'Ms. Marvel' and 'She-Hulk' Make It Clear: The Future of the MCU is Female
One of the privileges of being involved in entertainment is watching franchises you love grow in real time. That privilege can also be extremely frustrating from time to time. All forms of media are gradually learning how to depict strong, well-rounded female characters in their properties. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the comics that inspire it, are no exception.
That’s not to say that there haven’t been feminist comics in the past. Carol Danver’s Captain Marvel is by no means a new character, and Wonder Woman’s been showing the boys how it’s done since 1941. But a few female characters here and there can’t drive progress on their own.
The MCU’s been going strong since 2008. We’ve all followed the many adventures and found ourselves wrapped up in the spectacle of what can truly be described as an epic. With Iron Man came Pepper Potts, one of the most exceptional Marvel women both on-screen. Eventually Black Widow, the incomparable Jane Foster, and the backbone of the MCU, Margaret Peggy Carter, joined the ranks. Every single one of these women have been incredible from their introduction (as have all of the other unstoppable women that followed them), but they were never really given their due on screen.
Black Widow, the sole female member of The Avengers until recently, is only just now getting her own movie. Tony Stark literally can’t tie his shoes without Pepper, but she’s never there as her own woman. We all know how dirty the MCU did Peggy Carter and Jane Foster. My strong personal feelings about the cancellation of Agent Carter aside, the franchise is starting to right some of its wrongs. At the top of that list is finally giving the women their time.
After watching Avengers: Endgame, I wrote a lot about how we were finally starting to see some progress for the women that make up the MCU. Black Panther has such reverence for its women, whether they be royalty or a member of the Dora Milaje. Captain Marvel came crashing into our hearts with nothing to prove to any man. Endgame gave us glimmers of the A-Force that still make my heart soar whenever I think of them. Real, tangible steps are being taken. The argument that those steps have taken too long is incredibly valid. I couldn’t agree with that statement more, but I also know that the future of the MCU is female (and beautifully diverse!).
From the film perspective, we’ve got a glorious slate of films coming our way through 2021. The aforementioned Black Widow finally gets her due (with a Cate Shortland directing, to boot). The Eternals has an incredible cast, including three unbelievably awesome lady heroes in Sersi (Gemma Chan), Ajak (Salma Hayek) and Thena (Angelina Jolie). We don’t know a ton about Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings yet, but we’re finally getting some solid Asian representation up in here, and it’s got Awkwafina! Finally, our girl Jane is about to show Thor and Cap how to put the hammer down in Thor: Love and Thunder. Really, the only Phase 4 film that revolves around a white dude is Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and even that promises to be an exciting offering.
That film slate’s looking pretty hot! Lots of ladies are getting their time in the sun, and even more will be coming to the franchise by way of Disney+. During San Diego Comic Con, we learned that Kate Bishop would be coming out to play in the new Hawkeye series. Never in a million years did I think we’d see Bishop come out to play in this franchise, but that’s not where the wows stopped. Even the criminally underused Scarlet Witch will be getting her own series in WandaVision.
Saving some news for D23, the teams behind the MCU later announced that She-Hulk would be joining the fray, along with confirming Peggy Carter’s return as Captain Britain for their What If…? series. And then there’s the announcement of Ms. Marvel. Like many of the other late-phase small-screen offerings, we have next to no details about the series. What we do know is that Kamala Khan is coming into the MCU right when it needs her most.
Entertainment is a business. Often, businesses will tell consumers what they want to hear so they can continue to take their money. That behavior makes it so important to focus on actions whether than words. While some of my excitement might be a life-long fangirl’s hope shining through, all of these announcements show real steps towards being better from the MCU now that certain folks have removed themselves from the inner workings of the franchise after Phase 3.
There’s still a long way to go, but I’m excited to be a part of the ride.
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