Not too long ago, I had a conversation with one of my Fellow Fems about female under representation in pop culture (like many a pretentious, twenty-something, bra-burner before us). She made the inevitable leap to how unfair it was the Marvel’s Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) doesn’t have her own stand alone movie. My initial response was, ‘right on, sister’. Then I asked if she’d been watching ABC/Marvel’s new series Agent Carter. She answered that, no, she wasn’t. Come again?…
It’s probably the worst kept secret in network TV history that Agent Carter is serving as a dry run for strong female leads in the MCU. If smart, empowered, beautiful, charasmatic Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) can’t draw crowds with a limited run TV show, why should Marvel shell out millions upon millions to make a female driven superhero movie? And let’s not kid ourselves, Carter is enjoying pretty abysmal ratings, despite the fact that, in my opinion, it’s a good show. It’s got a great lead in Atwell, James D’Arcy as bulter Edwin Jarvis makes for an awesome Girl Friday, and frankly, it’s been much fresher and more entertaining than Agents of Shield ever was in it’s first season. So why in the Susan-B-Anthony can’t this show seem to thrive?
I keep coming back to one thing. Because really, there is only one reason I can think of why audiences would be more receptive to a Black Widow stand alone than a Peggy Carter one. Black Widow is defined by her sexuality. I mean, yeah, she can quip with the best, and kick all the necessary ass, but she’s also severely underwritten and hyper-sexualized. If Peggy Carter ran around in a black cat-suit, would that make her more marketable? I’m actually scared of the answer.
I guess what I’m getting at is, let’s not perpetuate the idea that Marvel’s fan base won’t support strong, independent, female leads with more to offer than their butt-kicking capacity and deft application of feminine whiles. Let’s promote female characters with emotional depth and intelligence and appeal that isn’t directly related to how good they look in skin-tight stealth suits. Watch Agent Carter, Tuesday’s at 9 on ABC, and you’ll see what I mean.