I don’t know how to feel about Saturday Night Live‘s parody of Marvel’s treatment of female superheroes. Marvel has come up with something for almost every male superhero out there. So why have they taken so long to release a feature film that revolves around a female superhero? (We have to wait until at least 2018 for Captain Marvel.)
SNL believes they have the answer: Silly, Marvel, superheroes aren’t for girls. Duh. In SNL’s new trailer, they imagine what it would be like if Marvel studios collaborated with the writers of 27 Dresses. Black Widow moves to New York City and gets her dream job at a fashion magazine. But that’s not the important thing. It all begins when she bumps into Ultron as he’s walking his dogs and they begin a heartfelt romance. Relationship ups and downs ensue as she confides in her friends, which include Thor (an effeminate version) and Captain America. Her only salvation in the fake trailer is The Hulk offering her some sympathy ice cream as she gets over her breakup with Ultron.
The parody wasn’t really that funny. This statement may make me sound like a pretentious prick, but I’m being honest when I say that this trailer wasn’t amusing to me. At most, it’s a romantic comedy (and that isn’t saying much, as the genre itself has been declared dead numerous times). At worst it’s a chauvinistic stereotype of what women want out of popular culture. (Note: SNL, don’t give Marvel the idea to collaborate with the writers of 27 Dresses! The Black Widow movie hasn’t even come out yet, don’t let it get to this!)
But the overall message made up for the lack of humor. And that message was upsetting. It’s not because the trailer was a rom-com (I’ve actually come across a couple good ones), and it’s not because Black Widow works at a fashion magazine. It’s the fact that there are assumptions made about female audiences’ interests and they’ve been jumbled up and corralled into this little corner of “chick flick” culture that isn’t taken too seriously, because women for some reason can’t be taken seriously. SNL’s trailer plays this well-known and irritating assumption into full effect.
Marvel’s held out on creating a female superhero film, and I think it’s because they’re at a loss of how to fill 120ish minutes worth of storylines and subplots that revolve around a female character. Maybe they’re making the same “assumptions” as SNL and are shying away from chick flicks. Either way, it appears they can only fill about 30-45 minutes or so of substantial scenes for the female character. I’ve come to believe this is because most superhero film creators seem to only be capable of writing enough script material to have females involved on screen for about a third of the film. The female characters themselves in this genre only seem to be capable of what their male counterparts are able to do, no matter the apparent strength of the female’s character or moral. If, for whatever reason, Marvel wanted to drop down another level, the Black Widow’s character in The Avengers could have been easily replaced with a male or entirely written out if need be. What does that tell you about the superhero culture?
What’s that you say? Get over it, they put a kick-ass woman in The Avengers, for Pete’s sake! That fact alone should stifle us feminists, shouldn’t it? After all, we should be thankful that she’s one of the few women in that movie who were put in there to appease us, right? No, we’re not appeased, because we’re too greedy and selfish, that’s why. If it really came down to it, I’d be willing to boycott Age of Ultron when it came out. I don’t really care if it sounds blasphemous (calm down, my fellow geeks, it’s in the name of justice). I’m not bluffing when I say that I’m totally satisfied with the other millions of films out there that pass the Bechdel test with flying colors, and then some.
Sure, I should probably get this self-righteous feminist stick out of my bum, but unfortunately it’s gonna stay there until my unbelievable selfish demands for sexual equality via film are met. If the SNL trailer is what the Black Widow deserves, then someone do me a favor: Put me in a time machine and take me to a day when we’re done living in a man’s world, so I can finally get that stick out of my bum.
Till now, I’m embracing my inner Daria (yes, the brooding teen from the ’90s cartoon).