Lex's Corner / Movies / Random / Television / What If

Marvelous Women: What If Jane Foster Was Written Better?

Greetings, lovers of the Zoo. As it is pretty obvious that I’m back from my mini-hiatus, I wanted to start October off with a bang. And said bang includes returning to my roots and what I know best:

Marvel.

For two years, many of you have come to know me as a Marvel stan—which I am perfectly okay with. What I’m not okay with is the fact that people assume that that means that I cannot and occasionally, should not, be critical of Marvel.

That is incorrect and if you think this, you are wrong.

You really don’t.

While I may be a Marvel stan, do not mistake my admiration for blind, hero-worship (yes, I did say that in my best Volstagg voice). I do love them, dearly, and that love is what prompts me to be critical.

And speaking of being critical…we GOTTA talk about Marvel and its relationship with women.

“Ruh roh” is right.

Let me start off by saying that Marvel’s made a fair amount of strides towards incorporating more women into their universe. While I still dislike Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, the core cast of that show features three prominent women (four if you count Bobbi) and two of them are of color (Asian/Asian-American) which is HUGE because a lot of times, these superhero related teams can barely meet a 2:1 ratio in terms of women to men talk less a 1:1 ratio.

Yes, all that shade is for you, Avengers squad. Your 1:5 ratio is glaringly atrocious.

What’s more is that Jessica Jones is getting her own show soon, Misty Knight will be making her entrance in Luke Cage’s show, and we have a Captain Marvel movie on its way to theaters in 2018 (I’m still mad it got pushed back though). Add all of this to the incorporation of Daredevil’s great female characters into the MCU (shout-out to Claire, Karen, and Vanessa) and the wild success that Peggy Carter is enjoying right now and I’d say the Marvel is doing well.

But they could be doing better.

Much better.

I know what you’re thinking: “How, sway? How could they be doing better?

My answer to that is simple: Their female MOVIE characters need some work.

A lot of work.

The great thing about TV is that it allows you to go into much greater detail character-wise versus movies. An apt comparison would be to say that TV shows function as novels, whereas movies function as short stories. You don’t have a lot of time to spend with characters in movies (unless you have the unique, dual privilege and burden of being a franchise) and usually some aspect of the movie—be it plot, character, or whatever else—suffers because of it. And often times, the people who do the most suffering character-wise in these Marvel movies are in fact the women.

MCU Women MoviesI saw it in The Avengers with Black Widow being the least developed character in the film. I saw this in Guardians of the Galaxy with Gamora being the least developed character in the film. I saw this in Iron Man 3 with Maya Hansen being the least developed character in the film and the first one to be offered up to the chopping block and tossed away. And I have consistently seen this with Maria Hill across all of the movies she has appeared in (I don’t watch AOS, so I can’t speak on that) despite the fact that canon has her being the most important S.H.I.E.L.D. operative ever after Nick Fury.

There are way more examples, but you catch my drift.

And so with long ass intro aside, I have finally arrived at what I wanted to do today:

I want to talk about how kick-ass Jane Foster would be if Marvel wrote her better.

…Pretty much.

I can already hear the collective, mental groaning and believe me when I say that I am groaning right along with you. The Thor movies have had a lot of issues over these past few years (a lot of issues which I will address in a future article), but my biggest issue with them BOTH has been Jane Foster. She is, by far, the franchise’s weakest link. But that is of no fault of her own.

The fault lies in bad writing.

Because, let’s be real. If Natalie Portman can’t make a character even remotely endearing, that mean something’s afoot in the writer’s room.

Still, I’ve got my qualms with her. For starters, for a woman who is supposed to be an über-smart, thirty-something year old scientist (an overdone trope, by the way, as writers usually think this will allow to them get away with zero to no characterization whatsoever), she has the emotional IQ of a 12 year-old girl (no disrespect to twelve-year-old girls, of course). Nothing makes that more obvious than her extremely deep-seated and off-putting need to find a dude—Thor—that she knew for 1.5 day (I’m very serious about that. I did the math) after the events of Thor. In fact, it is this very off-putting need that leads her stick her hand in the forbidden, glowing red PlayStation in Thor: The Dark World that just so happens to house the Aether—one of the most powerful forces in the entire universe.

Nevermind that even if she didn’t know what was going to happen—which, you know, she didn’t—the Aether happened to be housed between TWO GIANT FLOATING SLABS OF ROCK that could have quite frankly cost her an arm.

But, nah. It’s okay. It would be worth it for Thor. Apparently.

I ask myself this every day, to be quite honest.

So as you can see, that movie version of Jane Foster is my LEAST favorite version of Jane Foster. Ever.

Conversely, the best version—my favorite version—and the version that Marvel should have incorporated into the Thor movies is Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ version of Jane Foster.

My obvious bitterness aside at the cancellation of EMH in favor of the wildly inferior Avengers Assemble, EMH’s rendition of Jane Foster is peak Marvel doing the damn thing. You see, in EMH, Jane is an EMT, which is a little different than her previous history of being a nurse and wildly different than her role as an astrophysicist in Thor.

