Despite the fact that Marvel's upcoming movie Captain America: Civil War will have the most female superheroes on screen at the same time out of any of its movies, it seems as if none of them are being featured in its first wave of toy merchandise…again.
Yesterday, the first trailer for the new Disney Infinity playset featuring Marvel characters made its way onto the internet. Conspicuously missing from the set was the Avenger's newest female hero, the Scarlet Witch.
The set managed to include the Black Panther, Ant-Man, Vision, an updated Captain America and even the black suit-wearing Spider-Man. Spider-Man's set to make an appearance in Civil War, sure, but he isn't an Avenger. He's a character on loan to Marvel from Sony, something that makes the Scarlet Witch's absence from the line up odd, disappointing, but ultimately, not all that surprising.
Last year, Disney, who manufacturers the Disney Infinity line directly, and Marvel faced complaints from fans who felt as if merchandise featuring Rey from Star Wars and the Black Widow were particularly hard to find in stores despite them being primary characters.
The reasoning for Rey's rarity, a number of industry execs explained, ranged from her character's toys selling out to blaming Disney for not releasing the specific specifications by which to design toys modeled after her. Excuses like that might have made sense for an entirely new character being introduced for the first time, but Black Widow had made appearances in four different Marvel movies at that point.
To be frank, Marvel and DC have a terrible track record of giving their female character the proper merchandising exposure. The Scarlet Witch's being left out, though, is striking given Marvel's recent assertions that it's actively working to improve on its diversity report card.
The original Avengers consisted of five white men and one white woman. By the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, though, not only did the earth's mightiest heroes manage to save the world yet again, they also reinvented the team's roster in a major way.
Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Hawkeye, four of the original white guys, were replaced by the Falcon, War Machine, the Vision, and the Scarlet Witch—two black men, an android, and the second woman to join the team, respectively. Led by Captain America and Black Widow, this incarnation of the Avengers seemingly dove right into Marvel's claims that it was committed to diversifying its cinematic universe.
This new team of Avengers is set to be divided in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War that'll make them (and basically every other superhero in the Marvel universe) choose to stand with either Captain America or Iron Man over a debate about a superhero registration act. S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent 13, Sharon Carter, is also set to be heavily featured in Civil War, making the film decidedly more female-driven than any of Marvel's films to date.
After movies like these leave theaters, its the toys and action figures that make studios (and in some cases, actors) their money in the long run. To that end, they can reflect where a studio's opinions and priorities about certain characters lie. Marvel and Disney's decision to leave the Scarlet Witch out and choosing not to update the Black Widow can be read a couple of ways.
Either the companies still falsely believe that little boys aren't interested in playing with toys modeled after women, or they simply don't care enough about the fans out there who have been demanding these toys all along.