Marvel Movies vs The Bechdel Test

The good old Bechdel Test has been popping up in the news fairly frequently recently, not least thanks to a few plucky Swedish cinemas, and now Geek Syndicate have put the first phase of recent Marvel movies to the test.

Sif Cat Collins of Geeky Girls Love Sci-Fi has written a piece in the latest Geek Syndicate magazine that focuses on the Iron Man trilogy, the two Thor films, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, and The Avengers.

Collins also gives a brief overview of the test itself – namely what it is exactly, why it’s important, and why it doesn’t tell the full story but remains a useful tool.

Geek Syndicate Magazine #8

Using the test as a tool to show general trends is a particular interest of mine, (particularly when coupled with the Reverse Bechdel Test) and one I hope to find the time to return to on a larger scale.

Anyway, go read! Collins’ article starts on page 56, and the whole magazine is definitely worth a read.


  1. MBunge says:

    And in romantic comedies, how many times do two guys talk to each other about something other than a woman?


  2. Michael P says:

    Quite a bit, actually, other Mike.

  3. Oooh watch out, we’ve got a badass over here! (Alex) Cheers for that dismissive contribution, yeesh.

    Michael P – I wish to like your comment many times!

  4. Louis Falcetti says:

    ahahahah i love the “BUT WHAT ABOUT MEN” argument. it’s the same lame battle cry reversal of the impotent idiot that says “BUT IF WE HAD A WHITE PRIDE DAY YOUD SAY ITS RACIST”. for some reason people give their middle schoolers computers and they end up on the internet commenting on articles.

    SPOILER ALERT: the news, the media, society, tv, movies, music, books, work dynamics, politics, etc… have been weighted for one particular group of people (DOUBLE SPOILER ALERT) called white men. So when someone speaks up about ALLLLLLLLLLLLL the other people on the planet who for some bizarre reason would like to see themselves represented in the news, the media, society,tv, movies, music, books, work dynamics, politics, etc… in three dimensional, intelligent, even handed ways rather than as blow up dolls, buffonish serfs, or window dressing. Other Mike is the worst.

  5. swampy says:

    This is a great comedy piece on reverse racism, which can be applied to the topic in this article.

    It might help explain the situation to you, Other Mike aka MBunge

  6. Joseph says:

    I suppose that “test” has its merits, but it seems kind of silly in this instance. While a meaningless conversation between Hill and Romanov in Avengers, or between Carter and another random female in Cap, would have resulted in both movies passing the test, who cares? Both movies had strong, intelligent, independent female characters who kicked ass and at various times rescued the male heroes. Whether or not they pass this Bechdel test seems irrelevant.

  7. Steve Replogle says:

    I disagree with you, Joseph. The Bechdel test reveals inequality in a dramatic and compelling way, which is why it has returned to the cultural conversation. I love do super-heroes, and have generally enjoyed the Marvel movies. But as a guy, I do care, and I don’t like being played for stupid by unthinking chauvinism! (Or sexism, or whatever you want to call it these days…) The strong female characters you cite would be even more interesting if they were a little more like real women – you know, with women friends, and talking about anything other than a man. It’s not a superheroic leap. Everything improves when inequality in the arts is addressed – characters, stories, themes, everything.

  8. James R says:

    I’m just glad I still live in a world where if a film does, on that thankfull rare occasion, happen to pass the bechdel test, it won’t be intentional.

  9. The test is good as general rule, with some exceptions, I think. The agent carter character was made that way to show a “what a woman” character back in the day, doesn’t that make her a token, out of the norm? She was meant to be different for different sake. In all the examples listed the Thor movies have a great cast of female leads and a lot of them too! How did they manage to do it so right?

  10. James says:

    The problem with the Bechdel Test is Beasts of the Southern Wild fails and Sex And The City 2 passes.

  11. As mentioned in the linked pieces, the usefulness of the Bechdel Test is shown when it is applied to a sample of films – individual results don’t really matter, it’s the overall trends that do. Not every film has to have a 50/50 cast, nor does every film have to pass either the Bechdel or the Reverse Bechdel.

    But the fact that such a huge majority of films fail the Bechdel, while passing the Reverse, show that there is a huge disparity in our media. And worse, leads to people having opinions like “where if a film does, on that thankfull[y] rare occasion, happen to pass the bechdel test…” [sic], which is utterly horrifying with regards to how that person sees women – on or off screen.

  12. Louis Falcetti says:

    theres a problem with beasts of the southern wild failing the bechtel test? i would’ve thought the problem with beasts of the southern wild is that being unbelievably poor and having an abusive psychotic father is romanticized to a nauseating degree.

  13. Charles says:

    Yeah, I don’t think it matters if good films fail it and shitty films pass it. I always thought the whole point was to bring certain disparities to people’s attention, rather than judge every film solely on that merit.

  14. The Bechdel Test is proof of the overwhelming ambivalence of people in power in the film industry towards women as evidenced by the documented fear of having more than one women in a movie, having them interact in a natural, realistic way that reflects what women do all day. On a larger scale, it reflects the struggle of women to be accepted as human and not the other in all human interaction.


  15. MBunge says:

    “The Bechdel Test is proof of the overwhelming ambivalence of people in power in the film industry towards women as evidenced by the documented fear of having more than one women in a movie, having them interact in a natural, realistic way that reflects what women do all day.”

    Yeah, I think you’ve got bit of a flimsy standard for what qualifies as “proof”. Not that sexism and patriarchal attitudes aren’t entirely real, but there’s a much simpler explanation for the Bechdel Test results. Namely that films that have women ” interact in a natural, realistic way that reflects what women do all day” bomb at the box office and therefore no one wants to make them.

    I mean, how many horror/slasher films would pass the Bechdel test while still objectifying women in the most grotesque ways?


  16. Well except Scooby Doo. And HUnger Games. Other than that, yep.

    MBunge, do you not see the ingrained sexism in your comment?

    I’m not asking for everything to be about makeup. I just wish Chris Claremont’s “Is there any reason this character couldn’t be a woman?” wasn’t the highpoint of gender integration in pop culture. I think two women can have the following conversation without boring men:

    FIRST TROOPER: Do you know what’s going on?

    SECOND TROOPER: Maybe it’s another drill.

    SECOND TROOPER: What was that?

    FIRST TROOPER: Oh, it’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.

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