The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Captain America: Civil War

Continuing in its efforts to conquer the world, Marvel has released yet another film. It’s latest in world domination? Captain America: Civil War.

In the newest installment of Captain America, an international bill that would police the Avengers is proposed by the United Nations. This would be all well and fine, but some of the Avengers (ahhmm, Steve Rogers [Chris Evans]) are not happy with some of the potential pitfalls that such a bill could cause, and as a result of this, the Avengers wind up divided and at war with one another.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Captain America: Civil War passes the race test but it does not pass the Bechdel or Russo test.

Captain-America-Civil-War-2-Trailer-Vision-vs-Scarlet-Witch
Wanda escapes Vision (Paul Bettany) who has been keeping her prisoner per Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) orders.

The cast of the newest Captain America, Civil War, is primarily White (not to mention almost completely male) with a few non-White individuals playing prominent parts.  The non-White individuals that are in the film rarely talk to each other, but on the few occasions that non-White individuals do talk to each other, there is a single instance where White people are not mentioned (e.g., T’Challa’s father tells T’Challa [Chadwick Boseman] how much he has grown as a person) so Civil War passes the race test.

As to the Bechdel test, there are a couple of named women in Civil War (e.g., Black Widow [Scarlett Johansson], Wanda [Elizabeth Olsen] and Sharon [Emily VanCamp]) but because none of these women ever have an actual conversation with one another, the film does not pass the Bechdel test. Civil War also fails to pass the Russo test, and the film does not pass this diversity test because there are no LGBTI characters in Civil War.

*The Bechdel test entails three requirements:
1. It has to have at least two (named) women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

**The Vito Russo test entails three requirements:
1. The film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex and/or transgender
2. The character must not be solely or predominately defined by her sexual orientation, gender identity and/or as being intersex
3.The character must be tied into the plot in such a way that her removal would have a significant effect

***The race or people of color (POC) test has three requirements:
1. It has two people of color in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something other than a White person

****Just because a film passes the Bechdel, Russo and race test does not mean that it is not sexist, heterosexist, racist and/or cissexist, etc. The Bechdel, Russo and race test is only a bare minimum qualifier for the representation of LGBTI individuals, women and people of color in film. The failure to pass these tests also does not identify whether the central character was a woman, a person of color or a LGBTQI individual and it does not dictate the quality of the film.

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