Iron Man: Pepper Potts

I just saw the new Iron Man movie last night, and while it is overall one of the best superhero movies ever made, there is one element that stands out as unusual: Pepper Potts. (Spoilers follow.)

Virginia “Pepper” Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is Tony Stark’s personal assistant, whose responsibilities range from handling Stark’s everyday needs to shipping off the women Tony has one-night stands with so that he doesn’t have to deal with them. She is clearly very fond of Tony despite his many, many character flaws.

On Tony’s part, he clearly trusts Pepper more than anyone else, to the point of having her replace his life-sustaining generator (in a comically icky scene) when his robotic assistant proves unequal to the task. While she is concerned about Tony’s personality changes following his captivity, she continues to act as his assistant even after discovering his Iron Man project. Interestingly, while Tony does not tell her about the project, he doesn’t try to hide it from her, as she retains security access to his workshop.

There are two particular areas where Pepper really shines. The first is the expected romantic angle. There are certainly hints of attraction between her and Tony, culminating in Tony pushing her to dance with him at a benefit. While this clearly makes her uncomfortable (and she tells Tony as much), she also nearly kisses him shortly afterwords before thinking better of it. At the end of the film, Tony decides that a superhero like himself should have a worrying girlfriend, and not-very-subtly reminds her of the night of the dance. Pepper reminds him that he also unthinkingly left her behind afterwords, and that she has no intention of changing their boss-assistant relationship.

This is really unheard of in a superhero movie. Pepper turns Tony down, not because he is a superhero, but because she recognizes that because of his character flaws a relationship would be a really, really bad idea. Not to mention the whole “dating your boss” angle.

Pepper also takes an unusually active role in the action. The final act of the film is set up when Tony asks Pepper to hack into his office computer to find out what his treacherous underling Obadiah Stane has been up to, and Pepper refuses, declaring that she quits. She changes her mind when Tony persuades her that this is about doing the right thing and helping the people that they had previously put in harm’s way. Pepper successfully hacks into the office computer, discovering even more about Stane’s dirty dealings than Tony had suspected, but is interrupted by Stane. At this point, my expectation is that Stane will take her hostage and Tony will have to rescue her, as we have seen in so many other movies.

Not so. Pepper successfully bluffs her way out with the data, and by the time Stane realizes what she was doing she has already made it to the lobby where she runs into a government agent who has been trying to get an interview with Stark regarding his captivity. And what does she do? She goes with the agent and tells him everything, as well as calling Tony and filling him in, successfully putting Stane on the defensive instead of acting like the standard imperiled woman.

Because of Pepper’s actions, Stane is forced to don his prototype armor to escape arrest and go after Tony personally. When Tony’s proves unable to defeat Stane’s superior armor, he has Pepper overload the Stark lab’s generator to take Stane out. The usual role of the female supporting character in the climax is reversed – here, Tony distracts Stane until Pepper can finish him off with the desperate plan. And she does all of this without screaming, even when faced down by a lunatic in a ten-fuit war machine.

I never expected to see a superhero movie in which the female lead evades getting captured by her own wits, takes out the bad guy, and turns down the hero because of his personality. Amazing.

Comments

  1. SunlessNick says

    Entirely on the strength of this, I’m now going to see the film. Might be later on DVD, depending on my money flow, but I’m going to see it.

  2. says

    Still, she got only one good line to say – and that was at the expense of Tony’s one-night-stand.

    Btw, what did you think of Lois Lane in Superman Returns?

  3. Patrick says

    Like I said, overall it is one of the best superhero movies that I have ever seen – which is saying something, since I don’t particularly like Iron Man as a character. (the other best superhero films are, in no particular order: Hellboy, X-Men 2, Batman Begins, and the Donner Superman.) It is very character-driven and well-plotted, but the action is also fantastic. It’s definitely worth seeing on the big screen.

  4. says

    New Scientist gave it a reasonable review in Iron Man: The science behind the fiction because “unusually for a Hollywood blockbuster, features fantastic technology that is grounded in real-world science”, then gives examples of components (e.g. exoskeletons that give extra strength).

    (As compared to “Superman”, where NS contemplated the need for strategically placed kryptonite to stop “sperm of steel” ejected by involuntary muscle contractions inflicting a severe injury as they passed through Lois Lane and then into orbit)

  5. says

    While I agree entirely with your review, Pepper was surprisingly rare for a superhero female lead.

