Let’s talk about Marvel’s female lead characters, shall we?
Did you enjoy that rousing discussion? Say what you will about the DC Universe and how it treats its female title characters ,(and we have said a lot already), but at least DC has some. With the cancellation of X-23 and Ghost Rider, though, Marvel’s number of female leads has dropped to a big, fat goose egg.
Ever the idealist, my first thought was that maybe Marvel was planning something major to compete with DC. I always loved Spider-Girl and Marvel talked a big game about re-launching the series with Anya Corazon taking the mantle — then pulled the plug before most of us even knew it existed. (I personally preferred the alternate universe May Parker version who was a girls’ basketball player, but still.)
Before I had much chance to dream of a new woman superhero, though, Marvel’s Senior VP of Publishing Tom Brevoort clarified the company’s feelings about female-led titles in his answer to a question on Formspring.
Q: Do you feel like you have a social (beyond financial) responsibility to feature more female (or other underrepresented minority) headliners in titles? EX: DC has Batgirl & [Bat]Woman, Voodoo, Wonder Woman, but Marvel has no book named after & featuring a woman.
A: I feel like we’ve got a social responsibility to feature characters of all kinds, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that those characters can or have to be headliners. That tends to be defined by the audience and the marketplace. If all of the fans crying for more series with female leads from all of the companies had supported all the ones that were done in the past, this circumstance wouldn’t exist. That said, that doesn’t change the responsibility, but ti [sic] may impact on the manner in which that responsibility plays itself out.
The Mary Sue’s Susana Polo kindly analyzed his statement for us:
“I feel like we’ve got a social responsibility to feature characters of all kinds,” but no responsibility to put women or minorities in prominent character roles or places of great visibility across our line, where they might best attract the kind of viewer looking for signs of diversity in a chronically bland industry. “If all of the fans crying for more series with female leads from all of the companies had” paid us more money for them, then we might have the motivation to do more.
So, what women need to do is spend more money on comics so the publisher will know that women want comics. No matter that said publisher is not publishing comics women want to spend money on. I believe we have entered Opposite World, in which we buy a product we that doesn’t fit in order to prove that we want one that does. Nice.
As DC Women Kicking Ass points out, Marvel actually does itself proud with female creators — it has some of the best. In fact, if you haven’t read Marjorie Liu’s X-23, get it while you can, especially if you’ve been missing the Runaways. I just wish Marvel had believed enough in Liu’s talent to promote the book. As it stands, we’ll have to settle for seeing Marvel women as superhero team members. And according to the company, we have only ourselves to blame.