But, and fuck if there isn’t always a but, it also underscored one of the continuing and institutional problems with the big summer blockbuster. And that is they almost never pass the Bechdel Test, “The Avengers” sadly included. While the movie passes the first crucial test: Yes there are more than two named female characters. “The Avengers” has three: Black Widow, Agent Maria Hill and Pepper Potts. But then it fails the last two tests. They never talk to each other, about a man or anything else for that matter.
Of course, this isn’t to say that female representation is terrible in “The Avengers.” Quite the opposite, really. None of them are damsels in distress. One could argue that Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper is a standard-issue superhero girlfriend, but given her backstory in two previous solo “Iron Man” films makes her more than mere arm candy. Plus she’s about the only person who can cut cocksure Tony Stark down to size. Sure, Cobie Smulders’ Agent Hill mostly just looks stoic (also hot, so hot) in her SHIELD uniform while providing exposition. But she also battles her own brainwashed agents with heroism and flare. And then there’s Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow who is not only integral to the plot, she nicely turns some female tropes (she’s weakened by her apparent love for a man) on their head. All these women are strong and smart and so much more than action movie T&A. This is Joss, after all.
read the entire blog at the source.
C - who’s alltime favorite comic is Captain America & therefore knows his Avengers storylines really well - complained that Captain Marvel (apparently a female counterpart to Captain America?) is an original Avenger but wasn’t in the film. When I said to him, of course not, I mean God forbid that there is an action movie with more than one woman superhero at a time he totally agreed with me that (1) people would have complained about the “girlifying” of the movie had there been even 1 more woman and (2) that is ridiculous.
It seems that Avengers is getting mostly a lot of positive “yay good female portrayal” press. I think it was okay in this regard yet had so much more potential*, but that it’s just so much better at portraying women in action than almost every other film**, that people are jumping up and down about it.
*I have read somewhere that the Black Widow storyline from the comics was very accurately portrayed within the film, so there is the fact they are working with limitations of existing characters
**Hit Girl from KickAss jumps immediately to mind.