The XX Factor

The Year Disney Realized Women Can Do More Than Fall In Love

Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios, will finally put out a female-led movie in 2017.

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

As 2014 comes to a close, DoubleX is looking back on the year that was—the stories we covered and missed that captivated, puzzled, enraged, and delighted us.

This time last year, Disney’s Marvel movies, while undeniably entertaining, were so male-dominated that Joss Whedon had to fight to keep the studio from cutting Black Widow out of The Avengers. That’s how grim things were: The studio actually thought people wouldn’t want to see Scarlet Johansson in a tight leather suit on the big screen. 

What a difference a year makes. After the success of Disney’s Frozen, with “Let It Go” becoming the most popular girl power anthem of the year, Pixar, long criticized for the male-centric model of most of its movies, announced the upcoming Inside Out, about a little girl named Riley. No longer will Brave languish as the token “girl” movie in their catalog. 

Marvel Studios didn’t have quite that kind of breakthrough, but 2014 showed the studio softening up on its all-men-all-the-time mentality. True, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige stepped in it in August by saying that it is a “challenging thing” to create a single female-led film. But both Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: Winter Soldier made tons of money and got a warm critical reception, and both featured ass-kicking women (Zoe Saldana and Scarlet Johansson) in second billing roles.

Perhaps this success is what prompted Feige to step up to the challenge: In October, Marvel announced that it finally—finally—will put out a female-led movie, Captain Marvel, in 2017. Better yet, the character they went for is beloved for being a genuinely feminist one, who is also supposed to be a tall woman of nearly six feet (cough, Gwendoline Christie, cough). And on the TV front, ABC will begin airing a show about post-war S.H.I.E.L.D founder Peggy Carter this January, called Agent Carter. Netflix is also doing some series for Marvel, one of which will be centered around a former superhero, now-detective named Jessica Jones

In 2014, Disney woke up to the fact that audiences want to see women as more than the love interest in movies and TV shows. I’m excited to see what they produce in the next few years.