    I did however take her relationship to Tony slightly differently than you. I see them as having something of a Mulder-Scully like relationship. And in the sequels I know will be coming, I fully expect them to be at least somewhat romantically involved, simply not in a conventional way.

  6. Patrick says

    Still, she got only one good line to say – and that was at the expense of Tony’s one-night-stand.

    Yeah, Tony did get all the best lines, apparently because a) it is his movie, abd b) director Jon Favreau encouraged ad-libbing during filming, which is one of Downey’s strengths.

    Btw, what did you think of Lois Lane in Superman Returns?

    I had to keep reminding myself that this is supposed to be Lois Lane. It was just… ugh, definitely the weak point of the movie. The Lois I love would have given Superman a serious chewing-out, not just given him big-hurt-eyes. She has no concern for her own safety, but would never take a child (much less her own) into a dangerous situation as when she boards the mysterious yacht. I blame Singer, the writers and Bosworth about equally. To me, Dana Delany’s Lois from the Bruce Timm-produced cartoons will always be the definitive screen Lois Lane.

  7. Patrick says

    (As compared to “Superman”, where NS contemplated the need for strategically placed kryptonite to stop “sperm of steel” ejected by involuntary muscle contractions inflicting a severe injury as they passed through Lois Lane and then into orbit)

    Did they at least give credit to Larry Niven?

    Honestly, anyone trying to apply real-world physics to superheroes needs a new set of disbelief suspenders. Superhero physics just do not work like real physics.

  8. Jenny H. says

    From what I know of Pepper in the original Iron Man comics (which may not be entirely accurate) she was a “plain” secretary who harbored a one-sided crush on Tony, who barely even noticed her until she hooked up with his driver, Happy Hogan*. Then a love triangle ensued (and Tony lost). I haven’t read the issues where this happens, but considering this was Stan Lee writing in the sixties, and considering how he wrote female characters… well, I think that it’s safe to say that the movie version of Pepper** is certainly a big improvement. ;)

    I really don’t need to look hard for reasons to love this movie, but I think Pepper is certainly a good one. It’s a shame that she’s so atypical for women in superhero movies *looks pointedly at the X-men and Spider-man franchises*.

    I remember reading a quote from the director where he said that he wanted Pepper and Tony’s relationship to be like a 1940s romantic comedy. I think that does show in the way the characters interact.

    *Who is actually in the movie, played by the director, Jon Favreau, in an extended cameo of sorts. It’ll be interesting to see if they decide to expand his character in the sequels

    **However, the comics character recently played a key role as part of a superhero team in the great but sadly canceled, The Order.

  9. says

    Still, she got only one good line to say – and that was at the expense of Tony’s one-night-stand.

    Just curious, which line are you referring to? The line that made everyone in the theater laugh when I saw it was the reference to taking out Tony’s trash, and I thought that was rather misogynistic.

    Overall, her dialogue was lacking. Some of her lines were just weird and/or poorly delivered. Still, I agree with the content of this post: Pepper was great and I was really pleased with how they handled her character. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her become romantically involved with Tony in the sequels though.

  10. Ramblin Rabbit says

    In general I agree… but her Shoes!!! She’s running around on 4 inch heels and standing on a grate in the end. Can’t she be an attractive secretary without being hobbled by her footwear?

  11. Patrick says

    From what I know of Pepper in the original Iron Man comics (which may not be entirely accurate) she was a “plain” secretary who harbored a one-sided crush on Tony, who barely even noticed her until she hooked up with his driver, Happy Hogan*. Then a love triangle ensued (and Tony lost). I haven’t read the issues where this happens, but considering this was Stan Lee writing in the sixties, and considering how he wrote female characters… well, I think that it’s safe to say that the movie version of Pepper** is certainly a big improvement.

    Yes, comics Pepper in the 60s was very much in line with Stan Lee’s soap opera-style romances.

    I really don’t need to look hard for reasons to love this movie, but I think Pepper is certainly a good one. It’s a shame that she’s so atypical for women in superhero movies *looks pointedly at the X-men and Spider-man franchises*.

    Neithor of the X-Men films are that bad on this front (I tell myself that there is no third movie), but the Spider-Man films… sheesh. Would it have that hard to once, just once, have a Spider-Man film that doesn’t climax with a kidnapped Mary Jane screaming her head off?

