The topic has been discussed over and over in recent months; MARVEL seems to have a problem making movies with female leads. Are MARVEL producers a bunch of mysogynists? Are female superheroes intrinsically less interesting for viewers? Is there a worldwide conspiracy to prevent strong female leads? Would Jean Grey beat Wolverine? So many questions, so little time.
Let's break this down:
Are MARVEL producers a bunch of mysogynists?
Well, I am ready to make the assumption, based on statistics only, that most big shots in MARVEL are indeed men, probably white, and probably heterosexual. This by itself shouldn't be such a horrible thing, it's been a fairly recent development in comic books that more and more women become avid readers and consumers, it is somewhat natural that in an industry that has historically catered for that demographic to be filled with that very same group.
I don't think they are consciously biased towards their own kin, but I am more than willing to think that they are probably unconsciously doing precisely that. At a gut level they probably feel that most people would be interested in the same things that interest themselves. Something should change, but what?
For starters we should see more and more women getting high up in the decision making ladder of MARVEL. This will take time, and in a world where we want things here and now it will provoque some frustration, but I'm afraid there is no quick solution: to try to rock the boat too much too soon would probably create a backlash from the still main group of superhero comic book readers.
Are female superheroes intrinsically less engaging for viewers/readers?
I certainly don't think so. But again we are faced with a twofold barrier.
On the one hand we have those very same male-majority decision making groups disagreeing with me. Some of their concerns have at least some founding in reality: Superhero movies with female leads have been mostly box office bombs. I would argue that those flops have been caused by poorly written scripts and half-assed attempts at creating female leads. But if I had to invest my money even I would feel somewhat safer betting for Thor than for the She-Hulk (at least at this point in time).
With time we will hopefully break out of the way screenwriters and directors portray women and we will be able to see and enjoy full flegded characters regardless of gender, but again I won't be holding my breath.
Is there a worldwide conspiracy to prevent strong female leads?
I doubt it, at least not a conscious one. Even the staunchiest of producers are realising that half of moviegoers are women, and that force feeding them romcoms it not gonna cut it for much longer.
Yet again we have to wait for the proper mind shift to run it's course and for the new generations to get into position of power in the decision making squeme. Until then, we will just have to wait and keep asking for it.
Would Jean Grey beat Wolverine?
Most definitely yes.
So... what can I do?
Well, for starters if you're reading this, chances are you are under the age of 30 or even younger (maybe much younger). The title has also sparked your interest which means you consider it a real issue. So far so good: you are part of the solution.
As I said before, no change can be too abrupt, so you will have to arm yourself with patience. You will also have to keep expressing your opinion on gender-bias in the superhero world (while you're at it you can also do it in other situations as well), only by letting everyone involved know that you feel there is a problem can we reach the critical mass necessary to spark change. You should be understanding and respectful: Most people will find themselves agreeing with you if you express your opinions on the subject while respecting their's. It is my belief that most gender-bias comes from lack of information, not from outright bigotry (although there is some of that too). Besides, being disrespectful and attacking someone will get you no closer to changing their mind.
I am certain that MARVEL, and everyone else, will understand sooner than later that viewers and readers want to see interesting kickass characters regardless of gender. Then, and only then, we will get the female leads that we deserve.