In the latest instance of a celebrity blaming fans for the failings of a multi-million dollar entertainment franchise rather than giving even the slightest consideration to the fact that the studios themselves may be responsible for their own problems, actress Sarah Michelle Gellar has claimed that the heavy criticism leveled at female-led Marvel projects stems not from issues with their quality, but rather audiences’ own inability to accept non-male superheroes.
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The Buffy the Vampire Slayer star offered her opinion on the topic of gendered superhero criticism during a recent interview given to UK news outlet The Guardian given in promotion of her new supernatural YA drama television series, Wolf Pack.
At one point reflecting on her time as the titular Slayer, Gellar opined that scheduling conflicts with her role as the series’ lead led her to turn down a number of potential roles in films that would go on to great success such as Fight Club or Gangs of New York, she was both proud to have “made a great television show”.
“My mom was a single mother, working just above the poverty line, and I got to travel the world, to see and do things that would never have been afforded to me,” said the actress before admitting that, despite the temporary career burnout it caused her in recent years from which she is just now returning, “I love what I do – which is work, work, work.”
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Speaking to her own career success and how it stemmed from her performances in such horror and horror-adjacent hits as not only Buffy, but also I Know What You Did Last Summer, Cruel Intentions, and the live-action Scooby-Doo duology, Gellar then posited that “Genre is where women can really succeed and hold an audience.”
That is, however, save for films in the superhero genre, which the actress argued would be unfairly excoriated if they focused on a female hero.
Turning her attentions to the current kingpin of spandex-tights heavy films, Gellar lamented, “Every time a Marvel movie tries to do a female cast, it just gets torn apart.”
“Unfortunately, audiences weren’t as accepting,” claimed the actress. “There’s still this mentality of ‘the male superhero’, this very backwards way of thinking.”
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It should be noted that in reality, as mentioned above, the issues fans took with Marvel’s female-led endeavors had nothing to do with the gender of its leads, but rather the quality of their stories and cinematography.
For example, the typically-raised ‘smoking gun’ example of fans’ supposed ‘anti-female’ fervor, Captain Marvel is generally accepted by its critics to be a fine, if not standard superhero origin tale.
Instead, fans were put off by the fact that not only was Marvel trying to force audiences to treat Carol Danvers with the same reverence as such comic book icons as Captain America or Spider-Man, but that its lead actress responded to critics of this cynical attempt at artificial relevance by pompously writing them off as bigots.
Then there’s Black Widow, a film which most audiences had been clamoring for ever since her proper ‘superhero debut’ in the first Avengers film.
This outlook towards a Natasha solo adventure only soured when the film finally came to fruition and was found to be filled with backstory-ruining quips – why does Yelena treat the forced-hysterectomies forced upon Red Room recruits with such levity when her sister could barely bring herself to talk about it with Bruce in Age of Ultron? – and embarassingly poor CGI.
Audiences rejected the film not because it focused on women, but because after years of anticipation, what they got was perhaps the laziest and most ‘Marvel Studios’ movie of the entire franchise.
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This same strain of bait-and-switch-inspired frustration also serves to explain why audiences, who for so long had hoped to see the former Sorcerer Supreme used to his full visual and horror potential as a magic-based character, had no love for Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.
After leaving fans abuzz with what many have argued are both the best MCU climaxes and post-credits teases in the good Doctor’s first solo outing, Marvel decided to do a full 180 and use his sequel to offer some sort of ‘vindication’ to Wanda Maximoff’s post-WandaVision heel turn.
That fans only disliked the film and did not at this point immediately and entirely abandon the franchise is nothing short of a miracle.
Of course, all of this is to say nothing of David Cohen’s abominable Thor: Love and Thunder.
A film so awful that even shill websites and casual audiences found themselves unable to defend it, fans didn’t take issue with a female character taking center stage, but rather the fact that they went about it by bastardizing an iconic, beloved, and already-established and once again demanding that audiences accept them as an equally-laudable character.
If Marvel had instead focused the film on an original character, say Thor Girl, and showed her facing trials and tribulations alongside the God of Thunder as she worked to be a worthy successor rather than being heralded as the ‘best Thor ever’ on the grounds of little more than existing as a woman, it’s easy to imagine that audiences wouldn’t have reacted so viscerally to this trainwreck.
The first season of Wolf Pack is currently airing on Paramount Plus.
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