“Last week at Comic-Con, I had an interesting conversation with my colleague Drew McWeeny about the upcoming Marvel film “Ant-Man.” Since he’d already seen it, I asked if it was going to be any good. I was hesitant to see another sausage-fest masquerading as an action movie and my daughter was already annoyed with each new commercial, asking “Why can’t Hope just be the hero?” Drew, knowing a Venn Diagram for my love of all things superhero and all things feminism is actually just a circle, told me not to worry. I’d love Evangeline Lilly’s character of Hope van Dyne.
He was right.
Ever since “Iron Man” burst into the cineplex back in 2008 (and well before that in the source material), there has been a distinct pattern. Men save the day, women cheer them on. A handful of exceptions have kept the fulcrum from tipping completely into the abyss of objectification: Black Widow, Maria Hill, Scarlet Witch and the Carter women have all played pivotal supporting roles. Key word there being “supporting.”
But for every time Black Widow makes a man suffer for underestimating her, there are three Jane Foster’s pining away for years over a man they knew for two days. For every Peggy Carter punching a bad guy in the face, there’s a half dozen women getting damseled or fridged. And don’t get me started on the missed opportunity of not hiding the Rescue Suit inside Pepper’s giant stuffed bear gift in “Iron Man 3.”
In “Ant-Man,” Hope van Dyne comes to life as the Avatar of Lady Geek Frustration. Hope is every woman in the audience asking why the Avengers are only 17% female* — which is incidentally the EXACT PERCENTAGE of women used in Hollywood crowd scenes. Hope is every little girl (and boy) frustrated they can’t find Black Widow or Gamora action figures…”