The Feminist’s Box Office Call of Duty

[caption id="attachment_22588" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Marvel's Ant-Man Marvel’s Ant-Man[/caption]


Confession time: I really want to see Ant-Man this weekend. But I feel it is my duty as a feminist to go see Trainwreck, and moreover, to NOT see Ant-Man.

I’ve got a busy weekend. It’s my wedding anniversary, I’m performing in two shows, plus your standard weekend social obligations. At best I can squeeze in a Sunday matinee. There can be only one.

[caption id="attachment_22591" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Amy Schumer and Bill Hader in 'Trainwreck' Amy Schumer and Bill Hader in Trainwreck[/caption]


And I must see Trainwreck to support women in comedy, specifically the rising stardom of Amy Schumer, whose Comedy Central series is refreshingly, delightfully, overtly feminist. I must do my part, spend my $10.50, help prove that female-driven movies can kill it at the box office. That romcoms can be summer tentpoles. I don’t know how sex-positive Trainwreck will turn out to be, but I should find out, and write a timely new-release Bitch Flicks piece about it. I must answer the call.

[caption id="attachment_22590" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Ok, ok! I'll go see 'Trainwreck' Ok, ok! I’ll go see Trainwreck[/caption]


Conversely, I must reject Ant-Man. Not only to highlight the relative (hopeful) success of Trainwreck (my guess is Minions will carry the weekend again anyway). Because Ant-Man is the tipping point in Marvel’s frustrating over-reliance on white male superheroes, trotting out C-list characters before Captain Marvel and Black Panther (both flicks pushed back to accommodate the utterly pointless third go at Spider-Man, blerg), and with no Black Widow movie on the horizon. Because the #JanetVanCrime of fridging Wasp, a founding member of the Avengers. Because a sympathetic portrayal of Hank Pym might actually make my blood boil (OK, well, not literally, but it could spike my blood pressure to dangerous levels).

[caption id="attachment_22601" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Janet Van Dyne  aka Wasp named the Avengers, but she's being erased in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Janet Van Dyne aka Wasp named the Avengers, but she’s being erased in the Marvel Cinematic Universe[/caption]
But I wannnnaaaaa see Ant-Man. I love superhero movies. And heist movies. Ant-Man is both. Matt Zoller Seitz, possibly my most trusted critic at present, says it is really good. It’s got some Honey, I Shrunk the Kids perspective stuff, which is always fun (probably less fun when it relies on CGI, but still). I’ve had a crush on Paul Rudd for 20 years. Twenty years! TWO THIRDS OF MY LIFE. And the post-credits sequence teases Captain America: Civil War, which I have been eagerly anticipating since, well, the post-credits sequence of Captain America: The Winter Soldier*. I don’t know if I’m strong enough to resist the Marvel machine.
[caption id="attachment_22594" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.[/caption]


So I start talking myself into how it is OK for me to go see Ant-Man. The superhero movie bubble is going to pop, but I’m not ready for that to happen yet. Not before Captain Marvel and Black Panther start filming. And Hera forbid this spilling over into the DC side of the superhero movie industry before Wonder Woman.

And if I had to pick the pin that would pop the bubble, it would be the new Spider-Man, or as I like to call it, Spider-Why. Three white boy Peter Parkers in 15 years? WHY. WHY. WHY. (I said it three times even though that’s painfully redundant. See what I did there?) So I should support Ant-Man to make the new Spider-Man look worse. That makes sense, right? OK, I’m really grasping at straws.

[caption id="attachment_22599" align="aligncenter" width="500"]I'd rather see the superhero movie bubble pop with the third white boy Spider-Man I’d rather see the superhero movie bubble pop with the third white boy Spider-Man[/caption]


As I wrestle with which wide-release big studio movie I am going to see, I am reminded of the heroic efforts of some feminists to ONLY support female-directed or written movies. Or at least actively seek them out and promote them, instead of drinking whatever sand Hollywood just poured over the masses. I recognize applying feminist critiques to mainstream movies isn’t enough. This conundrum I’ve imposed on myself highlights the cracks in my feminism. (For what it’s worth, Amy Schumer wrote the screenplay for Trainwreck, so even though its advertising says “From the guy who brought you Bridesmaids” [also written by women!], I think it is fair to call Trainwreck is a film by a woman.)

[caption id="attachment_22598" align="aligncenter" width="552"]Trainwreck promo image says "from the guy who brought you Bridesmaids", even though both films were written by women Trainwreck promo image says “from the guy who brought you Bridesmaids,” even though both films were written by women[/caption]


The compromise I will make is to see Trainwreck this weekend and hold off on Ant-Man for at least another week.  And then seek out some of the latest independent films directed by women. I will fulfill my feminist call of duty to the best of my ability.

[caption id="attachment_22589" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Ant-Man gives a thumbs up. Ant-Man gives my plan a thumbs up.[/caption]


(*For those of you who think it is ridiculous to want to see a movie in part for its post-credits sequence, well, you are totally right. But let me remind you of a simpler time, before YouTube, when Meet Joe Black got a box office bump just from running the trailer for Star Wars Episode I. Geeks do silly things.)


Robin Hitchcock is a writer based in Pittsburgh who saw Meet Joe Black in the theater for reasons other than the Phantom Menace trailer. She has since improved her life choices.