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One of the more pressing issues in Hollywood currently is the lack of female visibility in superhero films and merchandise. In big-budget action films, the female characters are often ignored or kept peripheral when it comes to merchandising opportunities. We first saw this happen when Black Widow was left out of toys for The Avengers and Age of Ultron. Things got even more heated when The Force Awakens merch was excluding Rey from toy sets, despite her being the lead character and the one with the most action sequences.
Awareness for this issue has only continued to grow, as last week saw Shane Black, who wrote Iron Man 3, reveal that the film was originally supposed to have a female villain, before Marvel execs told him that a female wouldn’t sell enough toys. And now Krysten Ritter, who plays the title character in Netflix’s Jessica Jones has responded to the whole hoopla.
Girls can sell toys. I don’t know if there is [a Jessica Jones toy] yet, but there should be and I bet it would sell huge, and I’m gonna make some phone calls after this.
This statement comes to us from the Late Show With Stephen Colbert, where Colbert brought the big Iron Man 3 controversy to Krysten Ritter’s attention on air. While Ritter seemed to not have gotten the memo, her reaction was both charming and instantly argumentative, standing up for all the female heroes and villains across various mediums.
It is suspect that strong female characters are so lacking in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In regards to the films, we really only have Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, and Agent 13 in the current timeline. And including Agent 13 is a bit generous, as her plot line revolves around she and Steve Rogers’ feelings toward each other, rather than her career as an agent. That just leaves Black Widow and Scarlet Witch, neither of which have been the subject of their own standalone movie.
Conversely, the MCU television world has far more strong female characters, who would presumably be able to sell tons of merch. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a bunch of tough ladies, and the late Agent Carter revolved around Peggy’s badassery. On Netflix, Jessica Jones is almost entirely made of captivating females, plus Daredevil introduced the deadly Elektra.
Marvel’s concern regarding toys is certainly something that needs to be solved. While the studio certainly is focused on making money, stories probably shouldn’t be compromised in favor of merchandise. Also, give us a damn female lead movie already! I’m looking at you Black Widow.
What do you think of the Iron Man 3 controversy? Sound off in the comments section below.