Gender Representation in the Superhero Genre


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Gender Representation in the Superhero Genre

  1. 1. Gender Representations in the Superhero Genre
  2. 2. Women as main charactersA question usually asked is why arentthere any good superhero films with afemale character as the lead althoughtheir supporting character roles arecontinually improving?Looking back at older films such as AeonFlux or Cat woman; they are criticallypanned as being bad. The coined term by Laura Mulvey “MaleGaze”. May have something to do withthis. As a note, they also are mainly Anti-Heroes in theirOnwards to Why. own movies. There are no “Captain Americas here.
  3. 3. Why? A common theme is that Film-makers primarily choose to focuson a super heroines looks andattractiveness to draw in maleaudiences. As far as I am awarethere have been zero superheroines that are not seen as un-attractive. So although thecharacters can use their looksand exploiting stereotypes for anadvantage to get places, basingan entire film around this tropeturns the characters from being To be the honest the chances of “Barb Wire” not being a film focussing on therelatable, to being objectively “attractiveness” of the female lead were pretty low.viewed. So more attention in the writing, acting and the way the audience views thefilm is about how the super heroine looks and what shes wearing rather thanher intelligence or other more heroic traits.
  4. 4. Supporting Characters● This is where there is definitely more diversity in charactertraits for both men or women as they arent entirely focussedon. Ive touched on the more common supportive roles in thesuperhero genre back in my post on conventions. The upcomingtwo aspects of a supportive role of women are just two of themore noticeable supporting characters within these films. Boththe good and the bad
  5. 5. Women as supporting characters “Mary Janes” This is a phrase I made up; but that isbecause this character personifies this typeof female supporting character.● She is a Love Interest of Peter Parker● Always gets captured in all 3 films● Although she makes independent decisionsthat conflict with the hero, they areultimately “wrong”. Now to be honest, this type ofcharacterisation has definitely toned backover the last few years in superhero filmsand was actually not all that common beforethe 21st century as well Point is, this is not a As a note: In the comics and animated TVvery good type of female supporting shows Mary Jane is much more than a “Mary- Jane” nowadayscharacter to aim for.
  6. 6. Women as supporting characters Well Rounded This is pretty much the aim of all goodfemale supporting characters. To be knownfor themselves rather than to be known forthe way the hero interacts with them. Thisapplies to men as well. Great supportingcharacters is what can really elevate a film.● These types of characters are shown ascapable and able to get themselves out ofsituations.● Are more of a noticable aid to the Mainheroes rather than being a burden.
  7. 7. Change in Male main characters in Action Films Back in the 80s, prior to advacements inediting technolgy stars such as ArnoldSchwarzenegger and Slyvester Stallonemade more of an impact due to theirpsysique being able to back up the moreoutlandish stunts they were doing. How ever as time moved on and technologyimproved, so it was believable for an“average” person to do more heroic acts,wish was the draw for “Die Hard” This isimportant as superheroes are usually justordinary people who have been givenpowers. It was also past the mid 90s whenthere was a faster rise in the amount ofsuperhero films being realeased.
  8. 8. Applying this to superhero genreSuperheroes are meant to be , an averageperson who is unique in a certain way. Sowith the rise of average looking actionheroes came the rise of superheroes.The way males are represented are usuallyconfident and arent shown to be weak,especially once theyve obtained theirpower, maybe prior to it.
  9. 9. Male Supporting CharacterThis is quite short, but the malesupporting characters withinsuperfilms films can range frombeing cowardly to being strongand useful. They can evenovershadow the hero, if the areacted well. For example, CaptainJack Sparrow pushed himselffrom a supporting role to a maincharacter role through actingalone. There is definitely morechoice for male supportingcharacters especially as theycan appear as “less attractive”(physically and emotionally) onfilms more than their femalecounter-parts
  10. 10. ConclusionFor Women: For Males:If I were to include them in my Though my character can beopening Id probably want to more flawed, if he is the mainestablish the type of character character it is probably wise forshe is going to be throughout the there to be are improvement offilm. Though to be honest Id himself throughout the film to aprobably go for the more well point of being more heroic, likerounded archetypes of female in “Kick-ass”, where thecharacters as it makes them development of the charactermore memorable (for the right ended on a high.reasons) in the long run.