Revisiting that history, Jane was canonically a nurse for quite some time. And while there is nothing wrong with being one, as they are always on the front-lines of health crises, Marvel didn’t really do anything with her, besides interacting with Dr. Donald Blake (Thor’s canonical alter ego) and being saved by Thor (a lot) This was obviously a missed opportunity, but Marvel made up for it in EMH when she was shifted to the role of EMT.

Jane as an EMT was great. Compared to her historically static role, Jane was so much more dynamic because of this big change because it allowed her to throw herself in potentially more adrenaline-pumping situations that she might not have done and/or might not have been able to do as a nurse. All in the name of helping people.

The best example of this is the fourth and first episodes of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes titled “Thor the Mighty” and “Breakout: Part 1”, which I’ll briefly recap:

Thor the Mighty

In Thor the Mighty, Thor and Jane first meet when The Wrecking Crew is f*cking up sh*t in New York. This causes an alert to go out and Jane turns out to be the first responder. Upon her arrival, she sees a whole bunch of superpower-ed wreckage happening but proceeds to help fallen civilians and police officers anyways, which is notable since her chicken co-worker opted out of doing so.

Still her bravery almost gets her killed by Thunderball, but Thor swoops in at the last minute to save her. She would later thank him and introduce herself before Thor flew away to meet up with Heimdall.

Breakout Part 1:

In Breakout Part 1, Thor is doing his whole “I’m all about protecting Midgard” thing until he is approached by Balder about Odin being in Odinsleep (when doesn’t that happen, but okay) and needing Thor to come back to Asgard. Thor turns him down because he’s searching for a higher purpose and etc.

While this is going on, we see Jane rushing out to help people who have been involved in a car accident. Once again, her bravery and courage threaten to bite her in the ass when a speeding car almost takes her out. Like clockwork, Thor once again swoops in to save her. While thankful, she straight up asks old blonde fridge if he’s following her but Thor replies in a way that only Thor can (and could only be attractive if Thor was doing it, but again, I digress):

“You intrigue me. Mortal lives, they are so fragile, yet you do not seem to accept that.” – Thor
“Would you?” – Jane
“Nay.” – Thor

And that’s just two episodes. There’re way more good solo Jane moments and Jane/Thor moments in EMH, but in the interest of time and space, that’s all I’ll cover.

Expounding on these two episodes, however, and the type of character that Jane is introduced right-out-the-gate as, it is hard not to see why Thor would not be in love with this version of Jane.

Ah. It was love at first show of courage.

This version of Jane is a deeply empathetic person who is always game for helping others, even if it is to the detriment of her own health and well-being. This empathy drives her into certain situations that might cause people to view her as reckless, but in all actuality, she is just really brave and selfless and Thor picks up on that right away, being that it is unusual for humans to be so in his eyes (I don’t blame him. Humans are the wooooorsssst).

And that’s not all. In later episodes, Jane ends up flexing her empathetic and multifaceted character through her willingness to understand Thor’s otherworldly problems and help him sort through them, causing him to feel even more deeply for her and us as an audience—me especially—to lament the fact that THIS Jane is not what we end up seeing in the MCU.

Which brings me to the point I wanted to address to begin with: how Jane should have been written in the MCU.

In Thor

Well, for starters, I would have made her an EMT and left Eric as the premier scientist (not that he’s not already the premier scientist, but I’ll address that in a later article) and Darcy as his assistant/mentee and a friend to Jane.

Because of this character shift, Eric and Darcy would be the ones to hit him with the science Humvee and then call in an ambulance, bringing Jane into the story. After getting the needed details and chiding Darcy about tasing Thor, Jane would eventually take Thor back to the hospital and go about the rest of her evening.

Thor_Jane_townThe next day, after realizing that Thor came out of the storm, they’d come back to the hospital to look for him and would find Jane working there (as she would be conveniently contracted with the hospital). They’d inquire about him for science and Jane would suspiciously point them in his direction. Eventually, they would discover that he is missing and go in search for him, with Jane tagging along to help.

After the obligatory scenes where Thor is hit by the science Humvee, Thor is given civilian clothes, Eric and Darcy’s research is confiscated by S.H.I.E.L.D , Thor attempts to get his hammer back and fails, and Jane shows up after being called by Darcy and frees Thor by claiming him as her ex-husband, I’d probably still keep the whole “gazing at the stars” bit that Thor and Jane ended up having. That said, I’d change the framing and have the talk be prompted by having Jane ask Thor about his story and the importance of the hammer that he got arrested for, to which she would get his long-winded, Nine Realms answer.

They would eventually bond on their mutual love for science and the otherworldly (maybe have some reference to Jane initially wanting to do what Erik does because of her dad, but not having the money or something, etc, etc) and Jane would even talk Thor through some of his family’s dysfunction.

After such, the Destroyer would eventually make its appearance after the Warriors Three touched down. I’d have Jane spring to action like the EMT that she is and have Thor watch in awe, especially as he himself is technically unable to assist due to being de-powered. Whilst noticing Thor’s hesitation, Jane would urge him and Erik and Darcy to help evacuate the buildings nearby (with the Warrior’s three doing sh*t in the background). This would probably be Thor’s “I may be in love moment”.

