The Cliffs of Insanity: Black Widow’s Changing Shape

Image courtesy Marvel Entertainment
© Marvel

Welcome to this week’s adventures climbing the cliffs of insanity. I made a short trip out to California last week to get a look at Dreamworks Animation’s new feature, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, and a look at a super-secret project that may turn out to be next fall’s Frozen–an unexpected and highly unique hit.

But while I was gone, Marvel Entertainment released this promotional poster for the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier. And it’s a measure of how used to overly sexualized women’s images in superhero stories that my first thought was, “Well, it’s not that bad.”

And, if this was just an isolated incident, it wouldn’t be that bad.

For example, Widow is at least looking at the camera and not showcasing her butt, as she did in the promotional images for The Avengers. Of course, her waist has been heavily photoshopped to be longer and thinner, and her hair is also arranged just so to be sexy.

But there’s that pesky context. A context that the actor in the poster is well aware. First, there was her comment in Entertainment Weekly when The Avengers was released that she knew she’d have to “wear pasties” to get a Black Widow movie approved. Then there’s her schooling of the journalist who asked her a question about her diet for the movie after asking Robert Downey Jr. about his performance. This prompted a “Why do I get the rabbit food question?” response from Johansson.

To add more context, news is trickling out about which Marvel cinematic movies have been added to “Phase 3” of Marvel Entertainment’s plan; phase 3 meaning the movies scheduled to be made for viewing after Avengers 2. Not one of them has a female lead. And, of course, Norse Thunder God Thor and all his confusing mythology will have three movies.

How many movies does Wonder Woman, who a similar amount of confusing mythology, have?

Oh, right. ZERO.

So when I see this poster, I think of all that, and I think of how in the big splash page of the current issue of the big DC Comics event, “Forever Evil,” good and bad teams are aligned to fight and yet, up there in the corner, there was still a place to showcase Catwoman’s butt.

And I think of Felicia Day, who got flak for simply cutting her hair short, and then some irate types created a meme supposedly Day before and after her haircut. The point being, I suppose, that Day with hair is sexier. The problem with that?

The “Before” photo wasn’t even Felicia Day.

Context.

Get the GeekDad Books!

   

But there is hope. Queen Elsa would like to point out a few facts.

What’s that you say, Elsa? Wait, I know. You’re laughing all the way to the bank being the star of the biggest Disney movie in like, forever, surpassing $300 million in domestic ticket sales as of January, with about double that  worldwide, which puts it on the path to become the biggest grossing Disney movie of all time.

This for Frozen, which is about female friendship. In which sisters are co-leads. And this supposedly in a town that says this kind of movie just will never work. Too tricky. Girl cooties!

I’m sorry, Elsa. To Hollywood, you apparently don’t exist yet. 

elsa frozen
Elsa, from Disney’s Frozen © Disney

Oops. Watch out, guys. I wouldn’t piss her off. Or the legion of fans and moviegoers behind her.

Writer, Mom, Geek and Superhero. though usually not all four on the same day. Author of the award-winning Phoenix Institute Superhero series and the steampunk novel, The Curse of the Brimstone Contract.