Artwork by Chloe Leeson
Having been a huge fan of Marvel Studios and its films for the past four years, or so, I usually have nothing but praise for its cinematic world. However, recently, I have grown rather tired in whom they refer to as the ‘outcast’ of society. Growing up, I had always identified closely with Peter Parker, better known as Spider-man, as he repeatedly struggled to find his place amongst his peers, hoping to eventually feel at ease amongst others; just as I experienced much conflict within myself as I spent many of my younger years grappling with my budding attraction to other girls; attempting to understand what made me different from my friends. As a result, I invested myself deeply in Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-man’ trilogy and relied on Peter for inspiration. If he could transition from a ‘nerdy’ teenage boy into an esteemed superhero, I could accept myself and face my sexuality. Now, though, I feel as if Peter is no longer the greatest representation of an actual outsider. Yes, he is ridiculed for his love of science, for his quiet demeanour and his focus on comics but, ultimately, the warmth of the arms offered to him by society is far more comforting than those presented to people like myself. Peter is, in every way, my hero, but in the modern era, is his story really that unusual? We live in a world of rapid technological advances, where those with an interest in science are admired, rather than teased, and where comic books have become an integral part of mainstream media, after all, ‘The Avengers: Age of Ultron’ has already become one of the highest grossing films of all time. So, can we say, then, that Peter Parker is no longer the symbol of isolation? With the growing popularity of ‘nerd culture’, it is easy to argue that, yes, this is true. In this case, it is essential that we ask who the outsider is, in our society, and how they can become the next reincarnation of the superhero. For me, the answer is simple. A modern outsider is anyone that falls outside of the privileged category in life. And, sadly, that includes anyone that isn’t straight, white or cisgender. So, isn’t it about time that we gave someone that doesn’t meet those requirements a platform that is equal to Peter’s? Wouldn’t it make more sense for a teenage girl that has to come to terms with a sexuality that differs from the majority’s to channel her confusion, her frustration and society’s mistreatment of her into the motivation to protect others? The deep racial tensions of modern America, too, could serve as a reason for one to fight for those in need, as could the deplorable oppression faced by members of the transgender community. Why, then, do we continue to focus on the outdated idea that enjoying academia comes at the cost of unpopularity and hatred? I would like to see a hero that represents the actual ‘outcasts’ of the world, that fights for the fundamental human rights that so many of us are denied and that symbolises the struggle that comes with being true to ourselves. And I can only hope that the increasing popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will take advantage of the unrivalled attention that they are given and use this to give the under-represented a voice in film.
By Hannah Ryan
Hannah, is 17 and from England. She likes little indie movies, Christoph Waltz, David Fincher, Spike Jonze and cool female actresses. She loves to chill with her amazing girlfriend and debate over dumb romantic movies with her and she also likes music, pretty much all music types from cheesy adolescent pop to indie feminist rockers. Taylor Swift and Clarke Griffin are the only other things that matter to her.
Categories: Feminist Criticism