After being informed that the Destroyer is most likely Loki’s doing, Thor would make the very rash decision of trying to talk the Destroyer down. As she is wrapping up someone’s wound, Jane would see this and attempt to go after him. Erik would hold her back.

Thor would confront the Destroyer (and Loki) and ask that that the humans be spared in exchange for himself. In pure “SIKE!” fashion, the Destroyer would deliver his pimp slap of death and Jane would rush towards Thor and desperately attempt to treat him before he would later die in her arms.

I probably shouldn’t have laughed at this, but I did. I’m not sorry.

And you know, the rest is history really. Thor would prove to be worthy. He’d say something about hoping he and Jane’s paths cross again (I always thought that kiss was…off? So there would be no kiss here) and then he’d peace out to go beat the sh*t out of Loki.

In The Avengers

Now, since this was merely a team-up movie and most secondary characters simply had cameos, this wouldn’t have been that hard to fix.

Her original 1.5 second cameo.

During the Battle of New York, in the scene where Black Widow and Hawkeye are pulling people out of burning buses, I would have literally had Jane roll up in an ambulance truck (I’d probably have some throwaway reference to her moving to NY in the earlier scene between Thor and Coulson, due to her growing restless in Puente Antiguo) ready to help. If I wanted it to be even more on the nose than that, I probably would have added:

“Jane Foster, I’m presuming?” – Black Widow

“That’s me. You one of Thor’s friends?” – Jane

“…You could say that.” – Black Widow

*Both of them stare at the sky where Thor is doing action sh*t*

“Tell him I said “Hey”. – Jane

And then she’d get back to work.

In Thor: The Dark World

This one, like The Avengers, would also have been easy to fix. To elaborate, if the movie HAD to take place in London, I’d have Jane visiting a recently committed Erik and a super frantic Darcy out of deep concern for them. However, instead of Jane being the one who was obtuse enough to stick her hand in the Playstation of Doom, I’d simply have Darcy doing it. It makes way more sense for several reasons:

1. As Erik would be committed after the events of The Avengers, it would make sense for Darcy—Erik’s student and mentee—to go to great lengths to find Thor in order to prove that Erik wasn’t crazy/making sh*t up.

2. Jane mouthing off to Odin while in Asgard never made sense to me. Darcy mouthing off to Odin while in Asgard makes complete sense to me.

3. Jane would be in the story, but instead of being the strict love interest/damsel-in-distress that literally throws herself into distress, she’d be filling a role of concerned daughter figure (re: Erik), concerned friend ( re: Darcy) and three-dimensional person first and then love interest second.

4. That would get rid of this “intern’s intern” bullsh*t that didn’t have any place in the movie.

Annnnnnnd that’s how I would have written Jane.

Granted, Thor: The Dark World still would have had a lackluster villain to deal with/fix, but that’s none of my business.

In closing, I want y’all to know that this is not me condemning Marvel and telling them to kick rocks. This is me calling them out because of respect and admiration and asking them to turn their 2D female characters into badass 3D ones. They have already done so in their TV projects, so I know they have it in them.

Don’t forget to like our page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Images From: Tumblr, QuickMeme, Marvel, Wikipedia, Marvelcinematicuniverse.wikia.com, Comicvine.com, Nydailynews.com, Frost Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Marvelmovies.com, Thevoid.uk
_________________________

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “Marvelous Women: What If Jane Foster Was Written Better?

  1. Yeah, Marvel has gotten better and better (if you think Jane Foster is bad, Betty Ross is even worse), but still has a long way to go. In Jane’s defence though: She doesn’t deliberately stick her arm in the aether, she stumbles and ends up too close because of this. But yeah, there are a myriad problems with the way she is portrayed (I wish they had scratched Selvig out of the story, he constantly seems to get the screen-time which should be used on her).

    Though I admit, I felt that EMH Jane Foster was ridiculous too. For one while she was introduced as courageous EMT, we only got to see her moping over Thor in this one, too. Plus, I feel that the portrayal of the EMT who storms into danger is a little bit ridiculous. This is not the job of an EMT, they are not rescue workers, that is a different skill set.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment!

      And oh I agree with you. I’ve seen some of Marvel’s older stuff and have had no choice but to cringe in reply (best example? Susan Storm). Betty definitely has it way rougher and I hope to address that at some point too.

      Jane and the Aether: Really? I missed that. Well, if that’s the case, *now* it makes sense lol.

      Jane and Selvig: THANK YOU. I’ve been saying that I don’t know why both of them exist together, because Selvig is often times doing the science shit that Jane should be doing??? Idk. I’ve always found it weird and redundant.

      EMH Jane: Oh she was def annoying at some points too, my nostalgia just resisted seeing it that way. The moping over Thor was present too (which unfortunately seems to be a thing for all iterations of her character, le sigh).

      I didn’t know about the EMT/Rescue Workers distinction. Thank you for pointing that out.

