13 thoughts on “What If The Male Avengers Posed Like The Female One?

  1. I’ve never really understood what cartoons like this are meant to show (aside from being a bit of humor)…The men in the original are over-exemplifying stereotypically desirable masculine traits – their shoulders are broad, their chests are flexed, and their crotches are thrust forward, and they are striking aggressive/dominant poses. The breasts and buttocks of the (lone) woman in the original are accentuated more than any of her other features, but it does not seem (at least to me) that she is being objectified more than the men – all of them set standards of human ‘attractiveness’ that are unrealistic and unachievable.

    Maybe the point is that it seems strange when we flip these characteristics, and there is no (normative? non-social?) reason for this strangeness?

  2. If you poke around on Tumblr, there are a lot of good posts making fun of comic book poses. I recall one series where a large number of people photographed themselves sitting on the couch with their boobs and butts facing the camera like a woman in a recent Spider-Man comic.

  3. @JT

    It’s just the poses; you could replace the male Avenger’s with female characters in the exact same poses and it wouldn’t look strange, but it doesn’t work the other way around.

    The physiques of the men are, as you note, just as stereotyped as that of the woman in the picture and not really relevant to the artist’s satire.

  4. Grrr! First Hulk set unachievable standard of human attractiveness! Then Hulk SMASH!

    On the list of unrealistic and unachievable human standards set by these characters, let’s not forget flying, bench pressing a bus, and deflecting bullets.

    Seriously, though, unlike many other examples from comicdom, the original picture actually doesn’t provide very good fodder for the parodist, who has to try too hard to achieve the desired effect. It’s not the woman’s *pose* that is radically different from the men’s; it’s what the French would call her “ligne” – the contrast arises from the original artist’s having drawn both the men and the woman in a way that accentuates human sexual dimorphism.

    That’s why the parodist actually has to resort not to pose-swapping but to fiddling around with morphology (notably, er, gluteal adiposity) in order to achieve the male-female reversal he or she is going for. (That’s a fail, in my book.)

    On another note, here’s a fun article from FemPop about the portrayal of women in the Avengers movie:


  5. I was really thriled with what Joss Whedon did with the Avengers actually. First, he helped turn around that horrible ending to Iron Man II, where Pepper Potts seems to just have this emotional breakdown because everything’s so scary and overwhelming– her bit in this film was exponentially better, and there’s even some joking around about Tony Stark not giving her enough credit where credit is due. The Black Widow’s fight scene’s were no longer awkward and seemingly purposely sexualized. She’s portrayed as smart, cunning, and powerful– despite her abilities being natural rather than the result of experiment, technology, etc– and it’s her who comes up with the idea that’s able to end the final battle. All in all, I thought it was pretty awesome on the gender front, as far as pop films go.

  6. Isn’t it obvious that the Avengers cartoonists are sexist. All we need to do is look at the poster. I don’t see why some people don’t get that.

  7. There’s clearly an asymmetry in what’s unrealistic about the depictions of the males in this picture versus the depictions of Black Widow. The males are portrayed as unrealistically skilled, strong and enviable (corresponding with what you might call a male power fantasy). Black Widow is portrayed as something sexually desireable (corresponding with what you might call a straight male sexual fantasy).

    One of the things that’s being highlighted in the parody image is that a major contributor to Black Widow’s unnecessarily sexualized portrayal is her pose (this pose has a name, the “Brokeback”, because she has to be positioned in a way that borders on the physiologically impossible in order to show the reader BOTH her butt and her breasts. Cf. thebrokebackpose.tumblr.com/ for more examples).

    I second Kathryn’s relief that the Avengers film was able to avoid many of these sorts of problems, and portray its female characters as human beings (and, in the case of Black Widow, extremely-super-awesome human beings).

  8. ZeeP,

    Interestingly, though, in my view Black Widow’s original pose falls short of the “brokeback”; it strikes me as spinally plausible. It’s only the *men in the parody* that have been placed in a “brokeback” posture – which reinforces my initial impression that the parodist resorted to more than the source material presented him/her with in order to make a point (a point that could be made much more validly about other comic depictions than about the original picture here). One might say it’s the visual equivalent of a strawman critique.

  9. I kind of agree with nemo on this one. There was a discussion on feminist philosophers a month or so ago about comic book representations of women, and there are certainly many examples of problematic oversexualized and demeaning representations of women in comic books. (there were many fitting instances shown in a link in that blogpost of the style of parody of which the above image is an instance.) I don’t think this particular poster is problematic though. Her pose is not particularly sexualized — her attention is directed at whomever she is aiming at with her arm blaster, and her stance is powerful, rather than directed towards the viewer in a submissive posture. (And she’s not brokebacked, inmho.)

    That said, this is the sort of thing that I think reasonable people could see in different ways, especially since there are so many comic book covers that really are worthy of such parody…. I’m just not feeling that this particular image is aptly parodied.

    (And, btw, Avengers was a really fun movie! Joss Whedon did a great job with the script.)

  10. Suggestion: search “broke back comic” for lots more entertaining & informative sites. (Note that the phrase is 2 words.)

  11. ALL superhero movies are inherantly sexist. Why else would Hollywood consistently make them?

Comments are closed.