On Monday, Nov. 12, Stan Lee, co-creator of Marvel comics and patron saint of all superhero lovers, died at the…
On Monday, Nov. 12, Stan Lee, co-creator of Marvel comics and patron saint of all superhero lovers, died at the age of 95. It’s hard to put into words just how big a legacy he leaves. The Man created some of the most enduring fictional characters in comics and beyond – the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Black Panther, and so many others. Men, Lee var ikke uden hans fejl, og den fandom han skabte var og forblod utvilsomt flawed. And to exist in the Marvel fandom as a woman is to love the evolution of the comics and the characters, if not necessarily their world overall.
I first became a Marvel fan as a teen after watching the wave of early 2000s Marvel adaptations ̵
1; Spider-Man (2002), X-Men (2000), and Fantastic Four (2005) – while watching Tobey Maguire jump around New York City and lusting after Chris Evans was thrilling, I did not totally fall in love until Captain America: The First Avenger . That film showed how the comic book movie genre could challenge action movie tropes, and that a Hollywood blockbuster literally called Captain America could both question American patriotism and propaganda and feature an anti-damsel in distress love interest like Peggy Carter certainly did not hurt either. msmarvel / tumblr.
Eventually, my love of Marvel movies grew so intensely that I thought it was time to take my fandom to the next level by signing up for a college course on the graphic novel. I hope it would lead to a comics obsession, but spoiler alert: it did not. The first comic we read was one of the very first Fantastic Four issues, and let me tell you, I’ve never struggled so much to get through a 20-page page reading assignment. The characters were imaginative, fun, and infectious, but I found myself utterly bored by the emphasis on white men and the consistent sidelining of the female characters.
Marvel was not alone in this, not by a long shot as DC and other publishers have also long been guilty of sexism in their comics (just read early Lois Lane comics if you do not believe Me). Men det faktum er at jeg lærte at læse disse komiker og se på filmene er at Marvels historie av sidelinjen kvinner og folk av farger er ikke noe jeg er villig til å ignorere. I can not just embrace all of Marvel as a whole, nor can I be too precious about the original (and sometimes offensive) material. What I can do is look at the evolution of these beloved characters and stories, and I can love and respect that instead.
Take Black Panther. In 1966, Marvel created the first major black superhero in pop culture, but his portrayal was not without problems. The Ringer notes that the first panel that mentions him, from Fantastic Four no. 52, features The Thing referring to Black Panther as “some refugee from a Tarzan movie” and does not even feature T’Challa himself. Over de tijd, echter, en over het team van meerdere schrijvers en artiesten, veranderde de karakter van Black Panther, tot uiteindelijk, werd hij niet alleen een meer goed afgerond en complex karakter, maar ook de leiding van een van Marvel’s most succesvolle films to date.
It’s an evolution you can also see onscreen in the MCU with its female characters. When Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow was introduced in Iron Man 2 (2010), it was not as an ex-Russian spy turned superhero, but just as Tony Stark’s sexy secretary “Natalie.” One scene even showed pictures of her in lingerie. It was sexist and offensive, but over the last eight years and almost as many movies, Black Widow has transformed into a fierce warrior. These days, she is on equal footing with her male counterparts like Tony Stark and Captain America.
Black Widow’s evolution was not perfect, just as Black Panther was not perfect, because Marvel itself is not perfect. As a female fan, I can not accept everything Marvel gives me blindly, and as an Asian American, a member of an ethnic group, all too often ignored or stereotyped by superhero stories, I refuse two. But neither can I turn my back on the whole franchise. I love it too much. I love watching good guys defeat bad guys. I love watching Bruce Banner struggle with his humanity and the anger inside of him. I love that I get to watch women like Scarlet Witch, Valkyrie, and Gamora become three-dimensional characters who are also great at kicking butt.
dailymarvelheroes / tumblr
But to love Marvel, for me, does not mean loving its flaws. I can not love how Mantis was repeatedly called Ugly by Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, or how Doctor Strange whitewashed the character of the Ancient One, or how under-written the female characters of Spider-Man: Homecoming were. I definitely Captain Marvel will be the MCU’s first movie with a female superhero headliner. Og ég kan absolutt ikke forkasta de påståenden om seksuell misconduct levied mot Lee, en fra en massageterapeut i Chicago, och andra från ett sjuksköterska som hävdade att han hade sexuellt trakasserade flera kvinnliga sjuksköterskor. (Lee denied all allegations against him.)
I love what Marvel has given me so far, but I demand more. And what I love most about being a female Marvel fan is what I hope it will give me in the future: a world full of superheroes of all ethnicities and gender identities. A world where everyone can find a superhero that speaks to them.