Mounting excitement in Japan for Avengers: Infinity War

With the popularity of Marvel films at an all-time high, Japanese fans are impatiently waiting for April 27th when Avengers: Infinity War will open in theaters. Trailers for the film have been playing in Japanese cinemas for several months and excitement continues to mount.

A new series of trailers "geared towards men"

However, a series of trailers released last week on Disney Studios's Japanese YouTube channel have come under criticism, among other things, for being very clearly aimed at an exclusively male audience.

The trailers focus on individual Avengers: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and Black Widow, highlighting their strengths and appeal through scenes from previous films, before finally showing snippets of them in action in Infinity War.

Here are the first four:

The trailers are framed as conversations between two men who sound like they're in their late teens or early twenties and, from the references they make and the tone of their conversation, probably into gaming and net culture. One who's a Marvel fan tries to convince the other who isn't that he should go see the film, but in each video, the main point he seems to be trying to sell is how the heroes are appealing as men. In fact, the kanji for man 男 shows up repeatedly in the trailers.

For Captain America, the main pitch is: "He's a man's man" (literally, "a man that men can fall for"), for Iron Man, "He symbolizes everything which excites a man's spirit of adventure," for Thor, "He heats up the man in you," and for Hulk, "He makes you want to yell out and express your man's spirit of reckless abandon."

Even the Black Widow version is focused on the heroine's appeal to a male audience. The Marvel fan doing the convincing is a woman, but the rhetoric doesn't change. This time, the main pitch is: "She'll coolly shoot an arrow through your heart (literally, "kill your man's heart") and in seconds, you'll be KO."

Negative reaction to the trailers on Twitter

On Twitter, the reaction was swift. One critical opinion that quickly drew attention, with nearly 4,700 likes and retweets at time of writing, came from Asu Saionji (@asusaionji):

---"You know, I don't want to have to get angry each time for this kind of thing. But just looking at this one trailer (series), do they have to go this far to talk about the Avengers on the premise that it's "geared to men"? Even though there are many people here in Japan striving to undo this kind of assumption, they (Disney Studios) have no problem doing something like this. It's sad."

Responding, another woman tweeted:

Men also voiced criticism of the trailers:

---"When I think about it, I have the impression that there's a stronger nuance of this being discrimination against men than against women. It's like being told: 'Men like heroes that fight furiously, don't you?' It's absolutely a sex-based bias. From women's perspective, they must be uncomfortable with it too because they're left out, and that's not good."

A growing number of Japanese Marvel fans are women

Women make up an important segment of the Marvel fandom in Japan. In fact, a report by Pia Corporation focusing on the growing female Japanese Marvel fandom cites a recent event featuring Marvel goods where nearly half (49.7%) of fans were women. Perhaps the negative reaction to this series of trailers may provide a useful hint to Disney Studios for their future marketing campaigns.

By - Ben K.