The Avengers Didn’t Pass the Bechdel Test. Oh well!


Yes, I know, I know. It didn’t pass the Bechdel test…. BUT IT STILL ROCKS!

The Avengers Poster

For a movie or television program to pass the Bechdel test there are three basic criteria which must be met.

  1. It includes at least two women
  2. Who have at least one conversation
  3. About something other than a man or men

The Avengers has two women all right, but they don’t converse together once during the whole movie so therefore they don’t even have the opportunity to discuss a man… let alone what lip products or doctors they may share in common to get that full pouty look. Photo from The Avengers

Not passing the Bechdel test however, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not a good piece of entertainment. Neither is the Bechdel test an accurate assessment of a high level of feminist content. What the test DOES measures is a lack of female oriented story lines over all. The overwhelming LACK of movies that pass the test demonstrates that the entertainment industry revolves primarily around men and men’s lives and men’s stories.

( What if the Male Avengers posed like the Female one?)

Many, many GREAT movies do not pass the Bechdel test. This includes Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter just as examples. Both of these are GREAT movies, but again examples of the appalling lack of “herstory”. This problem doesn’t go unrecognized however. Take a look at this interview with Joss Whedon and various cast members regarding published in a prominent magazine and posted by Feminist Frequency: The Avengers and the Smurfette

That being said, The Avengers was still a fantastic piece of work. Walking into it, I wondered to myself how Joss Whedon was going to carry this off. In my opinion, Iron Man was the best of the series of other wise fairly bland movies. Tony Stark played by Robert Downey is by far the strongest and most developed character of the group. I really expected this movie to be dominated by the big metal hero. Not so! I was very pleasantly surprised at how well balanced the show was between all of the characters. Each one had their time in the limelight and it was done very smoothly. No indication of the placating father who might give the same treat to all of the kids just so they wouldn’t argue over who was the favorite.

The humor was of course what made the show uniquely Whedonesque. It’s what he does best! What I also LOVED about this movie is that every geek’s fantasy fight between characters was dealt with. Who would win if Hulk battled Thor? Who would win if Thor went up against Iron Man? We got to see it all and again it was done with such finesse that no one’s favorite came up with the short end of the stick. Very diplomatically dealt with Mr. Whedon!  I also loved how it was really the Hulk who, like T Rex, came in and saved the day. I love how it’s this character, which represents that dark side of what we are, is also our secret weapon.

My one complaint is the lack of Black Widow’s fire power, those two tiny little pistols against those massive sky swimming, mechanoid, turtle ships? Seriously?  Couldn’t they have given her something a little bigger? (Sigh , just another case of women having to do twice the work for the same recognition.)

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