Guardians of the Galaxy
Sophistication of Story: This film introduces the politics of space in the Marvel universe. You learn about the Nova Corps, and some of the class distinctions of different alien species and characters.
Contribution to the Overall Avengers Storyline: This film introduces the space characters. While Thor is from another planet, we have only seen him on either Earth, Asgard, or another planet, not in space. It also introduces Thanos in a larger way than we have seen before, including the introduction of two of his daughters.
Infinity Stones: This film introduces the Power Stone, which is given to the Nova Corps for safe-keeping at the end of the film.
Villain: Ronan, and to a degree, Thanos
Feminist Level: There are a lot of sexist aspects to the humor in GotG. There is the beginning scene when Quill has forgotten about a one-night stand, which is presented as funny. There are many other sexist jokes throughout the film as well.
Does it pass the Bechdel Test: Yes (Though it is arguable, because almost every exchange between Gamora and Nebula is about their father or Ronan. You have to pick out very short lines of dialogue to get to the yes).
Does it pass the Race Bechdel Test: No
Ratio of Male:Female Characters:
-3 for more than triple the number of male characters to female characters
-1 for the disposable, forgotten one-night stand at the beginning
-1 for Drax calling Gamora a whore
-1 for the collector’s assistant cleaning before blowing up
+1 for Nova Prime being in charge of the Nova Corps
+1 for Gamora being the moral center and an active character with agency
+1 for a relationship between sisters that is not in a romantic comedy
Total: 2/10 – So really, not great. The film is good, but it is definitely not feminist. A large degree of this is just a result of there being so many characters, and so few of them being men, as well as using the Han Solo/Indiana Jones trope for Star Lord, which is archaic at this point.
Is the film worth watching: Yes, as it is an amusing and entertaining film and sets up the space characters.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Sophistication of Story: This film is taking artificial intelligence to its extreme, and seeing what happens. How do the Avengers fight technology? It doesn’t quite live up to the first Avengers film, but it’s also a lot better than many would have you believe.
Contribution to the Overall Avengers Storyline: This film introduces Vision, a character that is created with the power from an infinity stone, the Mind Stone.
Infinity Stones: The mind stone, which is the stone in Loki’s scepter, is presumably what gives Scarlet Witch and her brother powers. It is also the stone used to create Vision.
Villain: Ultron, a “murder robot” as Banner calls him, who wants to destroy all humans to make the world peaceful. I guess being a robot, some things get lost in translation.
Feminist Level: A major positive for this film on the feminist side is the introduction of Scarlet Witch, who is only the second female Avenger, even this many movies in. She is also the first female Avenger with powers. The whole lullaby thing is weird, but is it sexist? Of the Avengers, most of them aren’t exactly in any way gentle. Natasha is the only one we have seen establish any kind of relationship with Banner, in the first Avengers film.
Does it pass the Bechdel Test: Yes, but by a hair. Considering the number of major female characters, you would think they would have spoken to each other. It only passes by the conversation between Natasha and Laura (Hawkeye’s wife).
Does it pass the race Bechdel Test: No. And again, there were multiple people of color in the film portraying major characters, but they never speak to each other.
Ratio of Male:Female Characters:
-2 for more than double the number of male characters to female characters
-2 for Natasha’s visions to be about getting sterilized – everything about women doesn’t need to come down to procreation
-1 for the shoe horned Natasha/Bruce Banner romance
-1 for Natasha getting kidnapped by Ultron
-1 for Tony’s sexist “hide the zuchinni” joke
+2 for the introduction of Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
+1 for putting the Natasha/Barton romance idea to rest by giving Barton a family
+1 for Wanda realizing they shouldn’t side with Ultron because he’s crazy
+1 for Wanda’s mistake leading to that awesome exit from the building in Sokovia after Hawkeye’s pep talk, a subversion of the normal female character giving the male hero the “you can do it” speech
+1 for a male character’s (Quicksilver) death serving as a catalyst for a female character’s development (Wanda)
+1 for Natasha being one of the Avengers in charge of training and Wanda being a new Avenger
Total: 5/10 – In comparison to the first Avengers, this film has the potential to be much more feminist, and yet somehow, it fails to do that by sidelining characters or just not giving them much to work with.
Is the film worth watching: Yes, the film is entertaining, and an essential part of the Avengers storyline. Scenes and lines are referenced again in later films.
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