Bechdel Test Movie List

/bech·del test/ n.
1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

[[1]] The Avengers (2012) [imdb]

This movie passed 1 of 3 tests. It was entered by emmj on 2012-04-26 01:12:51.

Reviews

Comments

emmj said:
There are more than two named female characters; however there is no interaction between any of them.

Agent Maria Hill does give orders to her staff (some of whom are female), but there is certainly no conversation/dialogue.
Message posted on 2012-04-26 01:12:52
Victor said:
The film has two named female characters that I can recall: Pepper Potts and Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow). The two characters never speak to one another. A case could be made for Maria Hill being a third female characters, but I don't think that she was actually named in the film, and it doesn't matter anyway, because she never speaks to Pepper or Natasha.
Message posted on 2012-04-30 05:14:37
Ash said:
Hill is named in the film, but you're right, she doesn't talk to Natasha or Pepper.
Message posted on 2012-05-04 21:36:06
Miche said:
Maria Hill is named as Agent Hill, but not until almost the end of the movie.

She doesn't speak to either Black Widow or Pepper Potts.
Message posted on 2012-05-04 23:18:08
Emily Kane said:
If Maria Hill and Agent Romanov had JUST SAID SOMETHING to each other about the end of the world when they were standing in a circle...
Message posted on 2012-05-07 02:28:48
Erica said:
I counted six female speaking roles but none of them interacted with each other.

Maria Hill
Natasha Romanoff
Unnamed little Indian girl
Pepper Potts
Unnamed Councilwoman
Unnamed rescuee (kid from Growing Pains)

Anyone count any others?
Message posted on 2012-05-07 20:37:02
luminum said:
Not to nitpick, but Maria Hill IS named as Agent Hill and quite early in the film. Fury says her name in the beginning when he radios her telling her not to let Loki escape. Her name is repeated frequently thereafter when she is referenced or spoken to.

Doesn't change the rating, but still. Accuracy is important.
Message posted on 2012-05-08 04:28:48
AMol said:
Hill is named twice right at the start of the film. When Barton is escaping with Loki, Fury says her name over the walkie talkie, he also says it again after the escape is over.
Message posted on 2012-05-08 23:23:20
Victor said:
Weird, I actually specifically tried to listen to see if they would ever say her name in the film, and I never caught it. I guess I wasn't paying enough attention after all. =P
Message posted on 2012-05-09 06:57:19
Dan said:
It's strange that it doesn't pass considering Joss Whedon's penchant for strong female characters and such. You only have to look at Buffy and Firefly to see my point.
Message posted on 2012-05-11 20:12:51
Perfectly Idiomatic said:
I know it doesn't change the rating, but I thought I should point out that the two Indian women do have a brief exchange about sickness.
Message posted on 2012-05-12 09:33:19
Alex said:
If you want to get super-meta or technical or whatever you want to call it, Romanoff and Potts had conversations in "Iron Man 2," so they have a backstory, though no conversations in "The Avengers" movie itself.
Message posted on 2012-05-12 17:55:41
elisabeth said:
Erica, there were also female talking heads on the news channels. Not that those are significant characters, but if we're making a complete list they should be counted.
Message posted on 2012-05-14 03:16:33
Lily said:
I'd like to add the unnamed Indian woman to Erica's list. She and the little girl did share dialogue, and there could be a case for one sentence of it not being about a man (otherwise, it's about Banner or the girl's father).

No names, though, so we're still right back where we started.
Message posted on 2012-05-14 21:35:38
Abigail Brady said:
@Dan The difference there being that Buffy and Firefly were things created. Here, he's adapting source material that's already quite male-biased. Reportedly he had to fight to keep Romanova in, even. The only substantial part he cast (as opposed to inherited) was Smulders, as Hill.

