ByK Cummins, writer at

Much has been said and many big deals have been made all over the internet by many people (including Mark Ruffalo, who "Hulk SMASHed" his way into the controversy) about the lack of toy options for the females of Marvel/Disney's Avengers: Age of Ultron. And it is a fair criticism.

Let's look at the numbers, shall we?

Sixty toy items were released and posted on Marvel's various pages for Age of Ultron. The numbers breakdown is as follows:

Iron Man - 17 toys
Thor - 11 toys
Captain America - 10 toys
Hulk - 10 toys
Hawkeye - 6 toys
Black Widow - 4 toys
Scarlet Witch - 2 toys
Quicksilver - 0 toys
Vision - 0 toys

Third party sites I have tracked since have released one additional toy for each hero, including both Black Widow and Scarlet Witch (not to mention the utterly forgotten by Marvel/Disney Quicksilver and Vision), and issued a jaw-dropping 9+ toys for Ultron, who is the villain of the film (I didn't count sub-Ultrons, or we'd be in Iron Man territory).

Note that my count included just toys; it did not include $200-300 figures by Hot Toys and Sideshow Collectibles because I can't imagine a world where anyone buys those for their nine-year-old to play with.

Now, anyone who thinks that Disney--or any company that's been in business for 92 years--is not profit-driven does not understand how business works. They're in it for money, plain and simple. And Disney makes a lot of money--enough to buy Marvel for $4 billion in 2009, $7.4 billion for Pixar in 2006, and then pay another $4 billion for Lucasfilm in 2012. I am not at all ashamed to say that my lifetime love of Disney and insistence on my mother (and later, my own) purchasing every single Disney film ever made has contributed to those profits and helped, in some small way, to enable Disney to purchase two other major IPs that I have loved since I was a child: Marvel and Star Wars.

Even so, ever since I was a child, I have never, ever been interested in purchasing or having purchased for me any princess whose name was not Leia. Princess Leia did not wait around for some prince to sweep her off her feet and carry her off to a castle to live happily ever after--she picked up a blaster and fought her way out of trouble herself, thank you very much.

And that is where Marvel/Disney is missing the plot here: girls being raised by men and women of my generation like strong women. They like Elsa and Anna, yes. But they like Ahsoka, they like Mara Jade (I had to!), they love Black Widow and Scarlet Witch and Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel... and they have proven that by making up 44% of the viewing audience of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Males also love Black Widow--and not just because it's Scarlett Johansson up on that screen (which, interestingly, someone at Marvel recognized, since Ms. Johansson got the third highest amount of screentime in Avengers: Assemble!, has been in four separate Marvel Universe films and is currently filming her fifth appearance in the Marvel Universe).

In short, Marvel/Disney: Black Widow makes money. A lot of money. A Scrooge McDuck-sized pile of money. Replacing her in the Quinjet-motorcycle toy pack with Captain America does Black Widow and, more importantly, Marvel fans a disservice. And Captain America--the embodiment of truth and justice--wouldn't have any part of it.


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