      Like

      • I actually ended up writing a small rant about how insulting it is that Jane needs someone who holds her hand when she does science…Bruce and Tony are able to do it on their own. (Not to mention warning off her potential boyfriend, I don’t care if Selvig feels protective about her, she is a grown woman and he is not her father. And even if he were he had no right).

        Liked by 1 person

      • I would love to read your piece on it (drop a link please!) because I agree 100%. I think that shit was exceedingly aggravating because it just infantizes her basically, and that is amplified by the haphazard way the wrote her emotionally.

        Ugh.

        It’s a mess.

        And yeah, she is grown as hell. She doesn’t need him there. That was too much.

        Like

  2. It’s deeply unfortunate that when people talk about Jane deserving ‘better writing’ they talk about erasing her status as a scientist when we have so little representation of women in STEM fields.

    I have to say I disagree with a lot of what this article says – but then, I did find Jane endearing and she is one of my favorite MCU characters – but I’m just going to focus on Jane searching for Thor after the first movie. She doesn’t search for him because of her ‘extremely deep-seated and off-putting need to find a dude,’ but because he is LITERAL PROOF that her scientific theories – her life’s work as she says herself – are right.There was affection and the possibility of romance there, absolutely, but Jane is all about her research/life’s work. She pretty much says and shows that throughout the whole first movie. She doesn’t even pay that much attention to Thor at first; she only goes back to the hospital for him because if he did appear in that atmospheric anomaly she was chasing, again: proof! This character is all about science. She tries to crawl into the SHIELD’s van – to her, a shady government organization that she’s likely never heard of and doesn’t know what they might do to her – when they take her equipment, and when she helps Thor break into SHIELD, it’s to get back that same equipment.

    In The Dark World, she’s frustrated, and it seems like her work is going in a different direction than she wanted, and yes, she spent some time moping about both Thor and her work – which are tied together emotionally for her. And if Jane moping is so terrible, why doesn’t anyone complain about how Thor was moping? He was pining just as much, if not more, than Jane. And Jane’s the one that was trying to move on! She was on a date with someone else!

    She also doesn’t stick her hand in the Aether – if you watch the clip again, you’ll notice she does make a motion towards it, but stops herself. She was actually pulling away when the Aether attacked her. And how much more badass can you get than using equipment built for an entirely different purpose to harness the crazy physics-breaking effects of the Convergence to help save the universe?

    This got longer than I intended it to, but like I said, she is one of my favorite MCU characters. It’s terribly sad when she gets reduced to The Love Interest – which she is, but she’s also a scientist, she’s brilliant, she’s awkward and a bit socially inept, she’s kind, and yes, empathetic. She’s passionate about her work, she’s driven and determined, but suffers through setbacks just like the rest of us; she’s also prone to recklessness (driving into a storm for data anyone? Helping a stranger break into a shady government facility?) and man, her curiosity and wonder about the universe – enter the number one reason why I love her.

    And look, there I go again! Clearly, I get a little passionate about her!

    You can like or dislike these movies or these characters. I’m not saying that you can’t. We can’t always connect to every character, and we all have our tastes and interests, but I wouldn’t put it down to Bad Writing or two dimensional characterization. Especially with Jane who I clearly feel has a wealth of characterization.

    I’d suggest instead of ‘Better Writing’ – which is always a nebulous category anyway – that we get more screen time for all the MCU ladies because that will help us delve even further into the characters as they’re already established in this universe.

    Like

    • Never apologize for being passionate about something. I wouldn’t have wrote this much if I wasn’t passionate about this or didn’t care.

      Addressing some of your points:

      – I do think that Jane being in a STEM profession is super important, but as Swanpride pointed out earlier, her function as a STEM person is completely nullified/rendered redundant by Selvig’s presence. Yeah, in the second movie, her tech ends up saving in the day, but Selvig steals most of that thunder by literally telling everyone and anyone about the Convergence throughout the entire movie.

      – Understand that me addressing Jane’s moping about Thor isn’t me condemning the romance or her right to have feelings and etc. It’s more about the looong, canonical history of that being *all* that her character is.

      Thor is an issue, of course (as most of that movie was to be completely honest), but I was focusing on Jane here.

      – Addressing the STEM thing again, I don’t hate that they made her a scientist. My issue lies in the fact that writers will usually throw female characters into these crucial positions and then completely drop the ball on their characterization, making them fall flat (it’s a trope at this point). One example that comes to mind is the female South Korean scientist in Age of Ultron.

      – A lot of the science points that you mentioned are great and I never considered them in that way. And that’s the problem really. A lot of that doesn’t come across in these movies (I’m saying that I’m not the only one who thinks that Jane’s character was rendered poorly). I don’t know if that has to do with the history of her character or the way she’s portrayed.

      All I know is that there are certain points in this film that come across as incompatible with the scientist character that they’re trying to portray her as (re: Arguing with Asgardian scientists and doctors over what you to call the soul forge; mouthing off to Odin)

      – “Better Writing” is a bit ambiguous but is catchier than saying better characterization, lol.

