Kickass Women and No Clear Heroes – Captain America: Civil War

B and I gave a gorgeous sunny afternoon a miss and went to see Captain America: Civil War on Thursday. Who wants something as boring as non-rainy weather when you can watch Captain America and Iron Man beating the shit out of each other? Not us.

I’d started the day on about three hours of sleep, cranky as shit and ready to beat the shit out of lots of things myself. I ended it too happy and hyper for a nap. I just laid in my bed running scenes through my head and squeeing internally. Overall, it was an excellent addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and all I want to do now is see it again at least once a week until Black Panther, Black Widow, and Scarlet Witch get their own movies.


So. I walked in thinking I was probably #TeamCap, but after about ten minutes found myself switching to #TeamStark, and stayed there provisionally until Tony inevitably fucked up. See, both of them have it right. Tony’s right that they need oversight and laws, that if they don’t submit to those things now, they’ll be destroyed later. And Steve’s right that governments can be corrupt, and the Avengers need some level of autonomy.

B about lost his shit trying to figure out who was right and wrong. I probably shouldn’t have taken as much pleasure in that as I did, but I was really satisfied to see that there weren’t any clear rights and wrongs. That’s how it should have been.

About two-thirds of the way through, I ended up on #TeamBlackWidow, and you can bet your ass that’s where I’m staying. She knows that acting within the law is necessary. She knows that breaking that law to prevent a worse atrocity is sometimes morally required.

I think I would’ve been on Tony’s side all the way if he hadn’t been so quick to sign those accords. I about spit out my drink when he talked about signing now and making adjustments later. Dude, were you asleep during 9/11 and the fucking Patriot Act? Did you not notice that shit we pass in a frenzy of fear, thinking we need to address the immediate security concerns and think it through later, is nearly impossible to change? And that’s just America: one country with one constitution. The UN is a clusterfuck. Every good thing it does takes ages to accomplish. You don’t sign shit there with the idea of improving it later, Tony. You get it right before you sign. Geez.

But that’s Tony Stark: going off half-cocked and fucking everything up is his baseline state. And getting played for a complete fool, doing exactly what the main adversary wanted and needed him to do despite knowing that he’s playing into this asshole’s plans, well. That’s why Tony shouldn’t be in charge of shit.

I spent most of this movie screaming at the boys, “USE YOUR WORDS!!” So much shit wouldn’t have gone down if the guys had just taken a few minutes to talk things through. Men and their need for fisticuffs. Geez. B laughed and nodded every time I scream-whispered it. But I have to admit, there were many times I was very happy they didn’t use their words, because the fight scenes were magnificent. I’m now a firm fan of Ant Man. Who would’ve thought such a silly superpower would turn out to be so interesting in battle? But I’m glad Steve used his words at the end, even if Tony had to read them rather than actually discuss them in person.

Anyway. I want to talk about the women.

First: Marvel needs to give this woman her own movie.

Florence Kasumba
She doesn’t have a name. She’s just Security Chief. She only has two sentences. Doesn’t matter. She owned the screen for those few seconds. They need to come up with an excuse to make her into a superhero. I need a movie with this woman very badly.

I also need a movie each for Scarlet Witch and Black Widow. You know, Scarlet Witch wasn’t one of my favorites before this. Now she is. Goddamn, that woman is a fucking badass. You know what, Marvel? Give me a Black Widow movie and a Scarlet Witch movie, and then give me Black Widow and Scarlet Witch: Fucking Your Shit Up. Then I want Black Widow and Scarlet Witch II: Fucking Everyone’s Shit Up with Security Chief. This needs to be a franchise.

While they’re at it, they need to come up with better costumes for the women. One thing that stuck out horribly to me was the fact that the boys got all the cool costumes with the gadgets and gimmicks, and the women got… tight clothes.

Image shows Scarlet Witch, wearing a long scarlet leather coat, a scarlet corset, and tight black pants.
A fucking corset? For a battle costume? Dudes have obviously never worn one.

