You can read someone’s reviews and think to yourself “no accounting for taste” and disagree with them or sometimes you read a review and think “this person has an SJW brain tumor.” I’m beginning to think Steven Greydanus falls into the latter category.
According to Greydanus, Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 has a theme of “used and abused women” and a “queasy backbeat of misogyny going beyond sexist elements in Vol. 1.” What’s so bad about it? Mantis and Peter’s mother. Gamora and Nebula. The idea that the movies are sexist because Thanos abused his daughters is laughable given that they are women who do things like pick up pieces of spaceships to shoot each other with. Mantis is a more feminine character helps use her empathic powers to fight the bad guy. And Peter’s mother? Well, Greydanus seems to think that discovering the reason behind why Peter’s father abandoned her actually makes a difference, as if this negates Peter saying that his mother was “the most wonderful woman in the world.” Greydanus asks “Do we want her to become just another female victim of a powerful, abusive man? It’s becoming a hallmark of this franchise.”
Forgetting for the moment that a woman who doesn’t know that she’s been used and abused can’t be very abused, consider that maybe the hallmark of the franchise is actually broken people. Not women. People. And those broken people learning to form relationships with each other and repair themselves.
The Guardians are a very messed up bunch of people. Why’s Gamora the more important? Rocket was a lab experiment. Drax had his family killed. Peter watched his mother die then was abducted by aliens who threatened to eat him and raised him as a space pirate. I’m sure that didn’t cause any psychological damage at all.
Back to Greydanus:
We’re meant to root for Peter and Gamora as a couple, but the writers haven’t bothered to define her character or his arc in such a way that he has anything to offer her. Their relationship coasts on the first film, in which Peter saved Gamora’s life in prison shortly after she tried to rob him and later almost died saving her from death in space.
All right, so Peter doesn’t have anything to offer Gamora but what does Gamora have to offer Peter? Relationships are a two way street and focusing on how the male is deficient without giving any consideration on the female’s part in this is wrong.
This reminds me of something Jeffro Johnson had on G+ last week about Iron Man 3:
Pepper Potts in Iron Man 3 — Here’s the problem with this character. You have to have the security guard guy TELL Stark that she’s the best thing that every happened to him. But there is never a scene where she is SHOWN to be a first class girl. No, Stark gave her the wrong Christmas gift. She’s irritated that he spends time on his hobbies. She’s irritated that saving the world has taken a psychological toll.
Now writers put in this stuff in order to show drama, sure. Think Hellboy 2 and Ghostbusters 2– the two relationships in those come back in some kind of “you’re in the doghouse” naggy whiny annoying type thing. They want to have some kind of arc there. The problem is… overdo the “drama” and both leading man and leading girl cease to be likable or worse… you don’t even care if the relationship gets sorted out.
But there is another way. It’s just not allowed. What if Pepper Potts was like… my man is a genius. My man has a heart of gold. My man is brilliant. My man is successful. My man is probably second only to, say, Norse Gods. My goodness… he’s hurting ever since New York. I can see it. I love this man. What can I do to HELP him. I would stand by this guy through thick and thin. When we moved in together as just a modest step up from seeing each other at the office, that really meant something. I never signed up for “better or for worse.” But this is worse right now and I need to step up my game because this guy is awesome and he needs me and I love him and oh gosh, I can’t believe I I live with Tony Freaking Big Time Millionaire Inventor Stark.
(There’s more to it and he’s hit upon one of the reasons why I never had any desire to watch Iron Man 3 again.)
Pepper Potts goes from long suffering secretary to bitch pretty much instantly. Tony might be a jerk but at least he’s a genius inventor who saved the world a couple times. Pepper? She doesn’t bring anything worthwhile to the relationship so good riddance.
The way the MCU works we ought to be able to have good relationships. Romances in movies are often rushed and underdeveloped. When the movie’s about beating up today’s variation on the glowing beam shooting into the sky to kill everybody, that love stuff isn’t the focus. With multiple movies dealing with the same characters, however, it ought to present the chance of good character development and meaningful relationships. Except that this is Hollywood and Hollywood wouldn’t know a good relationship if it bit them.
Instead what we get is something that makes the typical Status-Quo-is-god, completely episodic TV show’s relationships look good. With those, even if the relationship was meaningless in the context of the show as a whole, within the individual episode sometimes it’s quite good. I cannot think of a single love interest in the MCU that I can really remember anything good about. Not a single one that stands out. I can remember more about throw away, one episode love interests from Miami Vice than I can about the girlfriends of movie Marvel.
So in a way, it’s actually a good thing that there isn’t much to Peter and Gamora. Greydanus is utterly stupid to think that relationship is a “big thing.” Maybe the relationship coasts because she’s friendzoned him hard. Maybe it coasts because it’s not important to the plot. Because familial relationships are what’s important. The Guardians are a team; they are a family. The focus is on father-son relationships, sister relationships, friend relationships. Rocket being a jerk and trying to drive people away is more important than Gamora and Peter’s unspoken thing. Maybe the movie doesn’t do the best job of it but then maybe the movie is too busy being silly.
It’s a very silly movie. It is not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, but I rather enjoyed it. I could have hated it, however, and still thought Greydanus is smoking some kind of liberal crack to be seeing sexism and misogyny everywhere.
Meanwhile, I’m getting tired of the MCU for other reasons. Like giant beams of light that shoot into the sky and are supposed to kill everybody. Like pointless and repetitive dead end relationships with “strong” selfish women. There’s only so many time the world can be on the verge of being annihilated before I stop caring. There’s only so many times we can go through all that relationship drama before it’s totally obvious that they’re just going to blow every single time.
Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 was kind of refreshing because it was so silly. Sure they were trying to destroy the universe again but at least the father-son issues put a different slant on it. And it was in space. Space is good. Now if only we could enjoy these things without SJWs and their brainwashed drones trying ruin it both within and without.