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So; Mad Max, am I right? Actually, I’m not sure if I am, because I haven’t seen the movie yet, but by all accounts and indications, it is one of the most impressive films made in recent memory. It certainly made its way onto my radar not by the larger-than-life explosions in the trailers, nor by the general onslaught of marketing that is pretty much necessary for any massive budget blockbuster extravaganza. I’ve become inured to all that sort of thing and take it all with a grain of salt after being disappointed so many times before. What made me sit up and pay attention to a film about a post-apocalyptic wasteland populated by more vehicular homicide than actual people was the collective buzz around the treatment of female characters in such a setting.

Is it time? Are we there yet? More than fifty years after the feminist movement began, and we are finally at a point where the main machine of Hollywood is going to give female characters thoughtful and equal standing among male counterparts instead of tossing them concessions to keep them quiet? The answer is no; not across the board yet, anyway. 
As much as I loved the new Avengers movie, (spoiler alert) there were more than a few times that I felt the writing for the female heroes in the story was fairly two dimensional and predicated on their gender almost exclusively. Not that the guys had much more development; cut to Cap’n America expressing emotional strife by splitting wood with his bare hands, And Thor… was also there, right? But with the male writing, only half of the motivations seemed to be relevant to their gender, whereas nothing that the Scarlet Witch or Black Widow did made sense unless placed in the context of their gender. 
Examples: Natasha Romanov feeling like a monster for not being able to have kids. Point!
Wanda Maximoff being the only person falling to pieces in the middle of a tense fight. Point!
And Hawkeye’s wife… Was also there, right?
Anyway, I digress. I love epics, they’re one of my favorite things ever. The idea that a group of strangers can come together from around the world to share in the experience of a collective adventure is something truly magical. When they don’t send a positive message or send no message at all, it always feels like a wasted opportunity to affect change on such a massive scale. Harry Potter promotes friendship, individualism, and independence. Star Trek promotes humanism, progress, and racial equality. And Mad Max makes a statement that there is no reason female characters can’t be every bit as powerful in a variety of ways as their traditionally male counterparts, and that there is no reason to reduce them to one the generic handful of stereotypes that we see repeated without depth again and again, nor is there any benefit towards sexualizing a character when it has no relevance to the plot. Things like that are lazy, they are pandering, and they are beneath us.
Here’s to a generation where our fictional universes are well-developed thought-scapes that are welcoming to all people everywhere. 

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