Black Widow fans are once again left out in the cold when it
comes to Avengers merchandise.
As the eagle-eyed Sam Maggs at The Mary Sue pointed out, the
flood of Avengers: Age of Ultron
merch unleashed upon the masses by Disney and Marvel yesterday has hardly a Natasha
Romanoff in the bunch. How is it possible that so many shirts and swag are
emblazoned with every Avenger — if not several of them — but Black Widow
offerings are so few and far between? The official Marvel store has a Black
Widow mug, mousepad, and T-shirt available, but that's slim pickings compared
to the costumes, hoodies, and sleepwear available for fans of Thor, Iron Man,
and the Hulk. (A mousepad? Seriously?! Who wouldn't rather snag a set of Hulk hands over a mousepad?) How crazy is it that a character played by Scarlett Johansson, who can rock a global box office with Lucy, is given short shrift in the merch department?
A former Marvel employee penned an anonymous op-ed earlier
this month for The Mary Sue about why and how Marvel is omitting female
characters from merchandise, and it's definitely worth a read — especially if
you want to understand marketing and licensing. As per the writer,
"Disney bought Marvel and Lucasfilm because they wanted to access the male
market. To achieve this goal, they allocate less to Marvel's female demo, and
even less to a unisex one. They won't be interested in changing how they work until
consumers understand what's going on."
While it seems like a small thing to make a fuss over, it points to the bigger problems of representation in the world of superheroes and superheroines, and the behind-the-scenes kerfuffle behind projects like Wonder Woman. As Monika Bartyzel writes over at Forbes, "The conversation continually focuses on whether Wonder Woman can be
adapted, as if her heroism is peculiar and hard to capture in a
landscape that has made massive money with a talking tree and racoon." Forget about getting her own stand-alone movie; Black Widow can barely even get her own T-shirts, that, as Hello Giggles points out, people want to buy.
We all know that money talks, so if fans start handing over their cash to indie ventures like WeLoveFine, eventually the big companies
will have to listen. Or, you know, just start reading and supporting smaller,
more diverse comics and their creators. We're just sayin'. (The Mary Sue)