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While women are assuming increasingly prominent positions in blockbuster superhero and genre movies, that progress hasn’t necessarily translated to retail outlets. Tie-in products for many big-budget extravaganzas have been largely focused on male characters, be it Star Wars: The Force Awakens (and the lack of Rey toys) or Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron, both of which inspired social media hashtags — #WheresGamora and #WheresBlackWidow — to decry the absence of merchandise for their female leads. With more Marvel movies on the way, the studio’s head honcho is letting fans know that those past mistakes won’t be repeated this summer.
During an interview with Slashfilm conducted on the set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Kevin Feige directly addressed the #WheresBlackWidow controversy and offered his support for the outrage that drove the campaign.
“That was very frustrating for us, because … we see it from the other side,” he said. “We’re presented with the stuff that’s being made, and I don’t know if there’s an absolutely equal sampling, but Black Widow was all over that. Gamora was all over that stuff. What we don’t see is how much of it is in any given store. How easy is one piece of merchandise to find versus another piece of merchandise?”
Feige went on to say he and the rest of the Marvel team will be doing everything in their power to make sure that equality reigns on store shelves:
“We can’t have sway over … how many items of what they want to stock on a shelf, but when toy sets come over, or T-shirt designs come over, if they’re not represented properly or representative of the film … we send it back until it does.”
That desire to have female characters significantly represented in everything Marvel does also pertains to the movies themselves, as Feige revealed while talking about Guardians of the Galaxy’s follow-up:
“That was one of our big things we set out to do and was very important to James [Gunn, the director] … putting women at the forefront of the story.” In addition to Zoe Saldana’s Gamora, fans will also be seeing the return of Nebula (Karen Gillan) and the addition of Mantis (Pom Klementieff).
Fans will know soon enough if Feige’s dedication to getting Gamora merchandise into retailers was a success, since Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 arrives in theaters in just a few short months, on May 5. You can read more of what Feige had to say on the subject over at Slashfilm.
Watch the Guardians trailer: