvel comic series will be happy to note that the Avengers consist of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk and Hawkeye, all macho, macho men with weapons and muscles. Oh, and then there’s Black Widow.
Black Widow is the only female Avenger in the team. The movie’s director and co-writer Joss Whedon, also known for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and several science-fiction cult favourites such as Firefly and Dollhouse, said “It is true that the movie is only going to have one female avenger but she will not be the only female character.” Does that mean we get to see the Black Widow share some meaningful girl talk with the other female characters? I highly doubt it.
The character of Black Widow continues the “Smurfette principle” in science fiction/fantasy television and movies that are aimed towards men. The “Smurfette principle” is the tendency for works of fiction to have only one female character among an ensemble of male characters. Often, this character will only be known as “The Girl” while the male characters embody different personalities and reasons for existence in the overall plot. The classic Smurfette embodies the traits of the only Smurfette in the land of Smurfville — blonde, attractive and consciously feminine in dress, thought , speech and action.
In the original comics published in the early 1960s, the Avengers team featured a Smurfette in the form of female superhero Wasp. Apparently, the writers and directors of the 2012 “re-imagined” Avengers have decided to keep to the one woman only rule as they did in the 60s.
The current re-imaginings of The Avengers features only one female character in the leading cast. In a world where women have made huge strides in gaining political, economic and social power, surely there is room for more than one woman on the proverbial “team?” Hollywood writers, directors and producers stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the diversity of women and continue to represent us through a single cast member. When shows or movies include more than one female character, they are often stereotypical representations of race and queerness.
We have to remind ourselves that the images we see on-screen do not exist in a vacuum. These images come from wider, often oppressive ideas about women and men . We need to challenge these ideas by critically thinking about the multi-million dollar movie and television show franchise that cross national borders and individual imaginations.
The Avengers is set to release in May 2012 and as a self-identified feminerd and geek girl, I will be waiting in line to get into the theaters. I hope the writers do justice to the character of Black Widow and try to develop her character beyond just being “The Girl.” I wonder who will star in the quintessential “fist fight to save the world.” The feminist in me hopes that it will be Black Widow.
[Ed: and she doesn't even get a line in the trailer. Sheesh!]
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