The Problem With Marvel That No One Wants To Talk About
….. as poor representation of women rears its ugly head again
As a rule of thumb, I like to refrain from using the words ‘Ok’ and ‘different’ when describing a movie.
Putting aside the overall lack of imagination in the words, these words don’t really say much.
It has been my experience that critics often use the words when trying to sugarcoat things, or in this case films, that they love but are a colossal disappointment.
So consider the text the exception to the rule.
In a word, ‘Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ is different!
It has very dark undertones, yet treads the PG ratings of most MCU and Disney projects.
The film introduces us to America Chavez (Xochitl Gómez) a young teenager who is on the run from a slew of demons who want to kill her and take her very special superpower: The ability to traverse the multiverse.
Chavez makes her way to Earth-616, the version of our planet that exists within the fiction of the MCU, pursued by a giant octopus demon.
Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wong (Benedict Wong) save her before she’s devoured.
It is soon revealed that said dead monster has traces of witchcraft rather than magic, which leads Strange onto the doorsteps of a fellow Avengers and the recently christened Scarlet Witch- Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen).
Not long after trying to enlist Maximoff’s help, it is revealed she is in actual fact the person responsible for all these demons trying to kill Chavez.
Her motive is to harness Chavez’s ability to travel across the Multiverse so she can be with her children, the ones she created during last year’s WandaVision series.
The Problem With Marvel That No One Wants To Talk About-Wanda Maximoff
The three- Strange, Chavez and Wanda- spend the rest of the movie playing cat-and-mouse games as they travel across alternate realities.
Now, for the most part, the movie is quite entertaining and has strong performances from Cumberbatch and Olsen, many enjoyable Easter eggs, and great visuals and action from the directorial genius of Sami Raimi.
The problem, however, arises in the overall presentation and depiction of Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff, which when traced back comes back to Marvel’s weakness when it comes to women.
If they are not being presented as eye-candy and love interests for their male characters, their roles are either neutered or ignored completely.
Under this category, names like Natasha Romanova (Scarlett Johansson), Pepper Pots (Gwyneth Paltrow), Christine Palmer (Rachel Adams), Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), MJ (Zendaya), Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) and countless others.
Marvel’s Women Avengers-Image Credit Online
To give you just a brief history on how poorly women have been treated, Carol Danvers is by far the strongest being in the entire MCU but the Captain Marvel movie received a late entry and her appearances since have been few and far in-between.
Palmer and Jane Foster have been background characters for the longest time, while MJ and Pepper Pots are only relevant as love interests.
For years, fans clamoured for a Black Widow movie with their cries falling on deaf ears.
When the film did finally come, Scarlett Johansson’s character was already dead with the movie having no impact or effect on the overall story.
Disney even robbed her of the opportunity of making more money out of the movie, which resulted in a court case and settlement.
For the crimes against women in the MCU over the years, the biggest victim of said injustice has to be Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff.
This is a woman who developed a relationship with a synthezoid (Vision), got heartbroken and enslaved a town so she could recreate life with it.
In the process, she conjured up two imaginary kids, Wiccan (Julian) and Tommy (Jett Klyne) who then form the basis of Maximoff going evil.
The loss of her imaginary children leads her to read the Darkhold and go on a killing spree across universes as she looks for a way to reunite with her fake children.
In as far as motives go, this has to be one of the worst!
I mean, both Cumberbatch and Olsen deserve honorary Oscars and a bonus for how they make this weak plot and story watchable.
While the likes of Steve Rogers have epic love stories with a woman that he never actually dated (Peggy Carter), Wanda is stuck with falling for a robot of sorts and conjuring up fake children.
While Cumberbatch’s Dr. Strange seems to be drawn towards Christine Palmer, Wanda has a synthezoid for a mate and fake children.
The fact that Olsen is able to utter the line “I’m not a monster, Stephen. I’m a mother” without breaking should earn her a second honorary Oscar award.
The writers have tried to make Wanda Maximoff one of the most tragic characters in the MCU and failed.
Killing her brother, robot boyfriend and fake kids doesn’t really scream “epic tragedy’, it really doesn’t.
Hopefully, Olsen will either take some time away from that terrible accent and do other projects, or this is the end of one of the worst written characters in the MCU.