11:30 am EST, March 3, 2015

State of the universe: Marvel women on the rise

My fellow Marvel-ites, the last few months have been a promising time for Marvel women and it’s only up from here.

While there hasn’t been a new Marvel movie in over seven months, the status of women and female superheroes in the Marvel universe (both cinematic and print) has been at the forefront of Marvel news, announcements, and, most importantly, entertainment.

When the Marvel Cinematic Universe was just starting out, it was exciting enough to see comic book characters come to life in a realistic, fun, and non-campy way. Our thoughts mainly revolved around getting the world right and doing the characters justice. We’ve obviously grown a lot since then.

In the years since the inception of the MCU, questions of and movements for gender and racial representation have been the hot topic for both the cinematic and print universes, and for good reason. We all want to feel like we can relate to the characters in the stories because we, ourselves, want to feel like superheroes. Though it sometimes feels like our pleas and arguments fall upon deaf ears, there have been some significant developments in the Marvel universes in the last few months alone.

‘Captain Marvel’: Coming ‘soon’ to a theater near you

Carol Danvers Captain Marvel

This past October, Marvel held a mysterious event where they announced the entire Phase 3 lineup. On one hand, it was majorly disappointing that a Black Widow movie was nowhere to be seen on the line up because she’s quickly become one of our favorite parts of the MCU. Sure, we’re supposed to get more of her backstory in Age of Ultron this May, but that’s just not enough.

Her snub is a sizable step backward for Marvel, as is the fact that only one female-fronted movie was announced. As much as we love their films, Marvel’s continuous refusal to sideline other projects in favor of more superheroine films is a big strike against them.

On the other hand, I personally was overjoyed to at least see Captain Marvel on the list. Carol Danvers is one of the most interesting and powerful Marvel women and it’s fantastic to see that she’s coming to the silver screen. I know we’re all upset that the premiere for Captain Marvel is so far away (thanks a lot, Spider-Man), but it’s coming. That’s something that we weren’t ever able to say before.

The amazing ‘Agent Carter’

Agent Carter's Peggy and Angie

We’d been waiting on pins and needles to watch and fall in love with Agent Carter ever since the show was announced. Boy, was the wait worth it. I don’t know about you, but, for me, Agent Carter was love at first sight. Sure, it’s not without its flaws and issues, but if I had to choose one show to watch for the rest of my life, this would be it.

Peggy Carter is a gem and having her on our television screens has been a blessing. Though Nielsen households have unjustly overlooked her, the hype around the show has been astounding. Agent Carter proved that strong Marvel women can attract a wide range of audiences, not just women (although we are quite the formidable audience by ourselves). Not only that, but also that women can be tough, sensitive, mysterious, versatile, and professional all at once. Plus, they can have awesome friends like Angie!

I think the most telling thing about Agent Carter‘s success and popularity is the threat of riots if there’s no second season. Unlike for other shows on the bubble, this threat is very real.

All hail the ladies of ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’

Skye Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

And then there’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. From where I’m standing, we seem to have entered a new era of advertising and storytelling. From the looks of all of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. teasers that have been running lately, there seems to be a huge emphasis on the Marvel women. Much more so than ever before. One of the teasers specifically calls out the women and focuses on them. In fact, we’ve seen very little of the male characters in the teasers.

Unlike last season, the women have really carried this season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Jemma infiltrated HYDRA, Xena (aka Agent Hartley) made quite an impact in the first episode and then “died” (I have feelings about this), Bobbi joined the team after beating up HYDRA, and, at the center of it all, Skye found out more about who she is and where she comes from. Yes, we’ve had all of the Fitz feels and were puzzled over Coulson’s obsessive sketching, but the ladies have commanded every single episode this season.

The best part of all is that the emphasis on the ladies doesn’t seem to be fading anytime soon. After all, Skye has to deal with the aftermath of being an Inhuman. Bobbi has a secret that we haven’t even gotten around to exploring yet. Reina transformed into a whiskered cat-Jawa hybrid. Lady Sif is returning! These plot points have been built up to be driving forces for the rest of the season, which means it’s going to be ladies night every Tuesday night.

Strong Marvel women in comics


In terms of comic books, there has been a lot going on. Aside from Thor now being a woman, G. Willow Wilson and the entire team behind Ms. Marvel have really knocked it out of the park with a relatable female character who has a rich history and cultural background. The success of this run has been overwhelming but well-deserved because it’s an amazing story.

I also can’t forget the new lady Avengers team-up that we’ll be seeing soon. The announcement for the A-Force was a huge surprise and made quite a splash. So many Marvel women, all under one title and working together? It’s going to be quite a ride!

So, are women still sorely underrepresented in the Marvel universes, both cinematic and comic book? Yes. Is their increased presence in these universes moving slower than it should be? That’s an understatement. However, it’s happening. For the first time, women are stepping into the Marvel spotlight, in both production and audience, and really commanding the attention they deserve.

The state of the Marvel union in terms of women is strong and it’s only getting stronger. It’s a great time to be a Marvel fan and we can’t wait to see where the women of Marvel go from here.


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