      In all seriousness, screen time is not enough. A character can get plenty of screen time but it will mean nothing at the end of the day if that time is wasted/not utilized correctly. And that’s what I’m really arguing for.

      Loki and Jane had waaaay more screen time then even the title character but I’d argue that only one of those characters (Loki) got great characterization (which I think was at the expense of everyone else in the movie and convinces me more and more every day that Loki’s suffering from over-exposure at this point).

      I hope got to all your points. Let me know if I didn’t.

      Like

      • Well, this got long again. 😀

        Why is Jane completely nullified/rendered redundant and Selvig isn’t? I don’t agree that There Can Only Be One. By that logic, Sam would be redundant since Steve is already a soldier. By that logic, we wouldn’t need Iron Patriot since we already have Iron Man. But they have different impact on the plot, you say? So do Jane and Selvig. Their research does closely correlate, but that’s one of the reasons it makes sense that they’re both there. Movies/TV would often have you believe in the Lone Wolf scientist when that really isn’t the case in the science community. There is a lot of collaboration. Get stuck? See what a colleague thinks. It’s basically what their relationship in both movies is – she calls him out in the first one to take a look at her research/the atmospheric anomalies and he calls her to London in the second for his research. Granted, I suspect that sort of collaboration/data sharing in largely theoretical fields doesn’t always require in-person visits, but movies!

        If I remember correctly, it’s Selvig’s tech she repurposes in TDW, but I could be wrong on that.

        A lot of Selvig’s ‘literally telling everyone and anyone’ is a. played for laughs (even though he’s right) and b. by the time we actually get to him talking about the convergence, not only is it more of an exposition scene than anything that drives the plot forward, a lot of it is old information. Jane’s already had this conversation with Thor in Asgard. And given that she later becomes the foremost scientist in her field in AOU, I don’t think Selvig’s stolen her thunder at all.

        I mentioned the moping because it is a common criticism I see regarding Jane’s character (usually without a word about Thor’s similar emotional state) and you claimed ‘she has the emotional IQ of a 12 year-old-girl’ for wanting to find him again. I suppose I connected the two in my mind.

        I’m confused about this trope re: ‘writers will usually throw female characters into these crucial positions and then drop the ball on their characterization,’ I can’t speak much about Helen Cho’s characterization as I’ve only see AOU once, but clearly I think Jane is more nuanced than many people give her credit for, so could you explain how you think they dropped the ball? You mention the scenes (Odin/Soul Forge) you considered incompatible with ‘the scientist character they’re trying to portray her as,’ Do you think it’s because that’s not how a scientist acts? Or because that’s not how Jane – based on her MCU characterization thus far – would act? Could you clarify that?

        Is it considered ‘mouthing off’ when she’s basically calling him out for being rude to her? I totally think it’s something MCU Jane would DEFINITELY do. She takes Thor to task when he smashed the coffee mug in the first movie, she gets in Coulson’s face when he’s taking her equipment, she punches Loki after he’s hurt someone she loves and attacked her planet. Odin comes in and is incredibly rude to her – and I’ve seen people argue that calling him out was disrespectful because he’s a king. Which she didn’t know at the time, and even then, he equates her with a goat! And treats her as if she’s not there! I don’t care if he’s the King of Asgard, that’s awful and uncalled for and she was perfectly in the right to say HOW DARE YOU? And I think even if she knew he was King, she’d call him out. Actually, she totally would – consider re: Coulson, a government agent who could possibly jeopardize Jane’s current/future funding (funding for fields like Jane’s is largely government based). At their initial meeting, in Jane’s eyes, he likely has more power over her future than Odin does. And she still got in his face!

        (Plus, if nobody said Odin was out of line there, it’d imply that the narrative supports his viewpoint which. Gross on a whole slew of levels. The throwaway lines with unfortunate implications that the narrative implicitly supports by letting them slide is one of the MCU’s big flaws IMO)

        Back to the Odin thing- Jane defends herself. Is that not what a scientist would do? Is that not what she would do? And, some of this is a little more extrapolation based on real world situations (and a topic that Portman herself touched on in one or two interviews), but as a woman in STEM – in a highly male dominated STEM field – Jane’s probably faced a fair amount of discrimination in her career. Likely in her schooling, too. She’s probably been passed over for grants. It’s likely she’s had to fight for every scrap of funding and had to learn to stand up for herself/her work.
        And there is evidence in the films to support this, though if you’re not familiar with the field, it’s easily missed. The only applicant for her internship isn’t even studying astrophysics, she built most of her equipment herself – which, the highly specialized stuff, sure absolutely, but those specific pieces of instrumentation wouldn’t qualify as ‘most,’ and the rest could be purchased with grant money (implying that she doesn’t have much) and it doesn’t seem like anyone takes her theories seriously – even her mentor is highly skeptical! For someone to have made it that far – with three degrees! – how can she be anything but the type of person who sticks up for herself?

        Also, interpretation/perception here, but I saw Selvig as a representative of the attitude of larger science field/how women are often treated in STEM fields/how the lay person views women in stem. He might not question her capabilities like others probably do, but he does question her theories and he does often patronize her – not always meaning to, true, but that’s arguably worse.

