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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Ant-Man

Where Are the Women? Ant-Man

Runs right up to the notion that a woman could plausibly play the central heroic role but then backs off to engage in male-centered business as usual.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: -10

-10
Is there a woman who is mostly pretty awesome and perfect who is present to support a man improving himself? [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: -5

-5
Is there a woman who is kidnapped (either onscreen or off) whose kidnap motivates a male protagonist? [why this matters]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -23

-5
Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional and/or sexual relationship with a man or men? [why this matters]


-5
Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional or biological relationship with a child or children? [why this matters]


-3
Is a dead mother mentioned? [why this matters]


-10
Does a man police or attempt to police a woman’s sexual agency? [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: -5

Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)

Why not a female superhero? The movie states directly that it would make much more sense for a particular female character to wear the Ant-Man suit and engage in the heroics required… and then invents Reasons why she can’t, and why she must train a man to do the job she is already capable of doing instead.

TOTAL SCORE: -43

IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: This movie runs right up to the notion that a woman could just as plausibly play the central heroic role but then backs off from it to engage in male-centered business as usual, even when the movie desperately needs something to distinguish it from many similar films. And boo for reducing the amazing Judy Greer, for the second time this summer, to a weeping frantic mom stereotype.


Click here for the ongoing ranking of 2015’s films for female representation.

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Ant-Man! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.) Read my review of Ant-Man.

See the full rating criteria. (Criteria that do not apply to this film have been deleted in this rating for maximum readability.)


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  • Thera Pitts

    I’m interested in what the reasons they invented are. I can’t imagine they’re very good if they foreshadow her becoming a hero in her own right in upcoming movies.

  • You’re right: they’re not very good, nor very plausible. (SPOILER: They have to do with how her father lost his wife/her mother in an accident with the suit, so he can’t possibly bear to lose his daughter too.) They have nothing to do with anything except: Women can’t be the heroes of their own stories.

  • RogerBW

    Ah, so it’s not even a flaw in her, it’s because a man tells her she can’t do it.

  • Thera Pitts

    Yeah, I was hoping it would be a legitimate reason, like a medical thing. That sucks.

  • Constable

    It’s the cliche “I’m trying to protect you” thing. I feel like the film could have redeemed it’self if it had only let her don a second suit to rescue her student.

  • That still wouldn’t really be legitimate. She’s not a real person: she’s a fictional character crafted for this particularly story. Any excuse is bullshit.

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