The Bechdel test is a method for evaluating the portrayal of women in fiction. It was created by Alison Bechdel in 1985.
The test has only three requirements
- The movie has to have at least two women in it,
- who talk to each other,
- about something besides a man.
I am always curious to see If a movie passes this test, but I never really got deep research. I decided to first turn my investigation towards the MCU. The Marvel Cinematic universe has grown to be one of the highest grossing and most succesful film franchises of all time. It just seemed natural to start our ‘Is the movie sexist’ series.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Fail. There really isn’t any named female character besides Betty.
Iron Man (2008)
Fail. Pepper and the journalist had a conversation, but it was about Tony.
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Pass. Natasha and Pepper talk briefly about business.
Pass. Jane and Darcy talk about physics for a bit, but mostly they talk about Thor.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Fail. There is only one named female character Peggy Carter.
The Avengers (2012)
There are three named female characters (though Maria Hill is only known as Agent Hill). They never talk to each other though.
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Pass. Pepper and Maya briefly talk about her work.
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Pass. In this film there are four named female characters: Jane, Darcy, Frida, Sif. Jane and Darcy and Jane and Frigga talk about science together.
Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014)
Pass. Hill and Natasha talk about the bullet that killed Fury.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Pass. Nebula and Gamora talk at the beginning about who should bring the orb to the blue guy. (???)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Dubious Pass. Natasha does have a conversation with Madame B at the red center in a flashback scene, but the madame was only named in the credits so it doesn’t count. Natasha does have a brief conversation with Laura about the sex of her baby. So technically it passes, only just.
Ant- Man (2015)
Fail. There are only two named female characters in the film and they don’t talk to each other. Scott’s ex-wife Maggie talks to her daughter for a bit, but I only count grown women for this test.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Fail. Natasha and Wanda don’t talk to each other throughout the movie. There is also aunt May, but she only talks to Tony and Peter.
Doctor Strange (2016)
Fail. There are only two named female characters in this movie: Christine and the Antient One (yes, I count that as a name), but they don’t even meet in the movie.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2017)
Pass. Gamora and The Sovereign talk for a bit.
Spider- Man: Homecoming (2017)
Fail. There are three named female characters in the movie: aunt May, MJ and Liz, but they don’t talk to each other.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Fail. There are two-three named female characters in the movie: Hela and Valkyrie, but, you guessed it, they don’t talk to each other.
Black Panther (2018)
Pass. There are several named female characters and they do talk to each other, although it is mostly about T’challa.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Fail. There are several named female character in this movie, and surprisingly they don¨t talk to each other.
Ant- Man and the Wasp (2018)
Pass. I don¨t want to give out any spoilers about the movie, since I haven’t even seen it yet, but apparently Hope and her mother talk a bit about science.
Out of 20 movies 10 of them pass the Bechdel test. The Bechdel test only requirs a bare minimum. Just named female characters talking about something other than a man. That’s it. And still ten of these movies don’t even have that. Some of them like both Guardians or Age of Ultron barely even pass. In those movies that pass the women have usually only single brief conversation together. Or If they do talk about each other it is mostly about the men. I’m not saying, that the movies who fail this test are sexist, nor am I saying the movies that pass it are feminist. Captain America: The First Avenger has a marvellous (haha) female character in Peggy Carter and still it doesn’t pass. In Ragnarok there are two badass ladies, but the movie doesn’t pass. What I’m trying to say is The Bechdel test is not enough to determine if the movie is sexist, but it is the minimum. Women deserve to see movies with female characters in them. In this day and age, how are there still movies which do not pass these minimal requests? I say fuck you Hollywood, give women more space in your films! it’s really not that much to ask.