        Now onto the soul forge thing. I’m not sure how this is anything less than Jane being a scientist? She’s curious, she’s asking questions! Exactly what a scientist – and especially one as curious as Jane – would do. But I interpreted it as less arguing about the name and more:

        Jane: oh hey, I think I recognize this! Is it [terminology Jane, as an earth scientist, would be familiar with]?
        Eir (dismissively, as if Jane doesn’t know what she’s talking about): No, it’s [Asgardian terminology she’s not familiar with].
        Jane: Okay, well, does it do xyz?
        At this point, if Eir had shown irritation/more dismissiveness instead of surprise, I might have interpreted it a little differently. But she does look at Jane with surprise, and she does say yes. Jane, who is dismissed as unfit for Asgard and is equated with livestock only minutes later, recognizes an advanced alien technology in connection to something she’s familiar with.
        Jane: Then it is a quantum field generator! I was right!

        and if you’re saying arguing about the name isn’t something scientists would do – I honestly can’t tell why this is incompatible with ‘the scientist character’ because based on a lot of the stuff I mentioned earlier about Jane’s actions in the movies and on the people I know in STEM fields, based on people I work with, even based on me: LOL!

        I am well aware that you aren’t the only one to have this – or a similar – opinion about Jane. I don’t usually engage, but you seem like you’re open to discourse, so here we are! I obviously disagree, but I also disagree that it doesn’t come across in the movies. I do wonder if because Jane herself isn’t a flashy character (and her science isn’t flashy either- which leads to some people saying she doesn’t do enough science. (Baffles me entirely. Science is a lot of data gathering, science is a lot of using that data to test theories (which in a theoretical field of study does tend to run toward building computer models and running simulations before doing Live Testing. Science is actually really boring a lot of the time (but in an amazing way) and most theoretical stuff isn’t flashy at all) that a lot of her characterization goes overlooked. And I’m even speaking from personal experience! I came away liking Jane the first time I saw it, true, but it definitely wasn’t at all near the same level as I do now. I thought she was cute, I thought her relationship with Thor was sweet – if rushed – but I ultimately came away more interested in the Asgard portion of the film than in Jane. But on rewatches and talking with other people about her character and actually realizing how much I’d missed on the first few viewings – and then rewatching it and seeing all the evidence – makes me wonder how much other people missed too.

        Off topic, but this is actually a question I have across the board regarding media – how much do our personal experiences/familiarity with how certain social structures work influence how we interpret films/tv/characters? Do any of us ever really see the same movie? I think about this a lot.

        I find ‘bad characterization’ to be as nebulous a term as ‘bad writing.’ What does it mean to you? To me, bad characterization is when a character directly contradicts what’s established for their character (I covered the two situations you mentioned. Are there any more?). It’s when there’s no motivation for their actions (her curiosity, ‘when I don’t know what to do, I work – which is from a deleted scene, granted, but I still think it applies even if you’re against deleted scenes), it’s when they have no flaws (her recklessness, her self-doubt, that she sometimes puts her work over other people’s needs) or if they have flaws, never grow from them (she never really does get out of her tendency toward recklessness, but she does end the first movie with renewed faith in her research, and though at first she says ‘HE’S FINE’ after Thor’s hit with the truck/tasered by Darcy, she does stop and take him to the hospital). To me, good characterization is when we know and can understand why a character does the things they do – and I get Jane. I get her completely. She reminds me of people I know – of my own sister! – of friends I have; to me, she’s very very real.

        I also want to mention this paragraph:

        This version of Jane is a deeply empathetic person who is always game for helping others, even if it is to the detriment of her own health and well-being. This empathy drives her into certain situations that might cause people to view her as reckless but in all actuality, she is just really brave and selfless and Thor picks up on that right away, being that it is unusual for humans to be so in his eyes.

        because while you’re using it to describe EMH Jane – who I am admittedly not that familiar with as I only really know MCU Jane and the latest Thor comic run – I would use a lot of the same description to describe MCU Jane. Though instead of ‘she is just really brave and selfless’ – though she is brave and is caring (though science might briefly get in the way!), I’d say Thor is also attracted to her cleverness in the MCU (which is an unusual thing for humans to be in Asgard’s eyes). You like EMH Jane because she goes into dangerous situations to help others. MCU Jane does it in both movies. She helps civilians in Puente Antiguo and tells the gawkers in London to get to safety, but she also runs into dangerous situations to help Thor/protect Thor – the Destroyer in Thor and she tries to PULL HIM TO SAFETY in TDW. Jane, who is TINY and MORTAL, and probably not strong enough to pull Mortal Thor and definitely wouldn’t be strong enough to pull Asgardian Thor (given their increased endurance to damage probably means they have denser bones and denser skin which would make their weight significantly more than a human’s) tries to do it anyway. And when she can’t, she puts her body over his. It’s a ridiculous thing to do, with zero chance of success. It’s not logical, no, but Jane isn’t always logical. Humans aren’t always logical. And in that moment, her first thought is of protecting him despite the risk to her own well being. How is this that different from EMH Jane? What is it about MCU Jane that’s so different that you find her the weakest version of herself?

