- Russell Blackford
- Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019) and AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021).
Friday, September 28, 2012
Comics artists, can you please not do this? (Diminishing female characters.)
They are also very powerful characters, and their superpowers are supposedly backed up with high-level athletic training and elite coaching in hand-to-hand combat. In-universe, they are kickass women with high profiles and important connections.
Both of them also have rather dark backgrounds - although they are written as heroes, both started out as villains, and in many ways they can be dangerous to be around.
So why not depict them as athletes and warriors? Why give them these horribly thin, frail-looking bodies ... but with enormous, out-of-proportion, prominently displayed breasts?
I do realise that Thor's waist is also out of proportion, and there's a sort of Mannerist vibe about it all. But what's the first thing you see here? Anna Marie's hanging breasts, as she bends in an awkward position? Wanda's rather startling cleavage?
By all means, artists, give the female heroes and villains sexy, skintight costumes that display their muscles (just like the men here, such as Wolverine crouching in the foreground). I have nothing against any of that. My objections are not based on prudishness or a rejection of the concept of "built" or idealised bodies. But why hold out bodies like this as a female ideal? Have you seen what female athletes actually look like? Even if you claim that the whole image is stylised, this sort of thing is too common, and it seems to be getting worse.
Over the years, Marvel has, to its credit, created many amazing female characters, even if it struggles to give any of them truly iconic status. Rogue and the Scarlet Witch are among them, and both have rich, complex back stories. They are valuable properties with much ongoing potential. I'm sure that many male readers would happily read good stories about them both, without any soft-porn vibe. Just give us those stories ... and let the artwork represent the characters as scarily powerful. That's the way, if you want to make them cool.