Superhero movies are a tricky thing. While the genre is extremely popular and brings in tons of money at the box office, they're not always the most inclusive of films. Throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe's eight years and 12 films, all of the protagonists have been white males. Sure, Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow has been kicking ass in the Avengers and Captain America movies, but she hasn't been the subject of her own spinoff. While the MCU is taking positive steps forward in Phase Three by producing movies led by people of color and women, there is still another test that they need to pass: the Bechdel test.
I have done my best, as a male writer, with varying degrees of success, to bring female characters and female stories to the forefront. Whether they're protagonists like Ana in Dawn of the Dead or Starla in Slither, comedy relief like Deadly Girl, Nightbird, and Power Chick in The Specials, or the insane, scene-stealing roles usually reserved for men, like Libby in SUPER. And I can't wait for you all to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, with Gamora, Nebula, and Mantis in action, where we not only pass the Bechdel test, but run over it and back up over it again and again in an eighteen-wheeler truck, and where their stories and the men's stories don't come at the expense of each other, but are interwoven in a way to strengthen and optimize all of them.
Cue the applause, James Gunn has done it again.
Female representation in film has been an issue for as long as movies started playing on the silver screen. More often than not, male protagonists are the true focus of movies. They get to be dynamic and layered characters who interact with all the other major players. Women, however, are commonly represented much more one dimensionally. Their plot is often related to the man's arc, and there are rarely more than one strong female character in a movie at a time. Thus, the Bechdel test was created.
The Bechdel test was created by cartoonist and writer Alison Bechdel. The test is simple; in order to pass a movie must include three simple criteria. A film must 1) have two women in it, 2) who talk to each other, 3) about something besides a man. Seems easy, right? Well, it turns out this is harder than expected because tons of popular and acclaimed movies fail this test.
But James Gunn promises to pass the test will flying colors and include multiple female characters who have complex stories and plots, none of which include romantic interests. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has three starring female characters: sisters/enemies Gamora and Nebula, as well as newcomer Mantis. The film will contain exciting stories for the female characters, and will surely help usher in MCU leading ladies in the upcoming movies Captain Marvel and Ant-Man and the Wasp.