Black Widow and the Marvel Girls quantitative study

In 2015 I attended a talk by Heather M. Porter, whose real job is/was producing reality shows in LA.

The talk she gave looked at 9 of 10 movies, not Hulk, which featured Black Widow.

Black Widow basics:
First appeared in 1964
Joined Avengers in 1966
8 issues of own comic in 1970s
appearances in other comics until 2010…
In Iron Man 2 in 2010
Relaunched series in 2010
Action figures
Solo movie

Bechdel test
Had to appear in 2 of the films
Bechdel test (2 named female characters, talk to each other, not about a man)
Avengers doesn’t pass.

Many films that pass with poor depictions of women.
Major issue of this test is that it only requires small changes.
Fails to look at bigger issues.

Complete female character
Named, speaking character
Has a back story
Has a personality and skills that define them beyond their looks
Has agency
Has flaws
Has audience relate-ability

Black Widow character development
Spy from childhood, originally Russian KGB
Many espionage skills
Out to make amends for her past
Dark past and is cocky
Can be vulnerable, cares for her team members

Quantity is also important
Screen Time –how long on screen
Scenes—how many scenes appeared in

Black Widow 21% of Iron Man2
Avengers 27%
other 29%

Women in each movie
27%, 38%, 49%, 35%, 41% 26%, 58%, 40%
(through the different movies)

conclusions:
trend of increasing complete female characters
Black Widow carries through most movies.
Not a lot of characters carry through.
Phase Three shows promise of more of these characters with Captain Marvel movie on the slate.

Domestically only $3B

19th movie before woman lead
Black Widow won’t have her own.

Gina Davis Disparity
29% of speaking roles in all movies
2.42 men = 1 woman

Heather M. Porter now has a chapter published in Marvel’s Black Widow: From Spy to Superhero edited by Sherry Ginn. Here is a link to the Kindle version.

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