The highly-disproportionate ratio of superhero versus superheroine movies has left many a comic book fan – male and female – grumbling, if only because it would be nice to see more diversity in the genre. Problem is, that relevant discussion has a (bad) habit of quickly devolving into an argument of extremes – in which one side dubs the other misogynists, only for the latter to fire back with claims of pseudo-feminism and how the opposition wants all superhero movies to have female leads (because that’s a realistic fear, right?).

It’s no wonder that this is a touchy subject to address, when you consider the traditional objectification – without equal representation – of the women featured in comic books; not to mention, the previous lackluster solo movie vehicles released for characters like Supergirl, Elektra and Catwoman. (And do we even need to bring up the struggle to get either a decent Wonder Woman TV show or film made?)

Avengers writer-director Joss Whedon is heralded for his ability to devise compelling female characters – which includes on his cult TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly – and he touched on the superheroine issue during a recent interview with The Daily Beast:

“Toymakers will tell you they won’t sell enough, and movie people will point to the two terrible superheroine movies that were made and say, You see? It can’t be done. It’s stupid, and I’m hoping The Hunger Games will lead to a paradigm shift. It’s frustrating to me that I don’t see anybody developing one of these movies. It actually pisses me off. My daughter watched The Avengers and was like, “My favorite characters were the Black Widow and Maria Hill,” and I thought, Yeah, of course they were. I read a beautiful thing Junot Diaz wrote: “If you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.”

Presumably, Whedon is referencing the Supergirl and Elektra movies (since films like Catwoman and Barb Wire technically do not feature superheroine leads). That aside, Whedon has proven willing to put his money where his mouth is, between his previous attempt to develop a Wonder Woman movie and fleshing out the Black Widow character (Scarlett Johansson) – introduced in Iron Man 2 – so much that she become a fan-favorite team member in The Avengers.

Similarly, Whedon’s upcoming Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series will introduce a few new female characters – including (gasp!) some non-white ones – and The Avengers 2 looks to feature at least one new super-powered lady addition in the form of Scarlet Witch. The hope, of course, is that we start to get more variety in the personalities and attributes of these comic book movie supeheroines, much like the case for the men (ranging from the snarky Tony Stark to the golden-boy Steve Rogers).

Speaking of Iron Man, Whedon also offered assurances that Robert Downey Jr. will – without a doubt – be reprising his role in Avengers 2:

“He is Iron Man. He is Iron Man in the way that Sean Connery was James Bond. I have no intention of making Avengers 2 without him, nor do I think I’ll be called upon to do that. I don’t think it’s in my interest, Marvel’s interest, or his interest, and I think everything will be fine. But I know that this is Hollywood and you roll with things. You have to be ready for the unexpected. But I loved working with Robert, and everybody knows he embodied that role in a way no one else can. The day he was cast, I went up to [Marvel Studios president] Kevin Feige and said, ‘You brilliant son of a bitch.'”

The conclusion to Iron Man 3 – in combination with the reports about strenuous cast negotiations for Avengers 2 – may have raised doubts about future Iron Man installments, but there’s never been any legitimate reason to believe that RDJ might not appear in the Avengers sequel. (The actor previously assured us as much will be true.) Nevertheless, it’s encouraging to hear something like that from the creative architect on Marvel Studio’s Phase 2.

Marvel has publicly announced that it is willing to recast Tony Stark down the line (maybe even for Iron Man 4). However, it’s best to wait and see what the state of things are in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – like which characters are still living after the “awful” events that Whedon has promised in Avengers 2 – by the end of Phase 2, before speculating too much about future developments (be it recasting or Marvel releasing more superheroine movies).

Iron Man 3 is now playing in theaters, Thor: The Dark World arrives in theaters on November 8th, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4th, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1st, 2014, and The Avengers 2 on May 1st, 2015.

Phase 3 begins when Ant-Man opens in theaters on November 6, 2015, and films like Doctor Strange, Black Panther and Inhumans could be arriving thereafter.

Source: The Daily Beast