In a revealing exchange during a Thor: Ragnarok press junket, Tessa Thompson – who stars in the film as superhero Valkyrie – reportedly detailed the moment she pitched an all-female Marvel movie to producer Kevin Feige.
Apparently, Feige was impressed by Thompson’s extensive knowledge of the Marvel Comics source material – particularly when she cited team titles such as Lady Liberators as potential movie projects. But, it’s the response he gave that perhaps speaks the loudest volumes.
“[It’s intimidating to be] tapped on the shoulder and turn around to find a gang of the MCU’s female powerhouses, all standing and waiting to hear what you have to say.”
First of all, let’s be honest. As the MCU currently stands, the “gang of the MCU’s female powerhouses” to which Feige refers can only include Valkyrie, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch and Hope Van Dyne. At a push, it might also include Sharon Carter, and perhaps, Agent Hill. Pepper Potts – as depicted in the MCU thus far – is hardly a “powerhouse,” and Agent Carter already died of old age.
This is because, over the course of nine years and 16 films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been packed with male superheroes, while their female counterparts, in comparison, have been few and far between. This is, undoubtedly, why Tessa Thompson mentioned having pitched the idea of an all-female Marvel movie during the junket in the first place.
Thompson cited Lady Liberators because, in its original incarnation, Valkyrie is at its centre – although she’s actually Enchantress in disguise. The story appeared as a single-issue comic book in 1970 and was intended as a satirical response to the rise of feminism. The satire came from the idea that the villain manipulated others by posing as a female liberator, and it involved Black Widow, The Wasp and Medusa.
The Lady Liberators were re-invented in 2008, within the Hulk series, as She-Hulk gathered a new Lady Liberators team to uncover the truth behind Red Hulk. That incarnation involved Black Widow, Spider-Woman, Storm, Invisible Woman, Thundra, Hellcat and Tigra.
The Lady Liberators are not the only example of all-female superhero teams in Marvel, though. There’s also A-Force, which was launched in 2015 by Marguerite Bennett, G. Willow Wilson and Jorge Molina. The A-Force were the defenders of the matriarchal nation of Arcadia, and the team – consisting of Medusa, Dazzler, Singularity, Captain Marvel, and Nico Minoru – was led by She-Hulk.
The point here, though, is the overall gist of Kevin Feige’s response to the idea of an all-female superhero film in the MCU. As has often been the case when he’s asked about making a solo Black Widow movie, he’s fundamentally non-committal in his answer – being careful not to publicly dismiss the notion out of hand, but also not declaring it to be a realistic plan.
This is the absurdity of the issue. While it’s considered the ‘norm’ to have 16 movies which each feature only one or two significant female characters adrift in a sea of testosterone, the idea of having a movie filled with women is one that is strange and intimidating – and apparently requires far more caution on the part of Marvel executives.
Ultimately, however, this attitude is to the great financial detriment of the studio, because – as is about to become abundantly clear – putting Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie in an all-female superhero team, in their own movie, would essentially be a license to print money for Marvel. The evidence for this will be apparent to all, when Thor: Ragnarok arrives in theatres on November 3rd.