In a recent interview with Shane Black, he said Marvel corporate didn’t want his Iron Man 3 villain to be female. They wanted a male villain because they thought that would sell more toys. It’s been pointed out that there pretty much are no Aldrich Killian toys, so it’s not like female Allison Killian would have been a huge dent in profit. Look at these two MiniMates who might as well be a build-your-own-Waiting-For-Godot set. Who bought this?
It’s been argued many places, and more eloquently than I can, that we need more female toys for both our boys and girls to play with. If you don’t start empathizing with females, especially female heroes with agency, at an early age, you’re probably setting yourself up for trouble. But, the question is, if there will be more female action figures, what will there be less of? We can only make so many figures. I suggest what we have a glut of, and don’t really need, is the old man figure.
Can you imagine the tears Christmas morning after unwrapping this? “What? I thought you loved Star Wars!?”
Star Wars, in general, had way too many old dude figures and it only got worse with the prequels. Chancellors. Senators. Oooooo! Exciting. How about one with a lumpy potato head and a sunhat? Doesn’t that make it cooler? How many of these toys are in the clearance section gathering dust until an willfully-optimistic adult collector swoops them up with a grand investment strategy?
And speaking of Old Men in Bathrobes figures. Why not get your kid a wizard? Most of these characters are about being so powerful they don’t need to fight. It feels like a waste to make an action figure of someone who’s smart enough to avoid action.
How about these beauties from Spider-Man? A shirtless fat guy in a tenchcoat? Isn’t that something your kids are always drawing? And what kid on the playground isn’t pretending to be the fat overlord who pulls the strings from behind the scenes? Imagine being so out of touch with your inner child that you buy them a J Jonah Jameson that comes with an office. So your kids can act out having their soul crushed by being a cog in a soulless corporate machine years before it’s a reality!
And DC is just as bad. Jor El, Penguins. Comissioner Gordon. Zod. Lex. Vandal Savage. Important, boring old men. Imagine the excitement your child will have selecting which of Lex’s many hands should carry that briefcase to work. These are the characters they chose for their movie and animation franchises. Movies where you have superheroes and villains who can literally look like anything, and they went with old men in rumpled clothing or bleak S&M battle armour.
Dragon Ball Z has grandpa on vacation. Despicable Me has fat old scientist. Thomas the Tank Engine’s only human of note is a fat, bald, old man in a suit. He-Man’s dad looks like a creepy Burger King toy. And the wrestling figures often included old man managers like this elderly Ronald McDonald (sans makeup).
Why do they keep making these figures? I understand that the wise old man/mentor is a great storytelling trope. So is the old father that must be replaced by the next generation (like Horus kicking out Set to avenge willfully blind-eyed Osiris) But a)It could be a wise old woman as often as not, b) You could make them look cooler, like Yoda or Splinter, and c) It’s going to be hard for a child to pretend to be a repository of wisdom for the hero “It’s your father’s lightsabre… a more elegant weapon for a more civilized age. For years, the Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy. Before the dark times, before the Empire.” I bet that’s the normal voice of your kid, right? So, maybe let buy our kids more women figures and ask for more women in our TV shows and movies. I’d rather have an Iron Woman than another receding hairline fat guy in a grey business suit or something.