Starting today, at participating Wal-Mart and Sam's Club locations, customers can have their faces scanned and 3D printed onto Marvel superhero action figures.
Cool idea, right? 3D printing company 3DPlusMe is behind the technology, and the new deal is available through a partnership between the company and the retail giant.
There's a slight problem, however. There are only two choices for your action hero: Captain America and Iron Man. Despite the fact that the 3DPlusMe machine that gets trotted out at conventions also produces Black Widow figures, store customers have male-only options. As The Mary Sue points out, that's a weird omission, especially considering the fact that a custom Black Widow figure is standing right next to the two dudes on the 3DPlusMe website.
This promotion implies that superheroes are for boys and men only
Sure, a girl or woman could get their face scanned and have their own version of Captain America or Iron Man. But that doesn't excuse the fact that the only available models are hyper-masculine. In an ideal world, there would be more body types available. At least having a woman option (like Black Widow, who, again, is readily available from the company's machine at cons) would alleviate the sense that this promotion implies that superheroes are for boys and men only.
It reeks of cynicism and sexism. Considering that women go to superhero movies — women comprised nearly half of the audience for Guardians of the Galaxy's ultra-important opening weekend, for example — that attitude isn't just stupid, it ignores a huge segment of the market.
Representation matters. We're slowly beginning to see capable woman heroes emerge in these films — like Black Widow herself in The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy. It's a shame that the marketing is still pandering to gross, outdated ideas about who can be a hero — and who can be ignored.