Joss Whedon talks misogyny in superhero movies; says Lucy is a step forward
Yesterday we touched on diversity in superhero films with the help of some great commentary from Jason Momoa. Today we get more specific and look at gender diversity in the genre with director Joss Whedon. Never one to shy away from speaking out against misogyny within the entertainment industry, his latest point on the topic comes from an interview he had on the set of AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON last summer as well as more recent clarification on his comments.
Talking with Digital Spy last year he said:
It’s a phenomenon in the [film] industry that we call ‘stupid people’. There is genuine, recalcitrant, intractable sexism, and old-fashioned quiet misogyny that goes on. You hear ‘Oh, [female superheroes] don’t work because of these two bad ones that were made eight years ago’, there’s always an excuse.
Back in 2013 while speaking to The Daily Beast Whedon also called the idea that a female superhero movie couldn't work "stupid." Since that interview with last summer both Marvel and DC Comics announced plans for standalone superhero films with female leads, CAPTAIN MARVEL and WONDER WOMAN.
Speaking to BuzzFeed yesterday, Whedon clarified his comments:
I just thought, 'I sounded very harsh,'" he said about the original comments. "And then [Marvel announced], 'We're going to make Captain Marvel. We're going to make Black Panther. We're going to shake it up.' I was just like, great! Now I just sound mean and bitter. But, you know, there's a lot to be mean and bitter about.
I think I speak for the majority of us when I say, don’t feel bad at all Mr. Whedon. Not only was what he said accurate, it’s since been a more vocal sentiment felt by many others and is looking more and more like it will be corrected. Maybe he had something to do with that, maybe not, but he spoke up and that’s commendable for someone working in this industry to do. The genre is driven by male characters right now and whether people want to throw blame at past failed efforts by female-driven films (I’m looking at you ELEKTRA) or say it’s not as profitable to take these "risks", I would point them towards YA movies like THE HUNGER GAMES, DIVERGENT, and even THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.
He added to his recent comments saying:
[Captain Marvel is] something that [Marvel Studios chief] Kevin [Feige] has been working on for a while. And I obviously was a cheerleader, but he had to get all the ducks in a row and get all the minds in agreement. I think being a part of Disney maybe makes it easier, because they’re open to it. And Marvel now is in a position to shake up its own paradigm, because it’s got such a success record.
Whedon talked about the YA adaptations being a way to open up the avenues to tell more female-driven stories:
The superhero story — and I do consider [the YA adaptations] to be superhero stories — it doesn’t have to be about one tortured billionaire. It can be a girl and her community, her crushes, her fears. We can evolve that genre more quickly if we come at it from different ways. It both makes sense commercially and artistically. Not all the movies are going to be good. That never happens. But it’s going to open up the avenues.
Whedon talked about the movie LUCY and how it’s a big step in the right direction for female-led superhero movies:
Lucy was a huge step, in a way. Because it was such a massive hit, and because Scarlett [Johansson] is amazing in it. Her in the first 40 minutes of that movie is just — she’s giving a powerhouse, emotional performance as a terrified and evolving person. It’s not just, ‘Oh, we’re going to pay lip service to this idea, and then get to the endless ass-kicking.’ It really is a character piece. She’s what you’re looking at the whole time. I mean, [she and I] don’t even talk about movies, and I had to tell her how great she was. So to deal from that place, instead of just ‘here’s a genre idea that will sell toys,’ is dynamite.
You would be hard pressed to find someone who would disagree with these comments or someone who would actually want to verbalize it. It’s clear that the majority of the movie industry is geared towards males, but there are changes in sight. More female-driven blockbusters are only a matter of time and will lead to even more diversity for the superhero genre, something it needs to breathe.
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