  12. says

    Ramblin Rabbit – she very clearly was not hobbled by her footwear. Despite standing on the grate (and the mechanics of how she was doing that sadly distracted me from the robot-on-robot action), she did stand on the grate with no problems and successfully ran away from a killer robot wearing them.

    While I would have liked to see her show the sense and take tham off as soon as she needed them, they certainly didn’t hinder her in anyway. Like all the best comic heroines.

  13. Brett says

    I agree Gwyneth’s Pepper was above and beyond what anyone should rightfully expect from non-super-powered female in a super hero movie. At the risk of giving away yet another spoiler, don’t forget it was her idea to keep the backup mini arc reactor when Tony told her to destroy it. So in actuality, she saved Tony like 3 separate times during the movie and made the entire final fight possible in addition to finishing off Iron Monger. Not bad for a personal assistant.

    One other minor detail though: She moved in to kiss tony and HE was the one who backed off and then ditched her on the balcony. I thought ti was a nice bit of role reversal, considering its usually the male who is portrayed as “ooh she danced with me, that must mean she wants to make out immediately afterward”.

  14. dr.funke says

    I agree that Pepper wasn’t your typical female in a superhero movie, but I still found myself wanting more from her character. Maybe it was Paltrow’s delivery, but sometimes Potts came off as uncharacteristically whiny.
    Initially Potts seemed competent, efficient and able to manage Starks’ irresponsible/flirtatious behavior. Then there were times when she adopted a whiny, incredulous tone with Starks that seemed totally out of character and out of place. Perhaps her character was underdeveloped in order to establish the origin story. I thought the movie pretty close to awesome and appreciated the fact that Pepper didn’t need to be rescued.

  15. Myro says

    This movie was utterly FANTASTIC. One thing that I noticed which really had the audience cheering their heads off in the theatre I went to was when Tony/Iron Man goes back to where he was taken captive and brings the pain to the terrorists (ahhh how I loved amongst other things, the exploding tank scene as he calmy walked away)… now that was just BADASS!

    Marvel is hitting them outta the ballpark! And… OMG, I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THE INCREDIBLE HULK! From the preview I saw and other online sources it seems that Marvel learned their lesson from the Ang Lee version. Not that Mr. Lee’s version wasn’t good, it simply in my opinion strayed to far from what the Hulk is supposed to be and does… ARRRRRRG HULK SMASH!!!! Puny human (LOL). Excellent choice in getting Edward Norton for the role of Bruce Banner, he’s perfect for the part.

  16. Scarlett says

    I blame Singer, the writers and Bosworth about equally

    I haven’t seen the new Superman movie, and I haven’t read the X-men comics (or any comics, for that matter) but I much preferred Singer’s X-men movies over the third one. Actually, I didn’t even like the stupid Jean Grey-Wolverine thing in X2 but I think Singer had a much better grasp of strong women than most comic book adaptation PTP do. (I love the bit in X2 when Mystique looks at Alan Rickman’s character when he points out that she can fit in if she wants, and she says ‘we shouldn’t have to’. That was such a principled thing to say, and I didn’t get the feel gender had anything to do with it.)

    But then, I love the X-Men series because historically, it’s about McCarthyism I may have disregarded feminism for history :p

  17. SunlessNick says

    I love the bit in X2 when Mystique looks at Alan Rickman’s character when he points out that she can fit in if she wants, and she says ‘we shouldn’t have to’. Scarlett

    Alan Cumming, please. But it is a good line.

    I quite liked the way the Jean Grey/Wolverine thing ended in X2.

  18. says

    Hmmm. I had mixed feelings on this one. On the one hand, I LOVED that she didn’t get with Tony at the end, and I thought it was cute she had Tony’s mini-reactor preserved (:D break glass in case of emergency, amirite?) but at the same time, I wonder why the writers were able to salvage Potts and Rhodes, but couldn’t complicate the motivations of the ethnic baddies. You’d think that if they could update the female lead, gives Rhodes/Warpath a makeover, and include neato robot assistants that they’d be able to make the ORIGIN STORY itself feel less like a bad transcript of a crappy Vietnam/ Viet Cong war story.

  19. Patrick says

    What I love about the X-Men comics is how deliberately flexible the mutant metaphor is. Mutan = Other, and you can write stories where mutants serve as pretty much any Other than you choose. I definitely think that has contributed to their longevity, as it has kept X-Men from being tied down to any single issue.

