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Aquaman Marketing Idea of How to Appeal to Women Seems Really Dated

Are we still saying women don't like superhero films?

Aquaman was always going to be a bit of a challenge to market. The titular hero has always been the butt of more than a few fish jokes, and the DCEU hasn’t done particularly well so far, with the exception of Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman. Ultimately, the majority of the marketing was incredibly successful in hyping up the film’s rich visuals, strong leading performance from Jason Momoa, and the humor and quirky tone of the film itself, with mass box office success as a result.

However, when it came to the actual marketing strategy, apparently, Warner Bros. viewed marketing to women as a separate entity rather than part of the “mass” market.

Deadline describes their lady-centric marketing strategy by saying, “When it came to Warners attracting women to Aquaman, it was all about the hunk factor in leading man Jason Momoa, not to mention selling the maternal and romance storylines of Nicole Kidman’s Atlanna character.” The article mentions how women rated Aquaman higher in test screenings, so the marketing focused more on women, using stars Momoa, Kidman, and Amber Heard.

One such strategy was to focus on a viral meme created by moms online, about how they wanted to take their kids to see Aquaman as an excuse to see Momoa in his heroic glory. The studio created a hashtag #MomsForMomoa, and even had an advance screening for mommy bloggers at a Los Angeles location, featuring swag and an appearance by Momoa. While the rest of the film’s marketing strategy seems fairly regular, the fact they felt that they needed to focus on women as a separate market, rather than just as fans of a comic book movie, feels dated.

Eight years ago, bad humor pieces and semi-serious “guides” were written to help poor, put-upon girlfriends understand The Avengers and not bother their boyfriends with questions during the film. I remember my high school history teacher asking me which male Avenger I was going to see the film for; even as recently as June, I’ve had guys tell me that Thor was only made to appeal to women because he’s “hot.” Apparently, it’s impossible to fathom a woman being interested in a superhero film if there isn’t a man either dragging them to it or getting shirtless on the big screen.

Also, can’t moms feel like they want to go see a movie without couching it in them needing a hot man as an excuse? Moms are allowed to like superhero films, too. Everyone is allowed to like superhero films; we shouldn’t need excuses to go see a genre/comic book film we like.

I’m not trying to shame people who want to see the film solely because they’re fans of Momoa or for any other reason, but marketing it towards women specifically by basing things around both Momoa’s attractiveness and a maternal plot with Kidman’s Atlanna seems incredibly dated—like “women will see the new Star Trek movie because there’s a birth scene in it” dated. (Yes, that’s a true story; scroll down to the first comment in this IndieWire article.)

Many women are drawn to comic book films because we, well … like them—not because someone gives birth or is a mother, and not always because we’re feeling the male hero’s rugged good looks.

Marketing directors, do a little better. Women are not some mystical group that needs to be lured in via clever marketing techniques revolving around hot men. Just tell us the story is good, and it won’t be a repulsively sexist mess, and we should be good. Let’s aim for that, or for the girl power vibes of Captain Marvel, for the next big marketing scheme.

(via Deadline, image: DC/Warner Bros)

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Kate (they/them) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions they have. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, they are now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for their favorite rare pairs.