The Avengers: Compared and Contrasted
Last week I talked a little bit about the movie Oblivion, and how I found it ultimately disappointing and fairly sexist.
In contrast, I watched The Avengers (Here thar be spoilers. If you haven't seen this movie, get off my blog. No, seriously go watch it, then come back.), and was immediately struck by how beautifully and effortlessly Joss and the team smash not only the obvious gender roles (like having Black Widow nonchalantly kick serious ass in the first 10 minutes of the film), but also pay attention to the little details, that make me feel like maybe, just maybe, they consider women to be people, not set dressing. Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) could easily have been played by a male. To me, that's one way you can tell if a female character like that is well written. She gets the job done, she doesn't get hysterical, but she's just a person. Like Fury. You could easily swap the actors (aside from some fans freaking out about a female Fury and calling it a gimmick).
I love the power dynamic between Natasha and Bruce when she's recruiting him. She's so calm, and very clearly sure she can kick his ass at any point- provided he doesn't turn into a gigantic green monster. And when he makes her think that might be about to happen, does she cry and whine like Julia in the spacey-jet thing? No. She calmly pulls a gun. (This scene, by the way, is phenomenally acted by Scarlett Johansson. She cocks her gun, pulls her head back just a bit, and her eyes look like she's tearing up, but she doesn't cry. She's just waiting, gun cocked, head averted, to see what happens next.)
Even when The Hulk is chasing her, she's not screaming (here's where you want me to say, "like a little girl" but I'm not going to) hysterically, she's running away, hiding silently, climbing with purpose and a plan. Like a male character would in an action movie. Like, say, Tom Cruise's character in M:I, just to take a completely random example. (Maybe not that random.)
But all that aside. Sometimes the little details make a huge difference. Let me tell you about a little detail that impacted my enjoyment of these movies. In Oblivion, Vika walks around their
refrigerator condo in the sky in five inch heels and a tight little dress. She looks like a 1950s housewife, and acts like one as well.
I was going to post a picture of Vika here, but found the image too distressing.
In contrast, let's talk about Pepper Potts. She dresses up when she needs to, when she's going into the office or representing Stark industries. She is the picture of a professional woman. Feminine and powerful. (I don't personally agree with this picture as having completely evolved yet, but that's another blog post.)
BUT. But, but, but...
When Pepper is lounging around Tony's apartment at Stark tower, what is she wearing? Jeans shorts and a button down shirt (which looks like cotton to me, so, comfortable and serviceable). The shorts are short, but they're also loose, and her shirt is only half tucked in. She still looks fabulous (unless you're one of those nutjobs who thinks Gwyneth isn't pretty, and frankly that has nothing to do with what she's wearing). But she also looks comfortable, and casual. And. She's barefoot. Yep. No spiked heels for Pepper when she's chillin' out at home. Her hair is just down. She might have done nothing more than run a comb through it when she woke up that morning. (Believe me, I lived with a beautiful blonde with naturally straight hair for two years, it's possible.)
And then there's Black Widow's manipulation of Loki. She allows him to think he's broken through and made her cry like a girl, but in reality she is always in control of the questioning. She lets him think that he's exploiting her feminine side.
Oh, I promised I'd get back to Jack's name, didn't I? Jack Harper. Sounds an awful lot like Jack Harkness to me. Now, maybe the writers just aren't Whovians, maybe it's just a strong male name, and it's a coincidence. It could totally be a coincidence. Right?
Oblivion is not a very good movie. It is pretty though, I'll give it that. The Avengers is a freaking amazing movie. And also pretty. And funny. And clever.