  20. Scarlett says

    Sorry, SunlessNick.

    I quite liked the way the Jean Grey/Wolverine thing ended in X2.

    I wasn’t fussed on the stupid flirting and kissing they did, but I coudl have dealt with that. I felt they totally trashed her in x3 and didn’t give OTHER strong female characters like Mystique and Storm much to do.

    Patrick, I think you have a point about X-Men’s longevity being partly credited to the fact you can write about ‘Other’ in so many different contexts. I thought Magneto and Mystique were very fleshed-out ‘bad guys’ because you could sympathise with the resentment that had made them ‘bad’ guys. (Another Mystique quote I love is in the first movie where she tells that PR guy in the chopper ‘it was people like you that meant I couldn’t go to school’.)I could totally get how people who had been rdiculed and persecuted their whole lives would one day decide ‘screw this, talking hasn’t gotten us anyway, let’s blow stuff up’.

    Um, yeah, that was my fangirl way of agreeing with you that you can reapply the context to situations throughout history :p

  21. says

    I agree big time, on the not-being-rescued and on all her active moments. I felt the same way when she was in the office and Stane surprised her – my heart sank as I expected her to be captured, screaming, hostage, and in need of rescue. So I was super glad when that didn’t happen!

    The high heels bugged me. From what I read though, it is Gwyneth Paltrow’s own obsession. See:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfgate/detail?blogid=7&entry_id=19095

    I sure do wish for MORE from women in superhero movies. Like, that they also be superheroes! And invent things, and blow stuff up, and fly around, and actually kick some butt.

  22. says

    Isn’t it a little sad that our expectations are so low? So we are all happy just because she wasn’t screaming and helpless and spreading her legs instantly for the hero?

    There was no reason not to rewrite her as being a competent hacker, or know some martial arts, or be also an inventor, or develop into a superhero along with Tony Stark.

    Just thought I’d point that out. We should expect way more awesomeness!

  23. Patrick says

    Yeah, for all the new focus on superheroes, Hollywood seems even more leary of female superheroes in leading roles than the comic book companies.

  24. Ide Cyan says

    Liz, I think it is sad that expectations are so low that Pepper Potts stands out to some people as a refreshing change. *Not* because she should be extraordinary, but because she’s an ordinary person (as far as comic book characters go), and the narrative doesn’t diminish her for it, or for sideline her based on her gender.

    There ought to be outstanding, superheroic women as characters, in the superhero movie genre, obviously; but there also need to be decent roles as ordinary persons for women in those movie, and it wouldn’t be quite so sad if they weren’t so rare that a single character in a movie that doesn’t even pass the Dykes to Watch Out For test seems unusual.

  25. says

    Absolutely it’s sad. I liked the F-Word’s coverage where they pointed out Patrick’s mostly positive take and another blogger’s more scathing one and said:

    What this speaks to, for me, is not that either analysis is completely right or completely wrong, but that feminists may need to develop selective hearing or bypass the multiplex completely.

    I couldn’t agree more. I myself have opted to skip movies altogether and stick to TV, where… I dunno, at least the sexism and misogyny can be spread out over more hours of viewing that’s filled with some fun things.

    If you want to ENJOY movies, you kind of need the selective hearing. (And hey, it’s not as if boycotting them will send a message – Hollywood has proven over and over again that no matter what message our dollars send, they will interpret it to be the message that fits their prejudices.)

  26. Patrick says

    The F-word coverage is very interesting because it does address how much a viewer brings to a film. Certainly, I went into the film with a significant amount of knowledge (I’m a comics fan, though not of Iron Man specifically), and with very, very low expectations for the presentation of gender, so I was surprised and pleased, and concentrated on the negative.

    On the other hand, Lisa clearly focused on the negative aspects of the gender portrayals, but somewhat innacurately: she states that Pepper “never complains, except very passive-aggressively and with the shyest smile.” While that does describe Pepper’s behavior during the party scene, did Lisa somehow not watch the part where Pepper quits and Stark has to persuade her to stay and do what he asks because it is the right thing to do?

    I’ve actually seen a lot of feminist reviews describing Pepper as “ever-loyal” in this way, and it boggles my mind, because this description directly contradicst the movie itself.