        I thought about it while I was at work – A LOT LOL – and my main problem with your EMT rewrite is that it basically has Jane showing up when the plot demands it instead of her being instrumental in driving it. You say she’d be three dimensional (god, I hope so), but she’s tertiary to the plot. She’s replaceable. (And I don’t understand how keeping the science plot but taking Jane out of it completely is anything but erasing her as a woman in STEM. Especially when you give it to the older white male). In your rewrite, Jane shows up to be the Love Interest, to be the Concerned Friend, to be the Daughter Figure, but never shows up to be herself. Who is she besides how she relates to the other characters? What are her flaws? What are her fears? What does she want most in life? Obviously it’s hard to tell from just a summary, but it looks like anything we learn about her is in response to Thor and not because of her as a character. Not because of who she is.

        As far as her driving the plot goes in the MCU, she’s the reason Thor doesn’t wake up in the desert. She’s the reason he hears about Mjolnir – would he have been in that diner if Jane hadn’t taken him? How would he have known where his hammer was otherwise? She’s how he gets out to the SHIELD base and she’s the reason he gets out of it (if she hadn’t been there, who would have called Selvig to come get him and Darcy to forge his ID?). His emotional response to her – and to the trust and friendship they develop over that day and a half they spend together – is part of what drives him to be better. To be worthy. Would he have found that drive eventually? I believe so, yes, but Jane helps him get there. I read an excellent meta the other day

        third post – that touches on his emotional response to her and hers to him, if you’re wondering what I mean by that (but it is also a wonderful analysis of their relationship in the first movie, too).

        I’m less familiar with TDW – I didn’t think it was as bad as some people claim, but it’s not my go-to MCU movie – so I can’t get as detailed, but her disappearing – through no fault of her own – is what brings Thor to Earth, and the aether in her is what convinces Thor to bring her to Asgard. Her time in Asgard teaches her what the convergence really is – Selvig has nothing to do with her knowledge here, as they reunite and immediately leave to save the world and if it happens offscreen, she already knows exactly what he’d tell her anyway (going back to the thunder stealing for a moment there) – Jane’s the reason Thor’s able to get close enough to Malekith to stop him.

        Jane drives these movies just as much as Thor does and changing her character into one that shows up briefly whenever she’s ‘needed’ by Thor, by Erik, by Darcy instead of letting it be as much her story as it is Thor’s is definitely not a step in the right direction IMO.

        I didn’t mention this earlier b/c I really only meant my first post to be about Jane searching for Thor because of Proof! but I totally agree about the Intern’s Intern nonsense. I would’ve much rather have met Jane’s mom or spent more time developing Malekith or even have kept a number of the deleted scenes instead of Ian.

        Like

      • Back again. Thanks for the reply.

        Truth be told, I will not be able to address everything because I’m in the middle of other writing pieces and college shit, but here we go.

        – Your “There Can Only Be One” point is a bit of a false equivalency, but I’m glad you brought it up. Most of the people you named–Sam, Rhodey, etc–are simply side-kicks. Nothing more. And if we attempt to apply this dynamic to Jane and Erik, it doesn’t work because while it should be Erik taking that secondary/side-kick role, it’s not (granted, he does fall back slightly in TDW because of his unstable mental state, but still). The best example I have of this is his role in The Avengers. Why did Jane get that really short, computer cameo (not even live one) while Erik proved to be crucial/wild card Scientist that changed the tide of entire plot of that movie?

        – Your point about collaboration is a fair one and there’s nothing wrong with collaboration but many of the other known scientists in the MCU (Bruce and Tony in particular) have gotten to do cool solo things and have gotten to show off their scientific prowess by themselves. I don’t think we get much of that with Jane without Selvig attempting to hold her hand throughout the entire thing. The Women in STEM metaphor you mentioned is cool though. I didn’t interpret it like that.

        – As for the “automatically putting women in STEM positions and under developing them” point, I’ve got my issues with Jane but that comment is more so directed to Female STEM characters in general. And it is a combination of the tropes “Hot Scientist”, “Emotionless Girl”, and “Motherly Scientist”

        http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/EmotionlessGirl
        http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HotScientist
        http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MotherlyScientist

        – Odin is a POS for sure and I’m not saying his behavior is justified. I am saying that you gotta tread lightly when speaking to a ruler of a kingdom/demigod (or really anyone in a new place because customs. I might not like or agree with someone in another country, but depending on how things operate in that country, I’ve got deal accordingly). That doesn’t make it right or fair, of course, but I digress. And it’s been awhile since I saw TDW, so I may be wrong, but I thought Jane was the first one to say something to him?

        – I didn’t get the point of arguing over the soul forge thing to be quite honest. I know it was probably to show how smart and excited she is, but it came across as annoying and condescending to me. Does it really matter what it’s called? Let them focus on figuring out what’s wrong with her. And this is aggravated by the fact that she’s in a completely different environment/place/realm and having her ask all these questions just made her seem more out of place than she already was.