Or just clothes.

Image shows Black Widow running across the trunk of a taxi as another taxi driver looks on. She's wearing a tan jacket belted at the waist, black pants, and knee-high boots.
Black Widow has to run to the first battle and fight it in civilian clothes. The boys have their toys. It doesn’t seem fair.

So at least Black Widow’s clothes are generally things a person can move and breathe in, but can we talk about that corset on Scarlet Witch for a minute? I love corsets, people. I love the way they look. But there is no fucking way I’d want to wear one into a battle. All I could think of was the fact that poor girl probably couldn’t breathe. Well, I thought that for a few minutes, until she began kicking ass to a degree I never thought I’d see in a woman outside of Black Widow.

I think I know why the women don’t have fancy-schmancy costumes like the boys do. They’re already capable of taking over the fucking world. The men are probably terrified of what would happen if they were given clothing that enhanced their power. As they should be.

That’s something I really appreciated about this movie: the women were brutal and damned near unstoppable even without all the equipment the guys got. Natasha fucking stabbed Crossbones in the neck and lived to tell the tale. When she decides to clear a room of hostiles, that room bloody well gets cleared. She doesn’t have superpowers or special equipment, because she pretty much just doesn’t need it. And she’s the smartest one in the entire film. She’s the one with the most agency. She’s not driven into foolishness by her emotions, like Tony or T’Challa. She signs the accords for her own well-considered reasons, and breaks ranks with Tony to help Steve when he convinces her he’s got a good reason for what he’s doing. She’s her own person.

And Wanda? She makes a mistake doing the right thing. That mistake shakes her. It doesn’t reduce her to a wrecked, helpless mess. She feels her feels, then she chooses her side, and she acts, and she is fucking incredible. She saves Captain America, for fuck’s sake. She’s just this sweet young thing, and they let her save the great American hero, and they don’t even make a huge big deal of it. She’s just one of the team. They let her have powers that are nearly impossible to defeat, and they let her take damage just like the dudes. It’s magnificent.

The fact none of the women need as much technological assistance as the men to be fucking badass is delightful to me. This is the kind of shit I want to see, even though I do hope they give the girls a costume upgrade soon.

And there weren’t any ridiculous romances or sexist shit that I noticed. I’m fucking amazed. The closest we got to an issue was the fact they made Aunt May so damned young, and Tony commenting on how hot she is. But: it’s Tony, so of course. And when I thought about it, she was about the right age to be a high school kids aunt. I miss elderly May, but this one works. Especially when I think about the fact that they allowed a middle-aged woman to be seen as attractive rather than invisible. Women just tend to vanish from their forties to their mid-sixties in too much media. You’re either playing young sex object or matron: there’s almost no room for women hitting their midlife, and when we do see them, they’re too often played off as desperate cougars. May wasn’t. So that was awesome. I hope that happy state of affairs continues, and we get more women of that age being allowed to be sexy and self-confident, desired and respected. I love it.

Add in the fact that they had three black main characters, and this movie is pretty much just SJW heaven. Now all we need is for Cap to come out as bi, introduce a woman of color or two, and a trans hero, and we’ll be super.

Bottom line: I have officially become a huge Marvel fangirl. I’m so sorry, DC. It was nice back in the day, and I had a good time with you, but we’ve kinda grown apart. Marvel is doing and saying many of the right things. They ain’t perfect, but they’re a damned sight better than you right now.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go have a complete squee meltdown over the fact they’re filming Jessica Jones and The Defenders back-to-back. People, when those shows drop, I am sorry, but I won’t be available for a couple of weeks. I’ll be too busy mainlining Marvel.

Image is a promotional poster for Civil War. On the left are Iron Man, Black Widow, Black Panther, The Vision, and War Machine. On the right is Captain America, Winter Soldier, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Falcon. Cap's shield forms the background.

Kickass Women and No Clear Heroes – Captain America: Civil War