Who is David Goyer? He is the screenwriter for the Superman movie Man of Steel and its upcoming sequel Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and a few weeks ago he made some very sexist comments about a female comic book character and insulted female comic book readers in the process.
During an interview for a podcast, Goyer was asked about how he would approach a movie about The Hulk and The Hulk's cousin, She-Hulk. This was his response:
"I have a theory about She-Hulk. Which was created by a man, right? And at the time in particular I think 95% of comic book readers were men and certainly almost all of the comic book writers were men. So the Hulk was this classic male power fantasy. It's like, most of the people reading comic books were these people like me who were just these little kids getting the shit kicked out of them every day…
And so then they created She-Hulk, right? Who was still smart… I think She-Hulk is the chick that you could fuck if you were Hulk, you know what I'm saying? … She-Hulk was the extension of the male power fantasy. So it's like if I'm going to be this geek who becomes the Hulk then let's create a giant green porn star that only the Hulk could fuck."
To be fair, She-Hulk was created by two men — Stan Lee and John Buscema — but their reasons for doing so were much less insidious than Goyer made them out to be.*
Stan Lee himself responded to Goyer's comments, saying,
"I know I was looking for a new female superhero, and the idea of an intelligent Hulk-type grabbed me. Never for an instant did I want her as a love interest for Hulk. Only a nut would even think of that."
In addition to being just plain idiotic, Goyer's comments about She-Hulk are especially disheartening given that he writing the first feature film (Batman v Superman) to include movie Wonder Woman, one of the most well-known female superheroes. If he can so flippantly refer to She-Hulk as a "giant green porn star," then I'm already quite worried about his characterization of Wonder Woman.
I know that people say awful things all of the time with regard to women (fictional or otherwise), and normally I would have forgotten this kind of remark by now, but Goyer was just too much for me this time.
The thing is that I am a fledgling comic book fan, and as a woman and feminist, it is a strange time to be getting into comic books. Goyer's comments came not that long after former comic book editor and blogger Janelle Asselin received rape threats in response to a scathing comic book review she wrote. That's right — rape threats over a comic book review. In addition to being called "a whiny bitch, a feminazi, a feminist bitch, [and] a bitter cunt," Asselin was assailed by angry comics readers while trying to conduct an online survey about, of course, sexual harassment in comics.
Goyer's remarks and the horrific response to Asselin, including the fact that she could not do a survey on sexual harassment without being sexually harassed herself, are indicative of an environment that is conspicuously unwelcoming to women.
And it's not just women — girls are being pushed out, too. Late last year, Paul Dini, a producer associated with several animated TV shows based on comic book properties, asserted in an interview that TV executives are just not interested in a young female audience:
"But, the Cartoon Network was saying, 'F***, no, we want the boys' action, it's boys' action, this goofy boy humor we've gotta get that in there. And we can't—' and I'd say, but look at the numbers, we've got parents watching, with the families, and then when you break it down—'Yeah, but the—so many—we've got too many girls. We need more boys.'"
In other words, this hostility toward women starts early and builds until you have a female comic book blogger getting threatened with rape and a male comic book movie producer dismissing a female character as a slut and a freaky sex object. And these are just the most noteworthy examples of behavior that is repeated every day, if my female friends' anecdotes about being talked down to at comic book shops are any indication.
In the end, my anger isn't even about She-Hulk specifically, but rather it's about casual sexism and feeling unwelcome in a self-styled boys' club that intentionally fails to be inclusive. I like to think that comic books are for everyone, but sometimes, as a woman, it's hard to be sure when you have idiots like Goyer spewing filth like he did. As of today, Goyer has still not apologized for his remarks about She-Hulk, and I'm guessing it's likely he never will.
Top image via comicbookresources.com.
*Incidentally, at the time of She-Hulk's creation there was a TV show about The Hulk and it's been speculated that Lee made her so he would have all rights to any female Hulk counterparts, but if one thing is for sure, She-Hulk was never ever meant to be The Hulk's love interest.