Marvel Studios has gotten into this habit of releasing "character posters" in the lead-up to the release of a new film. Each poster highlights a specific character in the movie, to familiarize them to the general public, and to excite and titillate the fanboys like me who eat up every single bit of promotional material like our lives depend on it. However, there's been something about these last two batches of character posters that have really bothered me — specifically, the airbrush jobs on Scarlett Johannson's Black Widow for Captain America: The Winter Solder and Karen Gillan's Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy.
See, ScarJo and Karen Gillan are already both incredibly attractive individuals. They both make my list of Five Celebrities That You're Allowed To Have An Affair With And It Totally Doesn't Count As Cheating, which is a list that everyone in a relationship is encouraged to have, according to my fiancé (Emma Stone is also on my list and no I don't have a thing for redheads what are you talking about). But for all of the work that Marvel has tried to do in promoting women, diversity, and equality, these posters make the women like, well, comic book characters. And what's worse, I actually noticed the difference (and not in like a creepy way where I have their figures memorized in my mind).
Let's have a look, shall we?
Scarlett Johannson is already superhumanly gorgeous. And I'm used to posters like these being all prettied up — hair blowing, skin smoothed out, even boobs rounded out. But even at first glance, I was able to see pretty clearly that her hips and waist were curving in ways that even isn't possible (and I'm definitely not the kind of person who normally looks for or observes these things). Consider:
This is an actual still from The Avengers, with ScarJo wearing basically the same costume. She still looks ridiculously gorgeous — and I'm sure there were several high-paid individuals on the costume and make-up teams that were on-set to ensure that she looked as ravishing as possible — but she at least she still looks human, and her level of attractiveness is arguably attainable.
More recently, Marvel released their character posters for Guardians of the Galaxy, and it was Karen Gillan's Nebula that I had a problem with. (The character poster for Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana, actually looks all right — photoshopped and glossy as all hell, to say nothing of her alien green skin. But as far as her figure goes, it does like Zoe Saldana, or at least a photorealistic simulacrum:
Before she got into acting, Karen Gillan was a model, and as such, has the incredibly thin, almost waif-like body of most models (one of the reasons she bears such an eerie resemblance to my own fiancé, which has nothing to do with the success of our relationship but is nonetheless awesome). Now, as long as we're talking beauty standards, there's a lot that has been said and could be said about this image of beauty for models. Many people that argue that thin is not always better, that curves are sexier, and so on; some might yell, "Eat a sandwich!" (and she may, in fact, eat lots of sandwiches, but happens to have been born with a body type and metabolism where it doesn't really matter). That's why the Nebula character poster made me do a double-take:
Not as superhumanly proportioned as Black Widow (disregarding the blue skin and cybernetic implants, anyway), but still. Let's take a look at Karen Gillan in real life:
Nebula's body bears absolutely no resemblance to Karen Gillan's body. She is neither busty nor curvy, especially not in the way that Nebula is. Hell, compare that character poster to the Guardians screen-grab up top. And if you think that's because her outfit here is a little blouse-y, or her pose / padding in the screen-grab makes it hard to ascertain, here she is in lingerie to give a, erm, better picture:
Now, *I* still think she's sexy as hell. As far as blue-skinned cyborg sociopathic Luphomoids are concerned, Nebula's also pretty smokin'. But if you're trying to tell me that those physical bodies belong to the same person, then you must be mad.
In the "crazy" sense of the word, I mean. Although anger would also be an appropriate emotional response. Regardless of your preferred usage, I'm still extremely disappointed in Marvel for perpetuating these problematic portrayals of women's bodies in order to sell their movies when they otherwise assert themselves as such a progressive company. Again, I understand that, to a certain degree, this is just how movie posters work — always has been, always will, and that's indicative of even larger problems. But if you ask me, these examples take it even further than the standard Photoshop fancying. So Fiege — Alonso — Quesada — c'mon guys (emphasis on the guys). Get it together.