‘Buffy’ Star Criticizes Marvel Fans For “Backwards Way of Thinking” Towards Female Superhero Movies

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Peter Quill/Star Lord (Chris Pratt) Looking Confused

Credit: Marvel Studios

Now that Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997) star Sarah Michelle Gellar is back on the scene promoting her brand-new Paramount+ series Wolf Pack (2023), it seems she has a lot to say about one of the most popular franchises in the industry — the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Gellar was once a world-popular female superhero, having starred in Buffy the Vampire Slayer for six years, a character who was adored by both male and female audiences. Perhaps not a superhero in the more traditional sense, but if she were to exist within the MCU, she’d be considered one without question.

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Credit: 20th Century Studios

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In the 20 years that have passed since the show ended, it has amassed a huge cult following, and Gellar has become synonymous with Buffy Summers in the same way Hugh Jackman is with Logan/Wolverine, or Michelle Pfeiffer is with Selena Kyle/Catwoman. However, she now thinks there’s a problem with modern audiences where female-led superhero films are concerned.

In an interview with The Guardian, the Buffy star talked about how Marvel’s female-led superhero films aren’t as “accepted” by audiences as male-dominated ones. Here’s what she said:

“Genre is where women can really succeed and hold an audience. Every time a Marvel movie tries to do a female cast, it just gets torn apart… Unfortunately, audiences weren’t as accepting. There’s still this mentality of ‘the male superhero’, this very backwards way of thinking.”

So, it would seem that Gellar is blaming audiences for Marvel’s less successful female-led superhero films. But this is only true because of reasons that have nothing to do with the fact they have female leads.

Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Credit: 20th Century Studios

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As we all know, it’s the quality of some of these films and shows the female superheroes are in that’s the problem. Thor: Love and Thunder (2022), which introduces Jane Foster/Mighty Thor (Natalie Portman), made a fortune at the box office, but was torn apart by fans and critics as it was widely considered a bad film for many reasons.

Meanwhile, Disney+ series She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (2022) is also widely considered one of the worst things to have emerged from the MCU, and isn’t expected to get a second season, yet anyone who dares to criticize it is often branded a “misogynist”. Even some of the creators and the stars themselves have attacked fans for not liking the show.

Tatiana Maslany as She-Hulk roaring in She-Hulk Attorney at Law
Credit: Marvel Studios

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And then there’s Black Widow (2021), which, despite not being that bad and turning in a decent profit at the box office, was heavily criticized for feeling rather redundant, with many feeling that it should have been part of Phase One instead of Phase Four, which is no surprise given that it revolves around Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), who had previously been killed off in Avengers: Endgame (2019).

But never mind the fact that fans instantly fell in love with female newcomer Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh).

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow
Credit: Marvel Studios

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And last but not least where Marvel is concerned, there’s Captain Marvel (2019), a film that is painfully dull, generic, and formulaic. On top of that, Larson just isn’t all that engaging in the lead role as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel.

Whether or not Gellar is leaning towards male audiences being the problem — which is what she appears to be suggesting — is unclear, but either way, her comments echo Marvel’s overtly defensive attitude when it comes to the negative criticism of some of their content.

Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova
Credit: Marvel Studios

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There’s no denying that the members of the cast and crew for some of these projects are often the target of online abuse from actual sexist trolls, but this has nothing to do with the fact that some of these projects have been critical and financial disappointments.

If a film looks bad, you won’t attract the audience you want. Or if looks great and turns out to be bad, word of mouth will spread like wildfire. It’s that simple.

Brie Larson as Captain Marvel
Credit: Marvel Studios

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Outside the MCU, there are plenty of successful female-led superhero films that have been “accepted”, with DC’s Wonder Woman (2017) being one of the more recent examples. That film grossed over $822 million worldwide against a budget of $120–150 million.

Its sequel Wonder Woman 1984 (2020), however, failed to break even, turning in $169.6 million worldwide against a $200 million budget, which had nothing to do with the fact it’s a female-led film, as audiences had already “accepted” Gal Gadot and her on-screen persona in the first one.

Gellar has a point, though, of course, in that female-led Marvel films aren’t as accepted on the screen as male-dominated ones are, but this is a problem Marvel needs to fix — not audiences.

Gal Gadot withdrawing her sword in Wonder Woman
Credit: Warner Bros.

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Do you agree with Sarah Michelle Gellar, or do you think Marvel needs to create better stories with female leads at the center? Let us know in the comments down below!

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