Comic books movies may be even more sexist than the books they're based upon
Contemporary comic-book-based films are widely viewed as loud, special-effects packed, terrible in quality and unmistakably sexist toward female characters. In fact, calling them "characters" would be more credit than they deserve, and the ones that are characters are still continually shown as helpless or sex objects.I always sensed that this was likely to be the way the movies would turn out, once they were available at the theaters for everyone to see. The movie based on Barb Wire must've at least had the excuse of being intended as a nod to Russ Meyer, if you know what some of his films were like, but it failed nevertheless, and frankly, I don't care.
Catwoman and Elektra, the only two films that focus on a sole female heroine, opened to critical butchering and opening weekends of less than $17 million. Both films had banal content, yet that doesn't explain how poorly received they were. Many movies with male superheroes were considerably worse, yet made much more money. Consider the painfully mind-numbing two hours of Hulk, which made more than three times the profit of either Catwoman or Elektra.
Sex has long been a failsafe for film advertising, with women usually as the selling points. When fully transformed into their superhero personas, both Catwoman and Elektra wear a thick layer of makeup, tight leather pants and itty-bitty tops. They aren't shown as strong, intelligent women, but rather as sex objects - the only way to market them to men and boys.
There's one minor flaw with this though:
While male superheroes are fully clad, females get tops that push their breasts up to their chins and out for the public to see. Though this method of attracting viewers often fails, it is still unabashed sexism.The above, if you ask me, is exaggerated, so this can be taken with a grain of salt. But the next part I quote here certainly has something to it:
Then there are the female heroes that are in a group of superheroes - a newer category that is still unimpressive. Here we see the women of X-Men, Fantastic Four and Batman and Robin, two in which the characters of Storm and Batgirl are entirely useless in the films.On Batman and Robin: After reading this, if Batman and Robin really does portray Silverstone's Batgirl as ineffective, I am so glad I that I only saw very little of that Shumacher-helmed atrocity years ago, when it was once broadcast on TV, and by now, I've pretty much forgotten it entirely.
Alicia Silverstone was 21 years old when she played Batgirl, yet she is still called a girl. Another pair of these women, Sue Storm and Jean Gray, are defined only by the male characters, for they both play a love interest and rift between two men. Rogue, the youngest of the X-Men group, is the only one that actually has a character.
The male superheroes don't go it alone, though. Whether monogamous like Spider-Man, or with a new girl every movie like Batman, there is always that one female character always needing to be rescued.
These characters should not even qualify as 'characters' - it's more appropriate to label them as 'types' because they come with little to no background and have virtually no personality to speak of. Simply put, they are the all-too-common, overused love interest.
These helpless characters, from Batman Forever's Chase Meridian to Batman Begins' Rachel Dawes, range from the extreme. Meridian is given no personality outside of being a blatantly forward psychologist; she is Batman's girlfriend, nothing more.
Dawes has some backstory, some personality, even some guts, but still essentially fits the hackneyed mold. Even as she has a gun-trained one-on-one showdown with Scarecrow's minions, Batman literally swoops in to save her.
On Batman Forever: so boring a mess, it's not even worth discussing.
On X-Men: while I don't think Storm was actually depicted as a love interest (worser still, I figure), she was still quite horribly underused, and far from being truly effective in battle (with the movie's version of the Toad), and even if she doesn't win the battle, that's not saying it's impossible to show her putting up a convincing fight.
As for Jean Grey, yup, they got that right - she's a love interest, a love triangle-connecter, and little more. And if the next movie regurgitates the now unbearable (for me anyway) Phoenix cliche, well now, please do gag me with a spoon!
On Batman Begins: I must be so disillusioned with movies by now, I figure I'd have to skip it anyway, and not bother to see if Katie Holmes ends up being squandered. No matter.
However, not all the female characters of the film versions of the Marvel universe are sexist or insulting. In fact, Catwoman, as a villain in Batman Returns, is quite possibly the most interesting, well-acted and least insulting female character in a comic-book-based movie.So it's a shame that, with the exception of Michelle Pfeiffer in the role of the feline fatale, the rest of the movie is worthless (and the Penguin's costume design and character origin in the movie were based on racial stereotypes! Ick).
What's disturbing about the above though, is something that the writer may not realize: there seems to have been quite a trend in literature at times, to depict women as only being effective in battle when they're on the bad side! And if so, then that could explain why even Batman Returns fails on that level for me.
But the overwhelming majority paints comic book women as different versions of the same woman. It is time for society to abandon these archaic views of women and start portraying them in an equal light, beginning with film.Perhaps, but the woman who wrote this should also take a good look at how the source material for a lot of these movies, including company-wide crossovers like Identity Crisis, Avengers Disassembled, Amazing Spider-Man: Sins Past, and much of the stories featured in Batman books themselves, have been written, certainly as of recent. Horrors such as those explain perfectly well why comic books, as the source material for the films, may have to be a priority when visiting the repair shop.
Labels: misogyny and racism