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Thor’s Tessa Thompson is Still Beating the Drum for an All-Female Marvel Superhero Movie


Tessa Thompson in Thor: Ragnarok

Our indefatigable Valkyrie, Tessa Thompson, has been a guiding force behind nudging Marvel towards a much-needed all-female superhero team movie. So where are we at with that?

It seemed to take Tessa Thompson marching over to Kevin Feige with most of the women of the Marvel Cinematic Universe at her back to bring this idea to Marvel Studios’ immediate attention. One would think it would be obvious, and rushed into development long ago: the MCU already has some of the most bankable women in the world on its payroll, this is a new era where Wonder Woman was a huge critical and box-office success, demonstrating the viability of a female hero-led movie; there’s precedent from comics canon to mine, from the more recent A-Force to the 1970’s Lady Liberators.

Thompson has become the defacto torchbearer for the cause, and she was asked about the movie’s chances at the premiere of Annihilation. Here’s what she said:

I’m not Marvel so I can’t make it happen, but I can tell you that Marvel is hugely collaborative, I think our even our Thor movie was basically the product of conversations they’d had with Chris and with Mark about what they wanted to do next. I think Kevin Feige is really excited by the idea, and if you look at what’s happened already in Phase 4 with me and Valkyrie and our story, and then in Black Panther the women rule supreme.

There’s an interest – they’re doing Captain Marvel, they’re doing a Black Widow – there’s an interest in having women at the forefront of this phase. I feel it’s hopeful, who knows.

A lot of headlines covering Thompson’s remarks today have said things like “Tessa Thompson on When Marvel’s Female Superhero Movie Is Happening.” This feels disingenuous, and it’s giving Marvel much too much credit. It’s great to hear from Thompson that Marvel can be collaborative and receptive to its stars’ feedback. Chris Hemsworth was very open during the Thor: Ragnarok press blitz that he’d had quite enough of the character as it had been portrayed up until Ragnarok, and that the opportunity to make a Thor movie as imagined by Taika Waititi’s refreshingly zany sensibility and aesthetic was a huge part of the draw for him.

But it’s a different collaborative thing for the studio to listen to the requests of its long-established actors as to new directions to take their characters. That feels like basic courtesy of keeping your extremely high-paid employees happy at work. It doesn’t suggest that Marvel is about to greenlight a female-led superhero movie because it was suggested by some of its stars and received some press buzz. It’s a fantastic idea, and I want a lady Avengers-type move more than I want air, but I’m too wary to trust Marvel to do anything about it soon.

As Thompson mentions, Marvel’s women seem to be on the up and up in the latest Phase. Valkyrie was a breath of fresh air—a snarky, hard-drinking, ass-kicking female character who was most decidedly not a love interest. By every account, Black Panther’s Dora Milaje (and the other women in T’Challa’s life) are setting a new standard for Marvel-based lady badassery onscreen. And as The Washington Post points out, the last four Marvel movies have featured women of color in lead roles.

This is an incredible improvement from the studio in terms of representation, but elevating the role of women in Marvel’s films is not the same as giving them films and franchises of their own. And we’re still more than a year from Captain Marvel, which will be Marvel’s first female superhero-led movie in the more than 20 made over the last 10 years. That ratio is not good.

Do I think it’s time for a Lady Liberators or A-Force movie that will make its characters as well-established as the Avengers? Hell yes. It’s the perfect time. Do I think Marvel Studios is making it a priority? I haven’t seen any indication that they are. It’s up to us as fans to support the actors like Thompson in making a push for this happen, and to make a lot of noise about it.

(via, images: Marvel)

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Kaila is a lifelong New Yorker. She's written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.