The Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the most popular entertainment brands on the planet, and a good deal of that popularity has manifested through the massive amount of merchandise produced featuring the various characters. However, a persistent criticism of the brand has been that female characters have been underrepresented in merchandising efforts - leaving fans of such characters unable to find toys, apparel, etc featuring them.
Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige weighed in on the controversy, stating that the company is taking steps to correct this perception. As part of a an interview event for Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 attended by Screen Rant and other members of the entertainment press in April, Feige was asked upfront about the supposed shortages of merchandise featuring female characters from the Marvel films and abou what we can expect from the Guardians sequel which has notably more female leads than most Marvel movies.
While he upheld a long-established official position of the studio that the disparity is perceived because of what stores choose to stock more so than what Marvel chooses to manufacture; he also maintained that steps are being taken to make the situation better:
"That was very frustrating for us, because we see it from the other side, right. When I say we, I mean the filmmakers, because we’re presented with the stuff that’s being made, and there’s, I don’t know if there’s an absolutely equal sampling, but Black Widow was all over that. Gamora was all over that stuff. What we don’t see is how much of it is in any given store. How easy is one piece of merchandise to find versus another piece of merchandise. So, we see the stuff and we go, oh great, these are all our characters, they’re all great represented, they’re all going to be sold, and then we find out, oh, you can’t find this, you can’t find that, or there’s lunch boxes or a backpack where a certain character is not on it, and I think the outrage was great, because that’s not going to happen anymore. And that was one of our big things we set out to do and was very important to James as well, was putting, as we did in the first film, with a number of characters, even more so this time, putting women at the forefront of the story."
Additionally, when pressed to clarify what sort of effort is being made at the creative level to improve the scenario, Feige reaffirmed the commitments of not only himself and Guardians director James Gunn but the broader Marvel Studios corporate structure to making this change a reality - to the extent that they can:
"We can’t have sway over what a retail store, how many items of what they want to stock on a shelf, but when toy sets come over, or t-shirt designs come over, if they’re not represented properly or representative of the film, we’re not even saying is the equality of each gender specific, we’re going does it represent the movie we’re making, and if it doesn’t, we send it back until it does."
Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 features expanded roles for female characters including Gamora and Nebula along with newcomer Mantis and a female nemesis in the form of Ayesha, all of whom we've already started seeing in licenced products. James Gunn told us as far back as the press junket for the first Guardians that he wanted more female characters on his team, and he's delivering exactly that with the sequel.
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Set to the all-new sonic backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is written and directed by James Gunn and stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as Baby Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Tommy Flanagan, Laura Haddock, with Sylvester Stallone, and Kurt Russell. Kevin Feige is producing, and Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Jonathan Schwartz, Nikolas Korda and Stan Lee are the executive producers.
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) release date: May 05, 2017