College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date

7-2014

Document Type

Thesis

College/Department Conferring Degree

Interdisciplinary Studies

Keywords

Marvel Avengers, postfeminism, film analysis, stereotypes, feminist cinematic discourse

Abstract

The cinematic Marvel Avengers series centers on larger than life male figures and leaves little space for fully developed female characters, relying instead on female tropes, stereotypes, and patriarchal constructions that present uncritical and monolithic representations of women. This thesis examines female characters in the Marvel Avengers series and uses them to exemplify and probe the woeful lack of meaningful representation of women in film. Widespread social contexts of sexism and postfeminism construct female representations that appear to empower but actually disempower women, and is subconsciously received. This series reinforces sexism and false postfeminist ideology through a combination of (1) power dynamics in which gender roles maintain and naturalize power divisions; (2) visuals in which the cinematic male gaze privileges the objectified female image; (3) narratives in which stereotypes, tropes, and binaries create monolithic representations of women that subconsciously inform female gender roles and sexuality; and (4) language constructions in which females are linguistically disempowered and essentialized. Reasons for such underwhelming representations of women, such as the lack of female presence in creation, production, and distribution of film historically and currently, and inherent problems within the superhero genre’s film adaptation are also discussed.

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