May 1, 2012 in Editorial
There came a day, a day unlike any other… when Earth’s mightiest heroes found themselves united against a common threat… to fight the foes no single superhero could withstand… on that day, The Avengers were born. – Nick Fury
But even the mightiest superheroes need partners that will stand by them. Centives decided to take a look at these leading ladies. We ran Google searches on the superheroes and their partners and analyzed the ratio of partner search results to hero search results. They are summarized in the table below:
To compare the popularity of the leading ladies to their heroes is somewhat disheartening. Reaching a shocking low we see the object of Iron Man’s affection, Pepper Potts, at a meager 0.15% of his popularity. Centives believes that it would be safe to conclude that Black Sabbath may never release a song titled “Pepper Potts.” “I am Pepper Potts” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Our leading “leading lady” appears to be Betty Ross who garners 19.8% of the popularity of her smitten giant, Hulk. Her prominence is probably explained by the fact that there’s more scope for character development when your leading man is limited to grunts and snorts.
If the fictional leading ladies take such a secondary role to their heroes, what about the actors who play them? Interestingly enough, only one of the actors in The Avengers is more popular than the hero that they play:
The sole female of the group, Scarlett Johansson, is the only one that gives her hero, Black Widow, a run for its money. Jeremy Renner another character who, like Scarlett Johansson, did not star in a stand-alone movie comes second, being almost as popular as his hero Hawk-Eye. Chris Evans just about manages to hold his own against Captain America, while Robert Downey Jr., and Mark Ruffalo, the actors that play Iron Man and The Hulk, register in the single digits.
It seems that Scarlett Johansson’s relative success compared to her male colleagues is indicative of a wider trend. While the actors that portray our superheroes are almost always one-upped in terms of popularity, it is the actresses that depict the leading feminine counterparts of the heroes that steal the show:
Two of the four leading actresses far surpass the popularity of the roles that they play. While Robert Downey Jr. is 7.93% as popular as the character he plays, Gywneth Paltrow is 57 times more popular than Iron Man’s leading lady, Pepper Potts. Similarly Natalie Portman is almost 6 times as popular as Jane Foster, the romantic focus of the Viking Thunder God, Thor. On the lower end of the scale, Liv Tyler just about manages to equal the popularity of Betty Ross, the Hulk’s muse. Hayley Atwell is completely outshone by Peggy Carter, the object of Captain America’s affection.
While superheroes outperform actors to an extreme extent, actresses are much more likely to be more popular than the fictional characters they depict on film. But when it comes to dating an Avenger? So much for a mutual relationship. In the end, as attractive as dating someone with super strength, mystic abilities, or unrelenting determination for the pursuit of justice may seem, that’s no way to win a popularity contest.
Enjoyed reading this? You might also like our look at the the physics of the Hulk saving Iron Man, or the most effective Justice League. You can find those and other interesting things in our Editorials although if you want a selection of our most popular check out the Greatest Hits. You might also want to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to get the latest and greatest from Centives.