The demand for more toys for girls from the action fantasy and superhero genres has gotten louder and louder over the last year or so, to the point where many of us feel a level of vitriol towards Marvel and Disney that’s on par with that we usually reserve for Game of Thrones showrunners. But it looks like Marvel has finally heard us.
At the 2015 Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, Marvel unveiled their insanely wide-ranging merchandising plans for Civil War. Hasbro, Lego, Funko, Hot Wheels, Rubies, Mad Engine, C-Life, Jay Franco, Global Brand Group, Kellogg’s, Hallmark and American Greetings have all signed on for a part of the sales. Paul Gitter, senior VP of licensing for Marvel, said Civil War will build upon a lot of Age of Ultron products, but also include new characters. And, most excitingly for many of us, he said “there will also be a big focus on adult female apparel.”
After the initial rush of excitement natural at hearing that I, an adult female Marvel fan who wears and enjoys apparel, will be marketed to, there was a pretty heavy crash of disappointment. Because yes! It’s great that Marvel is finally recognizing the fact that humans of the non-male persuasion love their movies and have money to spend, but this plan still seems seriously lacking. For starters, again, I definitely want some Civil War merch targeted my way, but I also want to be able to buy my nieces some kick-ass Black Widow onesies. When is Marvel going to realize, YOUNG GIRLS LIKE SUPERHEROES TOO.
Secondly, it’s disheartening to see just how segregated this merchandising still is. As The Mary Sue learned, a new Disney UK job posting just went up for “a Digital Content Producer to work in the ‘Boys’ market, including franchises such as Marvel and StarWars [sic].” The job description repeats the phrase “‘Boys’ market” enough to make it very clear: BOYS AND GIRLS DON’T MIX. A developer who Disney hires “to work with our most exciting franchises in the ‘Boys’ market, including Marvel and StarWars” is doing just that. They are not making toys; they are making BOY toys. And once in a while some other department will make something pink or release a line of Gamora play makeup and call it a girls’ toy. But they still feel they need to erase Black Widow’s existence to get boys to play with the Quinjet. They still insist on these two things being entirely separate. Which is just freaking stupid. And insulting.