        – I’m out of time now, but most of this can be answered on my part by the fact that I just don’t see it. And if it’s there, I think Marvel’s doing a really poor job of articulating it. Still, I’m glad some people see the wonderful layers that there are to Jane, but from where I’m standing, there is still a lot of work to be done.

        Like

      • I appreciate that you’re willing to talk about this! I actually hadn’t expected a response – I hear you on the time factor thing. I didn’t realize how late it was until I was about to post last night (late in a: tomorrow is going to suck’ sort of way) And I’m sorry about the link – I had no idea it was going to post that giant image!

        I wouldn’t call Sam/Rhodey sidekicks and I wouldn’t apply that dynamic to Selvig and Jane – that’s the point I was trying to make, if poorly done. The relationships are different in each movie, but that’s the reason why having two people who arguably do the same job/have similar capabilities that doesn’t make any one of them redundant.

        I don’t know why Jane wasn’t in the avengers – I’ve seen a range of theories from Portman being too expensive and marvel not wanting to renegotiate her contract (because money) to Portman not wanting to be in them (which I always ask for sources on, but nobody seems able to provide any and I can’t find any myself) to simple hollywood sexism – but it is a fair point. I do believe she should have been – and that it would have made more sense for her to be in them than Selvig, but that’s not something I can change, unfortunately.

        Though on the other hand, I have some serious mixed feelings about Whedon, so maybe there’s a positive that she wasn’t. But it didn’t have to be Selvig either – Thor comes because of Loki, not Selvig (doesn’t even know he’s been taken) and though he wants to get him back, he never really has much emotional impact with it being Selvig – though I don’t think Whedon knows what to do with Thor, either, so there’s that – and none of the other characters even react about it. Selvig doesn’t drive the plot – he provides the backdoor, true, but is that because it’s something Selvig would do, or is it because The Plot Demanded It? For the record, I’ve never asked myself that question before, so I don’t know what I think Selvig would’ve done -or Jane for that matter, if it were her. My gut says yes, for both of them, but I have to think about it.

        I had wondered if those were the tropes you meant, though I wonder why you bring them up specifically in conjunction with Jane when Jane is neither emotionless nor particularly motherly. She is beautiful, I’ll give you that, but the movies never highlights that (and given the way she dresses, in layers and clothes that are too big for her, I’d say they took a few steps to sidestep this particular trope altogether) I’d still like to know how you think they dropped the ball regarding Jane specifically.

        I still don’t understand why Odin/Soul Forge scenes are incompatible with her character? It sounds like you mention these scenes more because they annoy you/you think she’s acting inappropriately then because it’s incompatible with Jane’s characterization/’the scientist character.’ If they annoy you, that’s fair? I don’t have a problem with that – I don’t necessarily understand it, but I don’t think it’s wrong to say that instead of blaming bad characterization. Though I hesitate to say that Jane calling Odin out on his rudeness is inappropriate because culture – I agree that culture is important and respecting/understanding it is important, but I don’t think it’s okay to give someone a pass for acting like Odin did simply because culture (or because he’s a foreign dignitary, but again, Jane had no idea who Odin was). Especially since women/POC are too often silenced for being ‘inappropriate.’

        Did it annoy you when Thor smashed the cup? I never made the connection before, but it’s a very similar situation. How did you view that scene?

        Jane doesn’t say anything to Odin – he comes in, ignores her and immediately starts arguing with Thor, calls her inferior/like a goat, and that’s when Jane says hey, who do you think you are? (so, no, I would not call that mouthing off)

        About the Soul Forge: that scene felt very real and very natural to me. I think there’s this perception that science is pretty much standardized – everyone does everything the same way, everyone calls everything by the same name, everyone knows exactly what everyone else is talking about – when that is very much not the case. People have often have a hard time reading their peers’ papers – when they’re in the same specialized field! – because they don’t use the same terminology/call things by a different name. It also felt real because Jane has this strange thing inside of her and she’s in a strange world and they’re doing strange things to her so she latches on to the first familiar thing she sees. I think that’s a very natural reaction?

        I do want to thank you again for the time you took in responding. It’s nice when you can have conversations on topics that you don’t necessarily agree on. If you have the time/inclination, I would love to talk more about what you consider bad characterization vs. good characterization/what is bad writing specifically, to you, since I am a giant nerd about that sort of thing, and it is such a common reason given for not liking specific characters (and I never seem to actually get an answer). I’m especially curious since I’m getting the feeling you have more problems with Jane’s role in the movies instead of with her actual characterization – I would’ve loved to see some different things for her role in TDW myself – and the two big characterization issues you mentioned – searching for Thor (where we heavily disagree on her motivation) and reaching into the aether (Which wasn’t an accurate recounting of events, and while rereading the article, I realized you attribute her actions there to searching for Thor again when her investigation of the anomalies has nothing to do with him) are only partial interpretations of her characterization.

        But thank you for your time (and I swear this wasn’t supposed to get this long! I told myself ONE PAGE, YOU CAN DO IT IN ONE PAGE, but clearly I could not), and I wish you luck with your college stuff!

        Like

Sound off!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s