Original Publish Date: June 20, 2014
There’s a big trend going around about women in film — whether they are written too weak, too strong, too much like men, too much like stereotypical women. I personally think this is a great conversation to have, as the state of women in film (as well as other “minority” groups) in cinema demands this kind of attention.
Women in science fiction has always been an important part of the conversation, as it’s where we often see some of the most progressive (and regressive) portrayals of women. So when I saw the first two trailers of Guardians of the Galaxy, what struck me the most was the speaking. Every character gets a line but female Guardian Gamora – even Groot, who can literally only say three words. It wasn’t until the 2nd UK trailer was released this week that we heard her speak at all.
This raises the question, what can we expect from Gamora in this movie? A sexy badass like all the others, or is Marvel keeping it a secret?
In the above trailer, we finally hear Gamora, arguably the most qualified of the group to wield deadly weapons as an assassin, speak up. Mostly speak words that are aimed at the main character Peter Jason Quill about following his lead, but I will take what I can get. It just seemed so weird to me that the woman who gets second billing on the posters and trailers is virtually silent until this latest trailer.
Now this might be a weird thing to fixate on, particularly because it’s the absence of something not the overexposure, exploitation or degeneration of it. In some ways you’d be right to think that — surely the fact she didn’t get any lines before was an editing coincidence. Karen Gillan’s character Nebula doesn’t speak either and she’s one of the main villains. Why shouldn’t I be more perturbed about her being half naked in the first teaser and little else?
My big problem with having Gamora silent is that women, fictional and not, often get silenced by others, no matter who they are like as characters or people. By taking away her voice you render her nothing more than sexy, butt-kicking window dressing, especially with an actress as talented as Zoe Saldana.
Someone brought up the idea that maybe Gamora in the film was more of the quiet, brooding type, and in all fairness that would explain a lot but it’s not in character. First appearing in Strange Tales #180, Gamora is the last of the Zen Whoberi, a survivor of their genocide. She is raised by Thanos (the purple alien dude at the end of The Avengers) as an assassin who gave her cybernetic enhancements to supplement her intense fighting training.
When Thanos turns out to be evil, she turns on him and eventually joins the Guardians of the Galaxy. There’s a good chance they’ll use this story as its basically the only one she’s got, but (from what I’ve read) she doesn’t seem like a reserved character in her comic incarnation. She even proclaims she is “the deadliest woman in the whole galaxy,” and by what I’ve read of her (which isn’t much) she’s outspoken and vivacious, definitely not shy. They could always be going for a different angle but do we honestly need another reserved, non-speaking badass, when that wasn’t her personality in the source material?
What doesn’t make sense is that Marvel would silence a character they (mostly) don’t sexualize. She wear full body armor, and while it’s tight it is not all that revealing in the trailers (the posters are another matter). So what gives?
Trailers generally suck. You know it, I know it, everyone who had seen movies in the last decade knows it. It’s basically trying to grab the attention of the main audience, and who is the target for Marvel? Men. And like I said, sex sells, so at least for most. So Gamora silence is probably less about her character and more about trying to get guys to buy tickets. Let’s just hope that once they have their money, Marvel will give us more that just a stoic sword-wielding love interest.