Spoiler Alert: If you plan on seeing the new Avenger's movie, you might want to save reading this post until after you see it. I mention some details that are not huge giveaways, but they are surprises.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is on track to be one of the top grossing movies of all time. Considering how much I enjoyed the first one, I was looking forward to joining the crowd to see another thrilling Avengers film.
The movie is big on action and not so big on character development (for me, a major disappointment). An even bigger disappointment was the portrayal of women. As women continue to fight for their equal place in society, it was hard for me to fathom that the producers of this sure-to-be megahit decided to use outdated stereotypes for two of the women in the film.
One of them is Hawkeye's wife. (Yes, he has been secretly married with two kids and one on the way.) We meet Laura Barton at their secluded country home, the perfect hideaway for the Avengers to regroup after losing a battle. Here we find a classic stereotypical couple: hubby goes off to defeat the forces of evil while pregnant wifey stays home to manage the household (in this case in the middle of nowhere) with no sign of any other support to help her get through the who-knows-how-long days until her victorious husband returns to a well-maintained house and a good home cooked meal.
The second is Black Widow. We learn in a revealing moment with love interest Bruce Banner that her training included sterilization. In this character, we have a beautiful superwoman who can compete with the guys on the battlefield but she will never be a mother. The not-so-subtle message here is, "the only way for a woman to play hard with the boys is if she gives up motherhood and part of her femininity."
There is truth that a mother, who in most cases would not want her children to go to war, would probably not want to go to war herself. But if the characters in the movie are to inspire us to be our best in any arena where we want to succeed, the message for women is distorted. Obviously, their choices are not limited to only being a mother or a super achiever without any hope for motherhood.
We need portrayals of the feminine archetype that speak to the aspirations of the current generation -- ones that are more refined, more subtle, and more fully personal. In this way, the film failed. We also desperately need women to bring their talents into all aspects of life to help rebalance our testosterone-fueled world.
I would love to see the producers of the next Avengers movie take up the challenge to expand how women are portrayed in the film. Additionally, how about they balance the male-female ratio of Avengers? Or even more radical, how about Marvel hiring a female screenwriter to add a feminine perspective to the story line? As always, I welcome your comments and insights.