    One non-gender-related peeve I’ve had when reading other’s responses to the film: The Ten Rings are not Arab terrorists, people. They are a warband based out of Afghanistan, who explicitly seek power and military dominance. Never at any point in the film are we given any indication that the Ten Rings follow any Islamist agenda, nor that they have any political goals beyond the leader’s expressed desire to “rule all of Asia.” Iron Man has no more to do with Hollywood portrayals of Arab terrorists than The Last Samurai has to do with Hollywood portryals of Chinese anti-Western rebels.

  27. says

    I thought the Ten Rings people were much more pan-asian yellow-peril-era racist with their vague talk of Genghis Khan and Ruling All of Asia than they were anti-muslim. Something racist and messed up going on there for sure though.

  28. Patrick says

    Oh, there was certainly some Orientalizing going on there. We’re still looking at a group of bad guys that are visually “othered” and compare themselves to Genghis Khan, one of the primary influences behind the Yellow Peril stereotype. I’m not trying to claim that Iron Man is not racially problematic. What drives me crazy is that writer after writer keeps talking about “negative portrayals of Arabs” in a movie that has no Arabs in it.

  29. says

    Wow – I had a totally different take on the whole Pepper Potts character, but I really like some of the points you made here. I also expected Pepper to be taken hostage, and was relieved when she instead played some roll in saving the day. I really didn’t see Pepper as ‘turning down’ the hero at the film’s end, although I had heard rumors that she did reject him. I felt that her line about being left on the balcony was supposed to be more like a ‘maybe,’ keeping the tension between them going for future films.

  30. Will Budreau says

    Thanks – I came out of the movie not very impressed with a character I had never heard of, and your discussion (and character background) has added a lot of depth. I’ll go back to fully recommending this movie to others :)

  31. d says

    This was a great post; thanks much! I saw Iron Man a couple of weeks ago, and while I enjoyed the film greatly, I couldn’t absolutely love it because of Pepper Pot’s character, and to a lesser extent, many of the female characters (the news reporter disappointed me the most). Some of Pepper’s behavior I found incredulous (the skipping away from evil tottering on enormously high heels was just beyond the point of unbelievability to me).

    And midway through a rant to a bud, he brought up the point that maybe she was like that in the comic, so it’d be unfair to blame the film for the flaw. I thought he had a point. So I actually found this while stumbling around on the net.

    I think Iron Man did a great job of mimimizing what was apparently not that great of a character (to me at least, from the scant searching I did), but still left the model intact. She wasn’t held hostage, but I definitely got the sense that much of the motivation for him getting a new power source was so that he could keep Pepper from dying. She was able to do more, which is good, but at the same time, her at times constant whining minimized the coolness of that; she was just really starting to irk me at the climax.

    I must say though, I am surprised by all the un-love for X3, which I think is not the greatest film ever, but was definitely better in terms of female portrayals. It really was heads and shoulders above the first two films, and I usually pretend that the first one doesn’t exist, and the second one…well it depends on my mood. :)

    But all the female characters were given so much more to do than the first two combined. I admit I could be biased, since I read and loved the comics (at least certain eras), so I knew what paltry shadows of clones of the characters those people were. And I think Bryan ends up looking like roses by default. The women of X are not only some of the most powerful on the team, but they are among the most powerful in the marvel universe. Unlike the other two, X3 actually showed powerful women. Jean Grey is supposed to, at her apex, absorb the energy of a star. And Jean’s shredding people apart like paper is much closer to that than a Jean who couldn’t even get some slimy goo off her face in 1, or could barely contain the dam in 2. And Storm…well she had like what, 5 lines in X1 – most of them bad! – and in the 3rd one, she is actually running the mansion. To me that sounds like a lot to do, even if we don’t see it because it comes at the end. And Storm couldn’t even focus wind in the first one, but in Ratner’s version she was generating focused lightning and focused tornados. We even see the emergence of Kitty Pride doing what she does the best – using her powers but also her brains. And unlike Mystique which seems to be a follower of Magneto, at least in Callisto (and Jean too actually) we have a female villain who I fully believe is following her own agenda) The only character who seems uniformly and equally lame in all three is Rogue – she was never ever close to her true self. Pretty sad.

