Avengers: Age of Ultron premiered recently, and as expected, it secured another success for Marvel, the company that doesn't seem to be slowing down at all. To commemorate the release of Marvel's epic superhero team-up film, Marvel released a ton of cool Avengers-themed merchandise; including a set of heroic razors!
That's cool and all, and I'll definitely try to get one so I too can shave like a thunder God or a big green monster. But one Avenger has been noticeably left out of the shaving game.
This has left female fans outraged by the under-representation of a founding member of the Avengers team, and an inspiration for female superhero fans everywhere. Now you could argue that Hawkeye isn't there either, so this may just be Marvel advertising their super-powered heroes and leaving their spies in the dust. But this isn't the first time that Marvel has left BW out in the cold. There is hardly any Black Widow themed merchandise out there. All Black Widow has to her name is a couple of dolls, a Funko pop figure, and maybe you can find a hat or something out there if you look hard enough.
Meanwhile, kids can buy Hulk hands, Iron Man blasters, Thor's hammer and just about any other type of merchandise you can think of related to the rest of the Avengers team. And yes, even Hawkeye has a ton of merch out there. But despite having been in films since 2008, and proving herself worthy of being on a team of superheroes, Black Widow gets hardly any love. Why is that? Well, I wish I knew. The fact of the matter is that female superheroes are very under-represented, especially when compared to their male counterparts. This is probably because comic companies like Marvel have it stuck in their head that girls can't be big superhero fans.
Well Marvel, you're horribly wrong. If anything, superheroes appeal to girls more than ever these days. Look at the definition of a female role model nowadays, found often in recent Disney princess films.
Strong, independent females with personalities, strengths and weaknesses. Girls who take control of their own lives and fates, solving their own problems, rather than sitting around and waiting for someone to do it for them. Long gone are the old and one-sided Disney princesses, who would rather sit in their locked towers, singing songs with birds and mice, than bust out of the towers and take a stand! Ok, so Disney just released Cinderella, but that's just a remake of a classic; of course she'd still be old-school. But I'm talking about the new Disney princesses.
Merida from Brave, Anna and Elsa from Frozen, Rapunzel from Tangled, they've all broken the mold on Disney princess standards, and by doing so have inspired an entire generation of young girls! You know what that sounds like to me? Superheroes. Black Widow and Elsa have more in common than you think. Sure one's a spy with a dark past, and the other's a queen with an..icy stare...
But they are both young female icons with strong characteristics, and the ability and desire to pave their own paths. But unlike Widow, Elsa has a ton of merchandise.
This is mainly because Elsa isn't officially called a superhero, she's a princess. Marvel, this is coming from a huge fan, please stop being so biased! No one's saying you're sexist and anti-female (well, some are, but I don't think it's true), you just have your priorities in the wrong place. I get that heroes like Captain America and Hulk have a larger fanbase, but that's only because you decided to market them more than your female heroes. "Superheroes" isn't a boy-only term Marvel, females can like them too.
And it's not just Black Widow, you've got a whole universe full of female heroes and villains that are just non-existent in the marketing world. She-Hulk, Jean Grey, Sue Storm, and those are just the A-listers. Just look at DC's newest partnership with Mattel.
WB, DC and Mattel have partnered to create 'DC Super Hero Girls', an entire new universe of designed just for female superhero fans. It's set to start this fall, and features famous DC heroes like Wonder Woman, Batgirl and Supergirl. Each hero will have their own storyline, revolving around her discovering her special abilities and and exploring what teen life is like as a superhero. Even villains like Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn are joining in.
And no, this isn't a line of new Barbie-style dolls based on DC girls. 'DC Super Hero Girls' will have TV specials, immersive digital content, books, apparel and the most important announcement about this new girl-centric universe, action figures. "Action figures" is a term heavily used to describe toys for boys, like how dolls are toys for girls. DC and Warner Bros. have announced a whole line of action figures based on the heroes, and though fashion dolls are in their plans as well, they are being described as "featuring strong, athletic bodies that stand on their own in heroic poses."
So now DC's got a whole metaphorical universe of role models for young comic geek gals, and that's awesome. Unintentionally, or perhaps very intentionally (how should I know?), this new DC strategy makes Marvel's lack of female attention even more ridiculous. Marvel really needs to come up with something fast, not just to rival DC, but to appeal to a large number of their fan base.
So what can they do? They could break the gender barrier entirely! I like DC's idea, an entire universe for female superhero fans is awesome! But one might argue that by doing this, they're only isolating their female heroes from their male counterparts. I don't think that's what DC was going for at all, and I love the idea of an entire line of merchandise for female fans (my sisters will love it more), but what Marvel could is take that just one step higher.
I'm a huge comic fan, and one of my favorite heroes is She-Hulk. Marvel, why not releasing some She-Hulk merchandise for guys? And my sister is a huge Spider-Man/Deadpool fan (fun fact: so is Moviepilot EIC Alisha Grauso), so it'd be awesome to see more Spider-Man merch for girls. What I'm getting at here is, don't be so gender-specific. That's why I love that DC is making action figures of female super heroes, rather than just fashion dolls. I think it would just be better if they marketed it as something for both boys and girls. If you really want female heroes to have a bigger presence in your marketing, Marvel and DC, you should show male and female fans alike that they can love whatever hero they want!
No matter what Marvel does about their lack of gender equality, let's hope that they do it soon. The world is ready for it Marvel, even the Hulk is ready for it (see article link below)! Talk about DC all you want. Yeah, they're behind Marvel when it comes to films and television, but when it comes to equality, at least in merchandising, DC has the upper hand.
Like Alisha Grauso says better than I ever could:
It's time for even Marvel fans to acknowledge that as of right now, in merchandise, at least, DC is killing the equality game.
Anyway, that's my input on such a strong topic.
Thanks for reading!
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Source: DC Comics