Op/Ed: Response to Moviefone 'Girl's Guide' to AVENGERS


Dear Moviefone,

I had no idea you employed time and space travelers.

Now, now, Moviefone, don't even act like you don't know what I'm talking about. Wednesday, you posted an article called "A Girl's Guide to the Avengers" and wow… You started it with this paragraph:

As your boyfriend probably told you, "The Avengers" is hitting theaters this Friday. And you, dutiful girlfriend, are attending. But you hate action movies and you've never even read a comic book. (Of course, that's not a slight against the girls who actually do read comic books — i.e. real fans, actual people with varied interest — but for this, let's just go with the stock view of ladies, ladies!)

Now that there, that is right clever. Just in case anyone takes offense to your opening line, appease the situation by telling those people to shut up and ignore the obvious flaw. It's also helpful to emphasize you are specifically talking to "ladies" and not "actual people with varied interests." I had no idea that ladies (even in a "stock view") were not actual people. Was my mother not technically a person? The religious implications concerning my birth now are startling!


Further down, after you point out how women will inevitably suffer from "confusion or mid-movie what's-going-on whisperings," you decide to provide information on what's previously been established concerning our main characters. Except your info seems a little… off? We'll say off.

On the Black Widow, you note "… despite her obvious appeal, here she's far more superhero than damsel in distress." Really? Despite her attractiveness, we should actually take her seriously as a fighter and a hero? Attractive women can be effective in combat? My friends in the armed services will be overjoyed to hear it.

Iron Man is called a "quick-witted billionaire." True, but "scientific genius" or "revolutionary technologist" might have been more accurate. I have a fairly quick wit and have not been able to construct a super-strong, flying exoskeleton, equipped with British artificial intelligence, that runs on a clean, renewable energy source (but give me time, I'm very clever). You then describe Captain America as a "hunky supersolider" (typo is theirs) who was "created" during World War II and then "crashed into the Arctic." Well, here you missed out on an actual opportunity to educate. A friend of mine who hasn't seen Captain America read that description and assumed you meant that Captain America was an android, since he was "created," and that his crash was an accident. Both of these are incorrect, as is your claim that Thor is exiled on Earth. That happened in the movie Thor, yes, but then that exile ended. You knew that, right?


Oh! Look at the Hulk's description! "After an experiment oopsie, he was exposed to massive amounts of gamma radiation, thus creating an easily angered green monster." I'm not against humor, but is this all you want to say? Might've been more helpful to write: "While unknowingly participating in an attempt to recreate Captain America, Dr. Bruce Banner was injected with an imperfect super-soldier serum and then exposed to intense gamma rays, cursing him to transform into a raging monster whenever his adrenaline rises." If you're giving a primer on the Avengers, it might be nice to note how one Avenger owes his existence, in part, to one of the other team members. It's a major link in the shared cinematic universe.

Moving on to Hawkeye. Oh, poor Hawkeye. He gets no lines in the trailers, he's barely seen in TV spots, and your description of him is "The World's Greatest Marksman," followed by the phrase " ‘Nough said." Man, Hawkeye just can't get any attention, can he? As for " ‘Nough said," is this supposed to be a Marvel reference? Stan Lee's famous phrase is ‘Nuff said. Spelling may not matter to you, as evidenced by the word "supersolider," but comic geeks care. It's like forgetting that there's a hyphen in Spider-Man's name, it just makes us angry.


Moving on, you say S.H.I.E.L.D. is a fictional CIA (no, not really) which deals with superhuman dangers (right, among other things) and then you reveal the acronym stands for Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate. Very nice! Yet, still wrong. See, that's what it stands for in the comic books. But in the movie, the acronym stands for Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division. So in a six-word phrase, you're three words off. Which is strange, because multiple Marvel Studios films tell you what S.H.I.E.L.D. stands for, not only by showing you the symbol but via character dialogue. Agent Coulson literally tells the audience what it stands for twice!

So you confused me, Moviefone. How were so many errors made? It's almost as if the writer didn't actually watch the films and just looked up some quick information on Wikipedia. That can't be right! This is Moviefone! The word "movie" is literally in the title, why would they not watch movies? Then again, why would they spoil movies that haven't been released yet? Because that happened in this piece, too, when the Tesseract was explained and a story beat of The Avengers was revealed.

But perhaps you forgot to eliminate that spoiler when you were so busy telling the ladies to specifically say specific things to their boyfriends like, "Joss Whedon is the man," and warning them to dismiss their impulse to say "Oh, so it's like the 'New Year's Eve' of superhero movies?" and "Boys are so weird." Very good of you to tell women to declare that Joss Whedon is cool. How could they have come to that conclusion on their own? Certainly not by watching the film and forming an opinion or by checking out any other work he's done, none of which has appealed to females.

Behind-the-Scenes Images From AVENGERS
Behind-the-Scenes Images From AVENGERS

None of this makes sense. How could this be so poorly put together? How can I accept that several hours after it was put up, the only thing Moviefone did in response to the outcry was to backpedal by re-titling the article slightly and telling us that we are supposed to think it's satire, despite its obvious lack of humor and marginalizing attitudes? Did they really think re-titling it would be enough when the rest of the piece, misspellings and all, was left alone? In what world does that make sense?

And that's when I realized it. Moviefone's writers exist in a parallel universe, a world where all of this information is accurate and where ladies are indeed seen as different from "actual people" because they have transcended physical reality. On this parallel Earth, women have ascended to higher planes and they don't watch action films or pay attention during movies because, dammit, they are busy flying through the universe, listening to the music of pulsars, racing sentient comets, and combating 5th-dimensional threats that we cannot even perceive. Amazing!

So really, Moviefone, the true issues here are why would you keep this amazing parallel reality a secret, and when can we all visit? It sounds insanely fun.

Or maybe you should actually, at the very least, fact-check and know what the hell you're talking about if you're going to be give geek women yet another reason to feel like they can't be taken seriously. Just my thoughts.


[Alan "Sizzler" Kistler is an actor and author living in New York City. His books include The Unofficial Batman Trivia Challenge and The Unofficial Spider-Man Trivia Challenge. He is a creator and host of the weekly podcast Crazy Sexy Geeks, available on iTunes. Alan has been recognized as a comic book historian and a Doctor Who historian by various publishers and media outlets. He thinks Isaac Asimov should be required reading in all schools. He can be found on Twitter: @SizzlerKistler. Archives of all his work can be found at http://AlanKistler.com]

Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!

Twitter activity