    It’s hard for me to say what a definitive comic film is for me (in terms of female roles), since so many have positives and negatives, which could cancel each other out. My fave would have to be Daredevil. Before the chorus of boos begin, I’d better be quick. :) But Elektra was a woman who was just about Daredevil’s match, and he not only wasn’t scared by it, he seemed to grow attracted to her because of it. She had a fleshed out character, with her own set of baggage, although a little ambiguous, I think you can make a case that it’s not just her being overpowered that causes her downfall, but her walk down the wrong path pushed by her own flawed choice, and what that meant. She had skills that gave the villain a run for his money, and she managed to stay alive at the end. She had help as we learned, but in the Daredevil film, all we see is the locket in braille dangling on the rooftop (antenna?). There she also did not choose the hero, although he very much wanted her, but chose to stay away because of her own demons. I loved one of her last lines in the film: Daredevil says he doesn’t want to lose her, and she says I’ll find you.

    But like a couple of others, you did see Pepper (going back to Iron Man), in a way I hadn’t thought about, so I’ll have to mull it over a bit. :)

    Thanks for the review!

  32. Patrick says

    habladora:

    Wow – I had a totally different take on the whole Pepper Potts character, but I really like some of the points you made here. I also expected Pepper to be taken hostage, and was relieved when she instead played some roll in saving the day. I really didn’t see Pepper as ‘turning down’ the hero at the film’s end, although I had heard rumors that she did reject him. I felt that her line about being left on the balcony was supposed to be more like a ‘maybe,’ keeping the tension between them going for future films.

    As others have noted in response to my article, a lot of one’s response to Iron Man tends to come from their expectations. I love superheroes, but given the superhero genre’s generally abysmal treatment of female characters, I wasn’t expecting Pepper to be anything more than a Distressed Damsel a la movie Mary Jane. So my response to Pepper was positive because my expectations were so very, very low for a movie that I really wanted to enjoy.

    Could (and should) Pepper have been treated better? Certainly. But I willing to praise the film because it still treated her better than nearly every superhero or action film out there would treat a female supporting character.

  33. Patrick says

    d:

    I think Iron Man did a great job of mimimizing what was apparently not that great of a character (to me at least, from the scant searching I did), but still left the model intact. She wasn’t held hostage, but I definitely got the sense that much of the motivation for him getting a new power source was so that he could keep Pepper from dying. She was able to do more, which is good, but at the same time, her at times constant whining minimized the coolness of that; she was just really starting to irk me at the climax.

    In the comics, Pepper mainly existed to fulfil one of Stan Lee’s favored love triangles. (While I love Stan Lee for how he revolutionized superhero comic characters and narratives, not to mention his hyperactive hyperbole, his takes on gender were very much a product of the time and a background writing romance comics.) I was very pleased to see the long, drawn out Tony-Pepper-Happy triangle completely left out.

    Regarding the X-Men films: While X-Men 3 did give Storm a much bigger part, the rehash of the Dark Phoenix plotline was really, really bad. Yes, it showed an incredibly powerful woman, but that powerful woman was explicitly dangerous, had no control and killed two men she loved, and had to be killed by a man who loved her. It was practically a textbook on fear of female power.

  34. says

    “I must say though, I am surprised by all the un-love for X3, which I think is not the greatest film ever, but was definitely better in terms of female portrayals.”

    I haven’t seen Iron Man, so I can’t say for sure, but I think it’s mostly:

    hype vs. reality – we were set up for the Phoenix storyline, which would have made Jean Grey the star, and we got “can’t decide what story to focus on” combined with “powerful women are too scary and dangerous to not be caged” crap instead. HUGE disappointment.

    and

    reputation – we weren’t just expecting Jean to star, we were expecting the movie to be well written, ‘cuz the last two were. Iron Man, though, who knew what to expect. Kinda like the difference between some random new show and the new show that Whedon is working on. We have very different expectations for Whedon than for the guys that work on shows like The Big Bang Theory.

    Plus, X-3 sucked, in all kinds of ways. From what I hear, Iron Man didn’t. Which makes people feel more charitable towards Iron Man’s faults that they do towards X-3’s

  35. Patrick says

    Kinda like the difference between some random new show and the new show that Whedon is working on. We have very different expectations for Whedon than for the guys that work on shows like The Big Bang Theory.

    Considering that Big Bang Theory was created by Chuck Lorre, the guy behind Two and a Half Men, I’d say expectations for that show’s take on gender were low indeed.

