Hey, Some Good Black Widow and Star Wars Merchandising News! (For Once.) (Kinda.)
“Business offers product to meet staggering demand” shouldn’t be a newsworthy story, but, since time and time again the opposite has been true in terms of merchandise for female characters, I feel like celebrating whenever Hasbro and other companies do the bare minimum to improve representation.
Considering Rey’s recent exclusion from Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys, I’m particularly stoked that Hasbro isn’t sidelining female characters in its Star Wars Rebels merch, and will be selling a Princess Leia figurine in honor of her appearance on the series. The 3.75-inch Leia figurine is based off Ralph McQuarrie concept art, and will be at next month’s Star Wars toy fair, although fans won’t be able to actually purchase her until the fall.
Given Hasbro’s poor track record of representation with Star Wars Rebels, it’s great to see Rebels Leia getting some merch of her own.
Hasbro has also announced some of its Captain America: Civil War figures, including the first Black Widow Titan scale figure.
It’s awesome that Hasbro is offering a set that includes Widow alongside a male avenger. Too often, female characters are left out of products that also include male heroes, for fear that boys will be dissuaded from buying a ‘girl’s toy.’ That kind of thinking is increasingly ridiculous considering the recent mainstream push towards gender neutral toy aisles, and it does a disservice to fans of all genders. I’d love to see Hasbro go even further with including Black Widow in products that also feature male avengers, in addition to offering more solo Widow merchandise than they have in the past.
Black Widow’s inclusion is particularly interesting in light of this recent Sweatpants and Coffee article on #WheresRey, in which an anonymous industry insider explained that she’s considered “unusable” in the toy market. The insider went on to say, “She has a tight black outfit. Our main customer is concerned with ‘family values’.”
Gawd, that’s infuriating. I know this is a post about positive merchandising developments, but that remark is a maddening encapsulation of all the ways women just can’t win.
I love Black Widow, and I know that as far as potential female superhero costumes go, her MCU unitard is positively prudish. Still, I think it was designed with the male gaze in mind to a certain extent, which is why it’s frustrating to see her essentially slut-shamed as an excuse for not creating more merchandise. It’s very telling that the thought process isn’t “maybe we could give Black Widow a slightly more casual outfit” but “the jumpsuit stays, merch for female fans goes. Also, women’s bodies are scary and a threat to family values.”
That’s just another reason why seeing Black Widow in sets with Iron Man (and hopefully other Avengers as well. I’ve got my eye on you, Hasbro) is so important–to a small extent, it actually destigmatizes the female body. Widow has boobs, and, as with many boobs-having-humans in real life, even modest outfits probably wouldn’t hide those entirely. And that’s okay! You can still kick butt with boobs, and I honestly expect young Avengers fans of all genders to recognize that.
What do you think, gang? Excited for Leia and these new Widow figurines?
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