Gender Imbalance In Film: Women Under-Represented In Superhero Movies

Marvel’s action-adventures might continue to work wonders at the box office but new research shows the lack of female representation across the highest grossing superhero movies.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Top 10 Films,

Despite the appearance of many female superheroes including the upcoming Captain Marvel, there still exists a gender disparity between men and women in the genre. New research has found that 91% of screen time is dominated by male characters and that of 256 named characters in top ten highest-grossing superhero films, only 77 of them are female.

The data has also analysed the gender disparity in producers, directors, and movie poster billing position. Information has been gathered from a range of sources, including IMDb, International Business Times and Digital Spy and shows that, for example, men feature on screen for an average of almost 13 minutes compared to four minutes for women.

Battle of The Super Sexes breaks down the top ten highest-grossing superhero films, analysing the gender disparity in screen time, producers, directors, movie poster billing position and number of named characters.

Battle of The Super Sexes breaks down the top ten highest-grossing superhero films, analysing the gender disparity in screen time, producers, directors, movie poster billing position and number of named characters.

However, while only 77 of the named characters are female, of the 69 superheroes that appear in the top ten grossing superhero films the gender split is almost half and half (52% male, 48% female). And actresses appear to get more of the spotlight on posters with their names positioned higher than actors on average.

2018’s Black Panther was the best for female roles with a 16 to 10 split while 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises was the worst with 18 named characters of which only three are female.

Captain America: Civil War (from 2016) was one of the key culprits in the imbalance between screen time for males and females. The main male characters are on screen for a total of two hours and 30 minutes, whereas the main female characters feature for less than 30 minutes. There are no female directors in the top ten highest grossing superhero movies and of the 105 producers, 75% are men.

The data also reveals disparity in cast members’ salaries. When discussing the Iron Man series, Gwyneth Paltrow, who plays Pepper Potts, said it was “painful” to earn less than some of her male counterparts and that “nobody is worth the money that Robert Downey Jr. is worth”.

The increased attention to the gender pay gap saw extensive reporting of Scarlett Johansson’s salary for The Avengers sequels where she had parity with her male co-stars.

To find out each film’s individual key gender stats at Battle of The Super Sexes..

Amilia Totten
About the Author
Amilia Totten is a freelance writer, photographer and erstwhile time-waster. Her eclectic film favourites include the latest Hollywood blockbuster to European avant-garde and the joys of Bollywood.

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