invading the guys’ clubhouse

Last time I described my reaction to finding out that Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) will engage in some superheroics of her own in the new Iron Man movie. As I said, “This puts a smile on my face.”

I’ve been thinking about this. Why does this please me so much? I was surprised at my own enthusiasm.

Is it because I’m really interested in the character? Not really. I read Iron Man comic books decades ago (back when the character was in a book called Tales of Suspense, before he got his own title), but he was never a favorite character, and I didn’t even know about Rescue until I read about her on Wikipedia.

Is it because I’m really into the earlier movies in the series? Definitely not. The first was sort of okay, the second less so (the main things I remember about #2 were some first-class Tony/Pepper bickering and some rather icky leering at Scarlett Johansson).

Is it because I think all female characters should kick ass? No, though I’m fond of a lot of movies where they do. But even in the Resident Evil movies, for example, there are always a variety of female characters who don’t kick ass (in addition to the ones who do). I talked about that here.

(Emerald Barnes wrote a very good post on the yaindie.com site called, “Why your Female Protagonist Doesn’t Have to Kick-Butt to be Liked,” which I referred in my post “I Like a Girl Hero,” but YAIndie seems to have gone away. Too bad.)

And while I certainly do have female characters who do kick ass to a greater or lesser extent, it’s also true that I’ve devoted over 40 years of my life (so far 🙂 ) to writing about a certain very well dressed amateur detective who couldn’t fight her way out of a very thin paper bag.

I think that big grin on my face was partly because the current crop of Marvel movies are such a boys club. Joss Whedon did his best to make Black Widow equal to the guys in The Avengers, and she does have one great scene (the interrogation of Loki), but it’s a boy movie. And it was a boy movie where my favorite two minutes was Tony and Pepper doing their version of The Thin Man.

But in these sorts of movies, if you’re not kicking ass you’re a minor character, no matter how witty your dialog is. There are already rumors that Rescue will be in the second Avengers movie (which I’m sure reflects fan enthusiasm rather than any inside information — though it’s easy to imagine Whedon wanting to go in that direction).

So, it will be interesting to see how this is all handled. The new Iron Man movie could easily be as mediocre as the first two, but this will be enough to get me into the theater.

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