Apparently there was a part for an older version of Margaret "Peggy" Carter from Captain America, which was cut. But that still is unlikely to have passed even test 2, as she'd probably have only been talking to Rogers.
Message posted on 2012-05-15 19:45:36
cl47 said:
Remember at the beginning of the film when Coulson calls Romanoff and says she's got to get "the big guy" and Romanoff assumed he was talking about Stark? If instead of Coulson it had been Romanoff who had retrieved Stark, this film likely would've passed this test (I can't imagine Whedon writing Romanoff and Potts discussing men in their small talk.) Potts, Hill, and especially Romanoff are strong female characters, the most feminist I've seen female superheroes on the big screen. How fascinating would it be then if Whedon purposely had Coulson retrieve Stark so as to intentionally fail this arbitrary checklist for determining gender bias in films.
Message posted on 2012-05-20 07:04:56
Meg said:
@cl47: That is a distinct possibility. And I think it's worth a mention that this test is not the be all and end all decider of whether a movie is anti-feminist. Movies like Avengers prove that. I honestly think Joss is physically incapable of not having amazingly strong female characters in his work, and this movie is no exception.
Message posted on 2012-05-23 06:50:14
Coroxn said:
@cl47
How can you possibly say that Pepper Potts is a strong female character?! Throughout Iron Man she is portrayed as having no agency, no desire to do anything other than help Tony, ultimately having No Life Whatsoever Outside The Male Lead! How is she anything more than a bland love interest?
Message posted on 2012-06-13 02:29:49
abresch said:
The fact that Pepper was a love interest does not make her a weak character. In Ironman2 she was quite capable of telling Stark off and managing the corporation on her own, despite everyone looking at her like she's just a jumped-up secretary.

It was a movie fundamentally about a male character, him being the title character even, and thus she was a secondary character and her relationship to him did matter. This doesn't make her weak, it just means it's a movie about a man.
Message posted on 2012-06-17 21:06:10
Lex Apostata said:
The fact that Marvel never bothered to give the Black Widow a feminine name pretty much disqualifies it right there. Natalie "Romanoff" would be, in Russian, Natalie Romanova.
Message posted on 2012-09-08 23:12:03
Lithmus said:
Now this is all accurate as of the theatrical release, and there is suppose to be a whole sections of Captain America (Steve Rogers) adjusting to the future it's going to be like 20 to 30 minutes long it's cut for obvious pacing reasons, I imagine it will go something like the Ultimate Avengers animated movie went. Like I said before in the Snow White review, there should be a fourth test that demands that at least a minute of time passes for total conversation time for it to count. BECAUSE technically as mentioned before various (VERY) side characters talk to one another. Which should then pass the test but only if they are named... so I guess never mind. Would that then fail if the total time equaled a minute between all conversations but they were combined from different women, would you need them all to come from one set of characters.

@cl47: nice comment.
Message posted on 2012-09-18 05:51:50
Gloves said:
@Lex Apostata:

Her name is "Natasha", not Natalie, and the point of her name not being in its feminine form is part of her giving up her entire life before SHIELD in order to metaphorically clean her ledger.
Message posted on 2012-10-15 21:42:53
Theo said:
A follow up re: Romanov vs. Romanova. That's nothing to do with sexism, it's just that in West we think of the Russian royal family as the Romanovs and there's no history of feminising a last name. If you search for Anastasia Romanov you'll see a lot of hits.
Message posted on 2012-11-20 08:36:43
K said:
It should be noted that Natasha Romanoff's name actually *is* Natalia Romanova. In the comics she is almost always referred to as Natalia, but it's part of a story/her past that the Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn't touched upon yet (it will in Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, which I'm extremely excited for). Again, just for accuracy's sake, she wasn't defeminized in her name for the sake of taking away her feminine qualities-- it's a long-standing attribute of the character that has been around for decades, and Whedon is just being accurate to the readers who have followed Black Widow for so long.
Message posted on 2013-01-23 00:04:50
CS said:
Though agent Hill isn't named until the end of the movie, it is also important to note that Hawkeye is only named as Barton a handful of times and is never refered to (within my memory) by his hero name.
Message posted on 2013-02-04 04:05:17
eowyn said:
Umm.. so I know I'm sort of nit-picking, but there's a misunderstand of Russian names here. Russian culture uses both patronymics and last names. A patronymic is the father's first name with -ova (female)or -off (male). These are used in formal address. So Natasha Romanova would mean Natasha daughter of Roman, which is a perfectly possible Russian first name.
However, Romanoff is also a last name. Last names in Russian work just like last names in English: the whole family shares one and they are passed down through generations-- like the Romanoff family (last csar's family--ie. Anastasia Nicholovna Romanoff). Last names are extremely formal and rarely used, but Russians do often use them when interacting with Americans, because they are much more understood by American culture than the patronymic system.
So.. I short, Romanoff could be a mistaken patronymic, but it could also be a perfectly workable last name. In which case, Marvel is borrowing a super-famous and obvious last name and using a form of address more familiar to Americans, but nothing is technically "wrong".
Message posted on 2013-03-31 18:41:37
luminum said:
Referring to Maria Hill's character as Hill or Agent Hill is using her name. Since when is your last name not your name?

