Posted by: juliacraig09 | April 10, 2013

Looks and Power? The whole package deal


I recently watched Iron Man 2 and was a bit surprised by the females portrayed in the film. The two main women in the movie were Pepper, blonde on right, who was Iron Man’s assistant for the first movie and part of the second then became CEO of the Starks industry. Pepper practically runs and manages Iron Man’s life and all hi responsibilities. It is very clear from the film that Pepper is the glue to Iron Man and the Starks industry. Iron Man realizes this in the second film and makes her CEO since she basically runs the business already. This called for her to be replaced by a woman named Natasha as Iron Man’s new assistant. The producers had Natasha have an incredible resume and body while also being an extraordinary fighter, which is discovered later in the film.

These two women possess both looks, title, and talent. I was amazed to find this in a highly liked film. Most action films use women as an exploitation and appeal to sex. Just in 2011, The film Transformers 3 aired having a gorgeous blonde that was literally incompetent in all the scenes. Now, I’m not saying that Iron Man 2 did not exploit these women through their appearance. However unlike many other action film, Iron Man 2 also gave these women power and expertise.

But why? Why did the producers use females to demonstrate power? Are times changing where it is now the appealing thing to have women in film that are both powerful and beautiful? Would the film had done so well if these two actresses were not so attractive? Is the aspect of power enough for the audience to enjoy the female characters or does there have to be boobs as well?


  1. I might be a little biased, and it could also be my perception, but Gwyneth Paltrow and Scarlett Johansson aren’t the ideal feminine for me. They both have angular faces, which just strikes me as masculine. Sure they are considered beautiful, but when it comes to having them portray feminine characters with power, I just don’t see them as very feminine, so it makes sense to put a “masculine” looking woman in power. I realize that there are other women who look more masculine than Paltrow and Johansson do, but these two women are the actresses given power in the movie. When I look at Leslie Bibb, who portrays Christine Everhart in the movie, I see a softer female. Although she is a reporter, she reports about Iron Man, a powerful male. That doesn’t really give her any power, as she is only describing how awesome Iron Man is. The less feminine looking women are in power. The more feminine looking woman is only talking about a man. So basically, I don’t think the film was stepping way out of bounds with strong females in the leading roles, as they weren’t exactly softly feminine women (at least to me).

  2. I agree, I do think it is very interesting that the female characters in this film have both beauty and brains, as this is a rare coupling of traits for female film characters to portray. Although I think it is great that they have both beauty and brains it did frustrate me that the women started off in a secretarial type position. Although business oriented and powerful, Pepper’s role of managing everything reminds me the domestic housekeeper feminine role, while Iron Man is out fighting and getting all the attention. In all of the superhero movies, there is never a female MAIN character. Yes there is Cat Woman, a girl in the Fantastic Four, and a few other secondary characters, but never someone in the lead. Not to mention they are always over sexualized. For example, in the most recent Batman, Cat Women is extremely smart and cunning, but also is a size 0 in full leather and spandex. I do appreciate the attempts Iron Man makes to represent a multi talented female, but I hope to one day see a female not over sexualized in a film.

  3. They are still being sexually exploited. Yes they are smart and successful, but many are focusing on their bodies. When these types of women show up a guy in a film, many viewers find it funny and makes the women even more attractive. Bottom line, they are still seen as sex objects. If the women were not as pretty, but still smart, I doubt that the reactions to their performance would be the same.

  4. Reading this post reminded me of this picture (
    And it really made me think that so often women are not just allowed to have strength, power and success. In the character of almost every female movie she might have crazy fighting skills or power but along with that comes a body fitting, cleavage showing costume leaving nothing to be imagined. However, a recent movie that came out was the Hunger Games. It was so relieving to see a female character who wore cargo pants and a t-shirt, did not want or desire a male counterpart and was able to support/provide for herself and was an overall badass!

  5. I believe that the fact that these women are in positions of power and demonstrate it through their actions does add to the film. I believe that people are getting tired of the dumb girl that is half dressed in movies. While men still want half naked girls in their movies if they have a position of power I feel like more people would find that intriguing. Also by having women in power they are expanding their viewers. When the women have some influence over the men, and show power I feel that women are more likely to want to attend the movie with their guy or with their girl friends.

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