ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

It's a tale as old as time (or, at least, as old as the Marvel Cinematic Universe): a new set of Marvel merchandising has hit the shelves, and, as is seemingly so often the case, there's a hero conspicuous by their absence.

A clue? It isn't Robert Downey, Jr.

Avengers: Age of Ultron may not be arriving on DVD and Blu Ray for a fair few months yet, but that doesn't mean it isn't already sparking a whole lot of controversy - and causing a whole lot of offense. The reason?

Black Widow Was Cut Out of the 'Core' Avengers Line-Up...AGAIN

With a large number of the forthcoming Age of Ultron DVD and Blu Ray cover images having now been released, there's a pretty noticeable trend emerging. One which, it seems, doesn't really get that Black Widow is in the team, whether it's on the UK DVD release...

...Or the 3D Blu Ray version of the movie...

...there's a distinct lack of Black Widow (and, in fairness, Hawkeye) to be found - and, while the standard 2D Blu Ray edition restores Natasha (and Clint) to the line-up...'s still important to note that Black Widow has, quite clearly, been relegated to 'secondary Avenger' status in the minds of a whole lot of marketers and graphic designers. Why a whole lot, you ask?

Well, as it turns out, the DVD design problem doesn't seem to be limited to the UK, with the forthcoming US release looking set to have a similarly dude-centric design:

One in which, it seems, there's no room for the fan-favorite Black Widow.

Why Does That Matter, Though?

After all, the counter-argument would seem to run, Hawkeye has been cut out just as much as Black Widow, and he's very much of the male persuasion.

Which is true, of course - and it's entirely possible that the decision to exclude Black Widow from some of the DVD covers was conceived by the relevant decision-makers as simply an attempt to focus on Marvel's 'big three (plus Hulk).' By trimming out the non-solo-movie-possessing Black Widow and Hawkeye, the argument would presumably have gone, the DVD cover could focus on the most commercially proven Avengers.

The problem with that logic, though?

Black Widow Has Been Systematically Excluded from Merchandising for Years

Whether it's the peculiar replacement of Black Widow by Cap in one of Age of Ultron's toy-lines, the widespread absence of Natasha from lunch boxes and promotional materials world-wide, or even the lack of a Black Widow solo movie, there's a notable - and consistent - gender gap when it comes to Marvel's representation of its leading lady.

In other words - Hawkeye may not have made the DVD cover cut either, but there's no evidence of the Jeremy Renner-played hero having been systematically excluded from merchandise in the past for any other reason than lower levels of popularity.

Black Widow, on the other hand, is both one of Marvel's most popular superheroes, and - being played by Scarlett Johansson - one of the biggest names in acting terms. Her being excluded from DVD covers, then, doesn't so much seem like a commercial decision as it does a (likely unconsciously) sexist one.

Or, y'know, whoever OK'ed those DVD covers is just kind of bad at their job, and doesn't get that there are millions of people out there for whom Black Widow is actually the main draw of the Avengers team.

Either way, though, some kind of change is long-past overdue... (and, while we're on the subject, maybe next time we could see Scarlet Witch, too?)

What do you think, though?

via The Mary Sue


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