The Iron Man films have given us two major female characters. Gwyneth Paltrow plays Pepper Pots, Tony Stark's colleague and love interest, whilst Scarlett Johansson plays SHIELD super spy Black Widow. I initially loved Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper in Iron Man. She played the role energetic, fun and most importantly fresh. Paltrow managed to overcome the superhero movie cliché of being a damsel in distress, and emerge strong, confident and appealing. Most importantly though, she had fantastic chemistry with co-star Robert Downey Jr. The constant tease of would they wouldn't they with their relationship kept the audiences engaged, whilst providing some great comedy moments. He performance as Pepper fell a bit short in Iron Man 2 as some of the on screen chemistry with Downey Jr was lost, whilst her role as C.E.O of Stark Industries was never really convincing.
Scarlett Johansson's character the Black Widow is left in something of a wilderness. I can't help but think there's more to come from her character as so far apart from one pretty cool fight scene, the Black Widow has been poorly handled on screen. It's a shame considering how good the actual character is. We need to see more espionage, spy tactics and Russian accent for Widow to truly flourish on screen.
Thor has hammered down to cinemas this month, earning some great reviews in the process. Part of that is down to the film having such a talented ensemble of cast. Despite having slightly limited screen time, I have to say Natalie Portman was fantastic as Thor's mortal love interest Jane Foster. Again, throwing away the cliché of being a damsel in distress, Portman embraces Thor's Asgardian heritage with welcome arms. Unlike Pepper from Iron Man 1/2, she rides along with Thor's journey and is totally smitten with him. It's fun to see a female character who actually enjoys that her man is a superhero for once. She's lovely.
Jaimie Alexander as Asgard warrior Sif suffers from the same problem Scarlett Johansson had. Whilst Alexander really does look the part of Sif, both in beauty and in stature, she suffers from poor character development on screen. The film continuously hints at Sif having a lusting interest in Thor, but that's not given any development throughout the film. You think someone who's known and loved Thor for years would have a bit of a problem with him going off to Earth for a few days and wooing a mortal. Sif does best the Black Widow in action though, as Sif demonstrates exactly why she's Asgard's leading female warrior by almost taking down the Destroyer armour in the film. Beats taking down a few security guards any day.
It's a tough call but I think I have to give the Iron Man franchise credit for having the best success success with female characters. Despite loosing some of her charisma in Iron Man 2, Gwyneth Paltrow has been a revolutionary female character in superhero movies. She's headstrong, she's got great chemistry with Tony Stark, and she's also very good looking. Scarlett Johansson is beautiful, but she needs to be more than that in the Avengers movie. The same goes for Jaimie Alexander in Thor, who also needs more character development. When it comes to Natalie Portman however, I hope she is in the Avengers because she's lovely and awesome.