Especially in a profession where use of last names and monikers is commonplace: Fury, Stark, Cap, Banner, Coulson, Barton, Romanoff, etc.
Message posted on 2013-03-31 20:22:02
Ark said:
While I agree with the rating, I find it absolutely fascinating that the strength of the women in this movie is argued because it did not pass. Black Widow, Agent Hill, and even Pepper Potts are some of the strongest female characters I have seen portrayed and it isn't because they pass or fail a gender bias test. It is because they have story and history. They have emotions, but they use them to work forward. To move towards their goals. We even see Natasha use her emotions to manipulate Loki. She leads him to believe he is in control and, in an instant, she turns the tables. It is moments like these that make me think there is more to a strong female character than just talking to another woman.
Message posted on 2013-04-08 05:58:43
S said:
I don't think Natasha should be considered a strong women because she is only used as the "manipulative vixen". Her only talent (I don't consider combat skills in an action movie as a talent) is to charm men into talking to her and then using that conversation to turn it against him. The underlying message is "dont talk to women and share your experiences and feelings, they have no sincerity and will manipulate you." I know its her job as a spy but her character is so empty. Most everything she says is a lie and she has no other substantial qualities.
Message posted on 2013-06-05 23:48:48
KL said:
S,

I don't think Natasha is an empty character, and I don't think she was portrayed as such in the Avengers. Despite being able to manipulate the emotions of certain characters to reach a goal (which I feel isn't a negative, if you consider her occupation), she is also shown to be competent AND intelligent, as well as having a wide range of emotions. She figures out Loki's scheme, returns Barton to his senses, and ultimately is the person responsible for saving New York, as she is the one to close the portal.

In terms of her manipulation... it's normally used on the job, with a distinct separation between her "on-the-job" spy persona and her "normal" persona. She is seen having moments of emotion and compassion very clearly in the scene when Barton wakes up. It is clear she is very sympathetic to what he went through, and that she has a special bond with Barton. She also shows a more compassionate side towards Dr. Selvig, when he comes out of Loki's brainwashing. As he looks over the side of the building, it's implied that she thinks he might be considering suicide, and she comforts him in kind. She is also shown as being fearful and terrified of the Hulk, but willing to set aside that fear in the wake of her emotional ties to Barton. And while she tells Loki that her relationship to Barton is based on owing him a debt, it's very clear that their relationship is much deeper than that.

So, no, I don't think her character perpetuates the idea that women can't be trusted. Natasha manipulates people AS HER JOB, which makes her a professional human being. Her chief manipulations occur three times during the film: 1) In her interrogation scene, where she is ON THE JOB 2) In her scene with Banner, where she is ON THE JOB and 3) in her scene with Loki, where she is ON THE JOB. The third one could be argued, seeing as she wasn't there on anybody's orders, but I don't doubt that Natasha considered finding out Loki's scheme to be one of her duties- just as Stark and Banner were trying to find the cube. Outside of these scenes, she is shown to be professional (when she meets Cap and Banner on the flight deck), emotional (her scene with Barton, her fear in the face of the Hulk), and likeable (when she jokes about Coulson's fanboy nature, when she tells Cap that her attempt to board one of the enemy's hovercraft is going to be "fun", etc).
Message posted on 2013-06-13 02:34:00
too_much_coffee said:
I think that Natasha's ability to manipulate is just another form of negotiation. It shows that she has a brain and isn't just eye candy or muscle
Message posted on 2013-11-08 00:14:35
Anna said:
Yeah, come on, Joss, pass the test in the sequel. Not difficult with Romanov, Hill and Scarlet Witch all definitely in the film.
Message posted on 2013-11-13 15:03:48

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