Superheroines and Sexism: Female Representation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Keywords:sexism, feminism, feminist film theory, marvel, MCU, superheroes, marvel cinematic universe, superheroines, female, female representation
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is the highest-grossing film franchise of all time and since the premiere of Iron Man in 2008, it has risen to fame as a source of science-fiction entertainment. Sexism in the film industry often goes brushed aside but the widespread success of Marvel Studios calls attention to their treatment of gender roles. This paper explores the progression of six female superheroes in the MCU and what effect feminist movements have had on their roles as well as upcoming productions in the franchise. This paper used an interdisciplinary, mixed-methods design that studied movie scripts and screen time graphs. 14 MCU movies were analyzed through a feminist film theory lens and whenever a female character of interest was chosen, notes were taken on aspects including, but not limited to, dialogue, costume design, and character relationships. My findings showed that females in the MCU are heavily sexualized by directors, costume designers, and even their male co-stars. As powerful as some of these women were found to be, it was concluded that Marvel lacks in female inclusivity. Marvel’s upcoming productions, many of which are female-focused, still marginalize the roles of their superheroines which is a concern for the future of the film industry. Marvel is just one franchise but this study shows how their treatment of female characters uphold patriarchal structures and perpetuate harmful stereotypes that need to be corrected in the film industry as a whole.
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