No Blockbuster-Check: Spider-Man: Homecoming – Cut the Crap!
Actually, I wanted to write a regular Blockbuster-Check on Spider-Man: Homecoming, analyze different ascpects of the film, especially the female characters, from a feminist standpoint. However, with this movie Marvel grows beyond itself in respect to the astonishing marginaliziation of female characters so typical for its superhero flicks. And I see myself unable to analyze something which is just NOT THERE!
Spider-Man: Homecoming has no female characters that could be described as female * heroines. The very few women* and girls* of the story have blatantly little screentime and even less dialogue. Never before were Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) or MJ, who doesn’t reveal herself until the very last minutes of the film anyways, so dispensable for the plot. The side of evil does not include a single woman*. And Peter Parker’s love interest Liz (Laura Harrier) is basically a projection of male desire as well as a pure vehicle to exacerbate the conflict between the hero and the villain. Looking at the two previous Spider-Man franchises, Spider-Man: Homecoming is a huge step back in respect to the depiction of gender roles. And please do not argue that this is a film about a young man* after all. Wonder Woman, for example, is a film about a woman but still leaves so, so much space (too much, if you ask me) for male heroic figures. There is really no excuse for the blatant absence of female* people in Spider-Man: Homecoming. NO EXCUSE!
Therefore, tearing another marvel film to pieces, this time I rather want to show how easy it would have been to give women a small space in the on screen world of Spider-Man: Homecoming:
- Peter Parker’s sidekick Ned (Jacob Batalon) could be a girl*.
- Villain Vulture (Michael Keaotn) could have a few women in his crew.
- Peter Parker’s science club could be run by a female* instead of a male* teacher.
- Aunt May could have a real plotline that goes beyond emphasizing Peter’s protective instinct for his “mother”.
- Likewise, Liz could have a real personality, perhaps even an influence on the course of events.
- Putting larger groups of people on screen, the co-director could use just as many female as male extras.
- And instead of Happy (Jon Favreau), Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) could just as well act as a contact person for Peter Parker within the Stark empire.
And this is just what I spontaneoulsy came up with. There are plenty of ways how to create a movie world that doesn’t exclusively consist of cis-male characters.
When I left the cinema, I was truly pissed. Spider-Man: Homecoming is one of those films that as a mainstream blockbuster not only reach a large, but also a particularly young audience. This is a film that serves children and teenagers as a modern day myth, a story that gives them ideas about themselves and the world they live in: While boys* must be strong and heroic in order to be recgonized, girls* and women* are almost absent and if they do appear, there are present as mothers or objects of desire. For a movie of 2017, the year in which Wonder Woman set new standards for blockbuster cinema and we seriously started to discuss gender roles in film and television (though in Germany we are still in the early stages of this discourse) Spider-Man: Homecoming can only be taken as an offense.
What annoys me even more than movie makers who obviously do not even notice that they set their stories in a society from the 1950s, are the reactions of the alleged “critics” of contemporary cinema as well as the audiences. I cannot comprehend how it is even possible to review this film without referring to the blatant absence of female characters! And it is a complete mystery to me how people can watch this film without getting sick from the redundant testosterone overdoese. I do not understand why we don’t get outspokenly angry about films like this!
When I recently interviewd Swiss director Petra Volpe about her film The Divine Order, she argued for more active resistance to contemporary grievances – just like her heroines leave their cozy homes to fight for the female* vote in Switzerland. And after watching Spider-Man: Homeocoming I really feal like going on strike for better movies. Because seriously: It is enough!! Why not boycott films like Spider-Man: Homecoming by not going to the cinema and asking friends to do the same? Why not publicly articulate that we are sick of these stories? Why not call for filmmakers two think twice about their female characters? I think we should do it like Wonder Woman, turn our rage into the strength to rebel.