Barefoot Avengers (a.k.a. "The Perilous Pumps of Pepper Potts)

I was a little grumpy getting dressed to go see The Avengers today. Inspired by the viral pics of Avenger eyes that populated Pinterest this week, I wanted to dress up a bit to see the movie my family's been waiting for since the tag on the first Ironman movie in 2007. But I don't have a Marvel favorite like the boys do. Donald wore his cool Tony Stark shirt with the glow-in-the-dark Arc Reactor and Dave, of course, Spiderman.

"Black Widow?" Dave suggested.

"Boring," I said, wondering if I could fashion sort of a Thor-ette fur cape; I always had a thing for Valkyries. "I wear black three times a week." With a sigh, I pulled out my red leather boots and Wonder Woman t-shirt, even though she's so DC.

I love Ironman. I want to be Tony Stark just as much as my son does... the cars, the gadgets, the architecture, the careless brilliance, the charm, and of course: the fun fun flying! But I confess I spent much of the first movie worrying about the perilous pumps of Pepper Potts. I could really relate to Stark's uber-competent administrative assistant, without whom he's nothing; I've been there many-a-time. But those fuck-me pumps really put her in grave danger. There she was in the third act, racing through the Arc Reactor lab, thinking on her feet, so physically and emotionally vulnerable on those spindly legs, running from danger. And then it blows up, and action moves back to Tony in his super-suit fighting with Obadaiah Stain in his super-duper suit, and all I can think about is: did Pepper's heels get caught in those metal grates? I am so relieved to see her again, when she appears to put band-aids on Tony's face.

I really loved when Natalia "Natasha" Alianovna Romanova, a.k.a. the Black Widow, showed up in the second movie. For one thing, she and Pepper never really competed, which is what Hollywood tends to make pretty and competent women do whenever they're in a room together, as if there is only room for One Per Movie or Man. (In real life, smart/gorgeous/amazing women adore and inspire and bond with each other.) The movie passed the Bechtel Test in the first scene Natsasha shows up, when Pepper is interviewing her about her mad skills with professional respect. And when she fought... she fought in flats! I know there's some sort of weird respect for superheroines who fight in high heels... but anyone who's ever broken a board (or a face) knows that your power comes from your balance, and the soles of the feet are as important as an open, sensing palm.

So when I saw Pepper in the opening scene of The Avengers, I nearly made a fool of myself by standing up and applauding when I saw her walking around the penthouse lab in cutoffs and...yes, bare feet! I don't know if there was any sort of "pregnant and..." implication here, but to me, a girl who spent shoeless summers running around fields and gravel creek beds and jumping on horses...this was a symbol of feminine power realized.

That is the ONLY spoiler you'll get in this review, and you'll be glad to be surprised by the rest. I came out of the movie not caring what I wore; the writing was so satisfying and layered I won't need to see another movie for a week. Or two. But I still wonder how to beg my Marvel-ous movie contemporaries (I was born in the same year as Joss Whedon so, it's almost like I know him) to introduce a new strong female character to the Avengers. Someone with total earth powers and the ability to heal and nurture life. Someone with a good costume.


entropical paradise said...

Interesting to me that just the night before, while watching the ultimately forgettable "Larry Crowne," we meet Julia Roberts' character first as a pair of high heels being set on the pavement just outside her car door as she steps into them. Did this set her up to be disliked by the women in the audience? Some of them?

Kristen Caven said...

Not this woman... I saw that as an appropriate symbol of her character, someone who intellectually towered over the people around her... and had a little trouble with that.

Kristen Caven said...

Oh here we go... except she needs better writing...