Now that it’s officially on, The Avengers sequel will have some Hulk-sized footprints to follow, and Marvel Studios will have to figure out which — if any — of the superheroes from its larger universe should feature in the follow-up.
It’s too soon to say definitively, but if writer-director Joss Whedon remains at the helm, he would like to see Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow get a sister on the squad.
In EW’s exclusive roundtable interview with Whedon and his hero cast, we discussed why there are so few female action heroes in the movies, and why they hope that will change in the next movie.
In the midst of a wide-ranging discussion (see the videos here), we asked: “Which character would you add to an Avengers sequel?”
Whedon joked, “I think we need to get some more men on the team,” while Thor’s Chris Hemsworth looked around Johansson at Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, and Samuel L. Jackson and agreed, “Yes, there are too few of us.”
It was a good point. There are a lot of female superheroes in comics, but very few turn up on film. Cobie Smulders’ S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill was a solid addition to The Avengers, but there are many more.
If The Avengers did decide to add a new female from the Marvel universe, they’d have a few ready-made choices. While Scott Pilgrim vs. the World filmmaker Edgar Wright has been working on a script for a movie about Ant-Man, and many fans are hoping that character would join any Avengers sequel, quite a few women have also been a part of the group throughout the comic book series’ history.
Wasp, pictured here, was one of the founding members when The Avengers began publication in 1963. Scarlet Witch joined a few years after that, and Moondragon, Hellcat, and Mantis came on in the mid-’70s, just after Black Widow.
The list goes on, and while none may be as well-known as Iron Man or Hulk, Marvel Studios has smartly introduced lesser-known heroes as supporting players in films carried by their more famous standard-bearers. Black Widow appeared first in Iron Man 2 and Hawkeye had a crucial cameo in Thor. Marvel would have the upcoming Iron Man 3, Thor 2, and Captain America 2 to make some introductions to moviegoers before The Avengers sequel, which doesn’t yet have a production or release date.
In addition to creating the TV shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Dollhouse — all of which featured tough, funny, smart, and sexy female characters — Whedon worked for years in the DC Comics universe trying to craft a script for a Wonder Woman film that never came to be.
“Studios will tell you: A woman cannot headline an action movie,” he told EW during the roundtable interview. “After The Hunger Games they might stop telling you that a little bit. Whatever you think of the movie, it’s done a great service. And after The Avengers, I think it’s changing.”
Johansson notes, “A lot of the female superhero movies just suck really badly.”
Whedon nods. “The suck factor is not small.”
We’ll just quote the full conversation from here:
Johansson: They are really not well made, and already you’re fighting against the tide. There are a couple [female-driven action movies] that have worked-ish, don’t you think?
Hemsworth: Angelina Jolie tends to do it pretty well, as the dominant female.
Jackson: [Grinning] They got to get The Pro to the screen!
Whedon: [Groaning] See, that is the problem. Sam is the problem!
Jackson: I love that book!
Whedon: [Reluctantly] The Pro is hilarious.
Jackson: The Pro’s hilarious. [To the group] You ever see or hear of it?
Johansson: No, what’s The Pro?
Jackson: It’s [a comic book] about a hooker who gets super powers!
Johansson: [Pauses] That is exactly the problem right there.
Whedon: That’s why I wasn’t going to bring up The Pro!
Jackson: It’s a totally dope book, though.
Johansson: I’d have to wear pasties to greenlight any of these movies.
EW: So you think the problem is just too much focus on the sexuality of female superheroes?
Johansson: Yeah, I think they’re always fighting in a bra, so while it might be exciting for a still photo, it’s ridiculous. One of the most exciting thing about [The Avengers,] is that in my opening scene the first thing you see is my character getting punched in the face. Everybody’s like, ‘Damn, it’s nice to see a girl get the sh-t kicked out of her–
Jackson: [Interupting] They also want to know where you get that no-bruise make-up.
Whedon: Wait, you need to let her finish this thought, or this is going to transcribe really badly.
Johansson: [Throws arms up] And then Sam Jackson talks more about the g-string!
Jackson: No! F–k no! I’m in one of the best woman-action-movies ever f–king made — The Long Kiss Goodnight.
Downey: Damn right.
Jackson: Geena Davis f–king kicks ass in that. She is totally dope in that one.
Johansson: There are good ones. And Geena Davis is the perfect woman to be that.
Jackson: They just had no idea how to market that f–king movie — at that time. [The 1996 movie — written by Iron Man 3 filmmaker Shane Black — underperformed at the box office, but has since become a cult favorite.]
Johansson: But I do think superhero — superheroine movies are normally really corny and bad. They’re always like, fighting in four inch heels with their [thrusting out her chest] like a two-gun salute.
Hemsworth: [Teasing] There are a few chicks in X-Men.
Johansson: [Smiles] We’ll get more.
Jackson: As soon as we get that movie with you kicking Katniss’ ass, it’s done!
Sounds like Sam may be working on his own screenplay.
‘Avengers’: Watch video of EW’s exclusive interview with the trash-talking heroes