You might remember that last year, we covered a surprising lack of Gamora on Guardians of the Galaxy merchandise. Well, history is repeating itself with Black Widow, and somebody dug up the reason why.
The short answer, according to The Mary Sue, is that Disney thinks boys fear anyone with a vagina on their T-shirts. A former Marvel employee who spoke anonymously has explained what’s going on:
While working at Marvel post-acquisition, I saw a deck circulated by Disney’s Brand Marketing team. I’m prohibited from sharing the slides, but the takeaway is that, unlike the actual demos, the desired demographics had no females in it whatsoever. I asked my supervisor why that was. Ever the pragmatist, he said, “That’s not why Disney bought us. They already have the girls’ market on lockdown.”
In other words, Disney already sells little girls lots of princess junk, so why bother trying to sell them any T-shirts with superheroines on them? But that doesn’t explain the other end of the equation, which is why Disney thinks putting a woman on a T-shirt will drive away anybody with a Y chromosome.
Anecdotal evidence, at least, would indicate otherwise. When we posted about the lack of Gamora merch, we had no shortage of parents weighing in complaining that their son was wondering why a Guardian was missing. And you only have to go as far as Twitter’s search function to find men annoyed their Avengers merch options are missing a team member or two:
Taking the most generous tack here, which is that Disney did market research and found that in the twenty-first century, boys fear girls on their shirts, you’d think they’d at least have a print-on-demand shirt or something for people to order. It’s not like custom T-shirts in small numbers are a weird or strange phenomenon on the Internet, or that nerds don’t buy action figures; Disney was perfectly happy to let Hot Toys make a premium Black Widow figure.
But considering what else we’ve seen from the toy industry, one suspects the most generous tack is not the one to take. Hopefully Disney will address this soon, because whether they want to admit it or not, it isn’t going away.