Black Panther writer, Joe Robert Cole, thinks that 2008 Tony Stark would not fly in 2018, and he has a point.
While appearing at a “Superhero Science” panel at SXSW this past weekend, Cole suggested that the Trump administration and the #MeToo movement have altered audience expectations of their big screen heroes. He contended that misogyny, harassment, and negative attitudes toward women, which have either been ignored or accepted in Hollywood for decades, is no longer acceptable.
Cole was asked if superheroes’ values either reflect of shape culture, as reported by IndieWire:
“Think about where we are now, with this very vapid, unintelligent president and our world is crackling on the edges because of that. Think back to Tony Stark, him being douchey and being okay. If that character, Stark, was created in a movie today, I wonder if the response would be like, ‘Oh, it’s cool that he’s douchey and disrespectful to women … That’s fine.’ I think we’re at a different place. I think it’s a better place.”
Whether you agree or disagree with Cole’s assessment of Stark’s past isn’t the point. However, highlighting it as a point of reference is. Hollywood has long been a hostile place for women and people of color, but that’s changing. This weekend Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time represented the first time two black directors held the top two spots at the box office, according to CNN. And our heroes are at the forefront of this change.
Tony Stark isn’t the first (nor the worst) gender offender in mainstream movies, but his prominence in one of Hollywood’s major franchises makes him a fair target. Stark’s personality has shifted over the past decade, and he’s evolved — a positive sign.
Given the state of our culture today, it’s impossible to imagine any protagonist in a major, mainstream film acting otherwise going forward. Hollywood gets a lot of heat for its depiction of smoking, guns, violence, and racial and gender stereotypes (a lot of warranted), and studios now have both opportunity and license to respond. Change requires dialog, so it’s encouraging that up-and-coming writers like Cole — who define these characters — are taking an active role in the debate.
Do you think Hollywood’s attitudes toward women are finally changing? Let us know in the comments down below!