Actor Mark Ruffalo, portrayer of Dr. Bruce Banner/the Incredible Hulk in the Avengers film franchise and a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, did something rather un-liberal on Wednesday. During a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session, Ruffalo defended Avengers: Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon against the angry hoard of feminists who drove Whedon off Twitter with their rabid accusations that his portrayal of the character Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in the film is “anti-woman”:
“I think it’s sad,” Ruffalo said. “Because I know how Joss feels about women, and I know that he’s made it a point to create strong female characters.”
The issue came to a boil on Monday when Whedon suddenly quit Twitter. For hours people (including this writer) wondered whether it was due to the criticism — and death threats — Whedon received over his new film. On Tuesday, Whedon brushed off the notion, calling it “horses–t,” before also calling out feminists for attacking other feminists.
Ruffalo described Whedon as a “deeply committed feminist,” and noted that he believes the anger has more to do with a lack of strong female superheroes.
“I think part of the problem is that people are frustrated that they want to see more women, doing more things, in superhero movies,” Ruffalo said, “and because we don’t have as many women as we should yet, they’re very, very sensitive to every single storyline that comes up right now.”
While the defense is admittedly overtly PC, it’s a defense nonetheless.
As for the left-wing outrage over Black Widow, in Age of Ultron she reveals late in the film that she is unable to have children because she was sterilized as part of her training to be a Russian spy. She also suggests that this makes her feel like a monster — and feminists jumped to the conclusion that Whedon is therefore implying that women who can’t bear children are monsters. On the contrary, Ruffalo argued that Black Widow’s story arc has made her appear even stronger:
“If anything, Black Widow is much stronger than Banner,” Ruffalo said. “She protects him. She does her job, and basically they begin to have a relationship as friends, and I think it’s a misplaced anger.”
Ruffalo added of Whedon, “as far as any man can be a champion for women, he is that.”