  36. redblossom says

    Ide Cyan { 05.08.08 at 7:55 pm }

    Thank you! I actually had to outline Bechdel’s Law for my husband and brother-in-law, with whom I saw Iron Man. My viewing of Iron Man may have been tainted by the preview I saw for Frank Miller’s version of Will Eisner’s The Spirit, though. It looks exactly like Sin City, down to the Spirit looking and speaking like Clive Owens’s character, albeit with a red tie instead of red converse. I’m guessing it will have none of the sophistication but all of the sexism – perhaps even some excellent Miller misogyny! *headdesk*

  37. MaggieCat says

    My viewing of Iron Man may have been tainted by the preview I saw for Frank Miller’s version of Will Eisner’s The Spirit, though. It looks exactly like Sin City, down to the Spirit looking and speaking like Clive Owens’s character, albeit with a red tie instead of red converse. I’m guessing it will have none of the sophistication but all of the sexism – perhaps even some excellent Miller misogyny! *headdesk*

    You aren’t the only one expecting that.

  38. says

    Patrick – heh.

    The problem is that I don’t pay attention to who does the shows I don’t like, so I don’t learn to avoid what they make.

    But then, I usually decide to avoid them based on their ads, so it all works out anyway.

  39. cub says

    low expectations allowed me to focus on the positive, like getting to watch tony stark get fisted –in the chest– by pepper potts. just thought i’d add one more reversal, that of penetration, to the list.

  40. says

    Patrick, not only is she Bad Evil Scary Female Power embodied in the way you described, but for most of the whole friggin thing she just stands around like a zombie waiting for Magneto to point her at something to destroy!!!

    This is supposed to be the scary Id unleashed? I have major problems with the original Dark Phoenix storyline (hint: when your own characters are all going around shouting over and over ‘This DOESN”T MAKE ANY SENSE!?!” maybe you should actually *listen* to them!) and even more with the progressively depowering retcons to Jean (the whole ‘Xavier had to damp down her power to save her from herself’ which they borrowed for the excuse for why Phoenix appeared in the films was a late retcon) similar to what they did with Moira (who also gets the ‘going evil makes girls horny!’ treatment) but X3 turns Dark Phoenix even *more* unreasonable and PASSIVE!

    Seriously, compare with the not-unproblematic Dark Willow storyline, which was a deliberate homage to the original Dark Phoenix plot, and ask who’s scarier, Willow Rosenberg or 3rd-Movie Jean Grey?

    (Not to mention that the original Dark Phoenix commits suicide – that is, nobly and heroically makes an autonomous sacrifice to save the universe – instead of having to be killed by a male Hero, because nobody in the galaxy is bloody well strong enough to STOP her! Argh!)

    I actually had a long rant partly written not too long ago when I finally got around to seeing it, but my computer crashed and I haven’t had the energy to reconstruct it, because the whole thing was so demoralizing.

  41. says

    Plus – and even the actresses complained about this – all that Rogue did (ie was allowed to do) in X3 was sit around and whine and mope after a guy and be jealous of another girl, after her star turn in X1; Storm’s characterization was taken away and given to Wolverine – she’s the supposed deputy leader now, but he doesn’t listen to her, and he’s right; he’s supposed to be the antisocial people-hating one due to his misfortunes, she’s supposed to be the serene ideallist, but he gets woobiefied and made all Luke Skywalkerish for no reason while her ideallism just evaporates for no reason either. Mystique is depowered and given the ‘woman scorned’ role – and line, her support for the Cause all being dependent on Magneto’s professed love for her! X3’s treatment of women stunk all round.

  42. A.j. says

    First and foremost, thank you for verbalizing a lot of what I really, really enjoyed about Movie-Pepper. You really nailed it when you pointed out that, in comparison to other superhero movies, she had a lot to do and did it well. She did, and it was glorious to see on a mainstream moviescreen.

    Were there problems? Definitely, but I can’t think of a single work of fiction or nonfiction that I haven’t had one or twelve issues with. I’m hoping this is a building block to work from and that in the next movie we get this level (or much better) of Pepper-awesome. And there are so many places that they can go with this that would be so interesting and excellent to watch. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed.

  43. Natalie says

    This is really unheard of in a superhero movie. Pepper turns Tony down, not because he is a superhero, but because she recognizes that because of his character flaws a relationship would be a really, really bad idea.

    Isn’t that why Rachel turns Bruce down at the end of Batman begins? Because being “Bruce Wayne” makes him act like a jackass?

  44. Patrick says

    Not quite. Rachel turns him down because she realizes that he has become a very different person from the man she knew, and even “Bruce Wayne” is now just a mask.

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