So while people were mourning the loss of Damian Wayne in DC-ville the internet (or as some call it: the real world) was exploding over something entirely different. On set photographs of the actress playing Mary Jane Watson were leaked. The actress in question, one Shailene Woodley, is seen here:
|Good thing she’s wearing a coat because the forecast said it would be cloudy with a 100% chance of ish-storm.|
I’m no expert – in like anything – but that looks like a human being walking around. As in: not someone in costume, with makeup on and certainly not someone drawn to look like an unattainable sex-goddess. Predictably, comment sections and forums were quickly filled with terrible comments regarding how unattractive Shailene is. One individual even proclaimed “Burn it with fire”. Yawn. Now that we know what to do with the spare fire we have sitting around, let’s take a step back and examine the reaction TO that reaction.
I think most of us can agree judging Woodley’s qualifications to play to role of MJ based on this one shot is fairly extreme but that’s what fanboys do. In the interests of full disclosure, I don’t like casting Woodley because she looks too young. Andrew Garfield has old man face and would naturally be attracted to Emma Stone who has old smoker voice. That’s just science. Science aside, I’m sure she can do a fine job. If all you care about is appearances – and lets not pretend they don’t matter at all – any quick google image search revealing a slew of shots like this:
|“Do I look confused/sexy enough for you now?”|
But fanboys don’t google (or admit they goolge since they know all things about all things) and it wouldn’t matter if Kate Upton were signed on to play MJ, SOMEONE would still complain. Look, none of this is to condone the level of venom directed at this one photograph (and an actual human being as opposed to the idea of Mary Jane) is inexcusable. I used Venom in the previous sentence without realizing it. That was awesome! Ok focus!
I’d like to focus on the response from the “adults” on the internet (those who write articles and don’t comment in fanboy filled forums) was an equally predictable chastising. One article self-righteously proclaimed in the headline fanboys who complain about Ms. Woodley’s appearance don’t deserve the film. Ok, that is just as dumb as these knee-jerk responses. The film could be terrible and then only terrible people would deserve it. More seriously, if you pay $12 then you deserve the movie as much as the next person. Here’s the thing that non-comic readers may never understand though: it is much more than $12; it is a lifetime investment of emotion and money. Since money is easier to rationalize than emotion (see what I did?) think of it this way: You ever get caught up in anything? Star Wars? Harry Potter? A wobbly ladder? Of course you have. But instead of a couple movies or books, imagine the thing you literally grew up with is Spider-Man. Marvel puts out several comics each week with Spider-Man in the title. If you were to ONLY get the main Spider-Man title you would still be spending roughly $12 a month to follow the imaginary lives of Peter Parker and, yes, Mary Jane Watson. Case in point: When Dan Slott (the writer of Amazing Spider-Man) killed off Peter Parker a few months ago he received death threats. Every single person that came through my shop talked about how stupefying that was. But every single one of them was also passionate about what happened to Peter Parker in their own ways. These are fans for life.
Now here’s the other thing, Mary Jane is so difficult to portray (by anyone regardless of appearance) because she is supposed to be the embodiment of the nerd dream. The good, girl next door…that you need to be talked into taking out…who turns out to be the jackpot. More importantly, SHE knows she is the jackpot and still falls for the boy/nerd next door when one of his three best qualities is not being in massive debt (just broke all the time). This. Is. Not. Real. Life.
|“Be safe, honey. I’ll just stay here and knit myself a tighter shirt.”|
MJ as wholesome dream girl eventually morphed into MJ as sexbot. This was largely due to portrayals such as the one on the left. While Mary Jane the accomplished businesswoman who owns New York’s hottest night clubs is far fetched, at least it isn’t this J Scott Campbell portrayal that reduces the character to sex appeal and subservience.
This next part may shock people but these portrayals don’t appeal to all nerds. For one, not all nerds read comics (ridiculous, but I’m biased) and even those that do have varying tastes. I have several customers who cite art like this as the reason they moved to more independent comics with more reasonable portrayals of human beings.
Bottom line is this: Almost everyone who has spoken out about this issue looks foolish. Obviously, hurling insults based on a photograph – any photograph – is juvenile but so is calling out an entire dedicated demographic based on a few anonymous internet comments.
Funny thing is, Shailene Woodley is the only one that comes out of all this looking good.