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THE INHERENT CONTRADICTION IN FEMALE SUPERHEROES

Among the enthusiasts for comic book superhero movies are numbered a few heedlessly carping devotees who persist in demanding a superhero movie with a superheroine headlining the feature. Lately in the Denver Post, professor (at Colorado Mesa University) Michael Conklin discussed this oddity at some length.

He began by listing several female lead comic book movies from 1984 through 2005 (“Supergirl” through “Elektra”) that were failures at the box office — and among fans. None of them compared to the financial success of what he calls “the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”

Marvel, he notes, “is a fairly progressive company” in terms of representing diversity: “Their current best-selling comic book features a hero of color, the Black Panther. Another major character in comics, Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan, is a Muslim-America.” And Thor is presently a woman. And “there are so many LGBT characters in Marvel Comics that you can find top 10 lists of people’s favorites.”

But heroines won’t become a mainstay in movies unless they are profitable, Conklin continues. And he goes on to provide this devastating analysis:

Mystique vs“Ironically, a recent controversy brought on by people purporting to protect women lends support to the diminished roles for female superheroes. A billboard promoting the new X-Men movie features Jennifer Lawrence’s character, Mystique, going up against the main villain, Apocalypse. Instead of praising the advertisement for featuring a female hero, [activists] attacked [it] for portraying violence against women because the main villain is male [sort of] and Mystique is female [sort of — they’re both mutants of some kind].

“Not surprisingly, superhero movies depict violence against the hero. If movie studios are put on notice that this is unacceptable for female characters, that perpetuates the role of men as the superheroes by creating a strong incentive to instead use women in traditional, damsel-in-distress roles.”

So putting female superheroes on screen will be “an even greater uphill battle if activists groups attack studios for promoting women in traditionally male roles” — which, ipso facto, will necessitate violence against women, violence initiated, of course, by those nasty villains..

Sigh. You can’t win.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

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