Marvel’s Victoria Alonso Wants a Female Superhero Movie, Calls for More Women in VFX

Victoria Alonso Marvel
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Marvel’s exec producer and exec VP of visual effects & post-production, Victoria Alonso, called for vfx pros to hire more women — not just for gender equity, but because it will improve the work.

In her keynote conversation at the Visual Effects Society Production Summit in Hollywood on Saturday, Alonso diverged from talk of Marvel’s story process to thank the group for inviting a woman in to speak, but raised her voice to ask, “Where are the girls?!”

“You’ve got to get the girls in here, boys. It’s better when it’s 50-50,” she continued. “I have been with you beautiful, handsome, talented, creative men in dark rooms for two decades and I can tell you those rooms are better when there are a few of us in them. So as you take this with you, please remember that it’s OK to allow the ladies in. They’re smart, they’re talented. They bring a balance that you need.”

Marvel has put Alonso in a position of authority, but has not yet announced a film centered around a female superhero. Variety asked Alonso in an offstage conversation when Marvel will do so. “If it were up to me, it would be today,” she said. Alonso then took a long pause to consider what to say next, finally smiling and declining to say more.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe already features a female heroine, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow. Johansson toplined “Lucy,” Luc Besson’s sci-fi pic that amounted to a superheroine film, grossing over $400 million worldwide.

Asked whether Warner’s announcement of a Wonder Woman film has put more pressure on Marvel to do a female superhero movie, she said, “We have so much pressure internally for everything we do, we don’t need outside pressure. We are always so hard on ourselves.”

She said Marvel hopes Warner/DC is successful because “the success of superheroes, whether ours or others, is success for all of us. But I will be honored to be part of a woman leading the way.”

Among visual effects artists and supervisors, she said there is a constant struggle to build up the number of women.

“This a tough road for women, not because it is a world of men, but because it takes a certain amount of time to be in a supervisory position, and by that time you are having to make a decision about having children or not. Which means you have to take a break. If you take a break, you’re out of the game, and once you’re out of the game, it’s hard to get back in the game.”

She said once women decide to have children, about half don’t come back to the business. “So we’re back to trying to fill in the 50% that left. We’re consistently trying to fill that gap of women who leave.”

She said that global production is hard on families in general, not just on women. “We are like gypsies, right? We go out in the world for months chasing the location. … When you’re away for so long, a certain degree of loneliness sets in that breaks families apart.” The 16-hour days of vfx production are also hard on families, she said.

For her part, Alonso says when sees talented female artists have children, she tries to bring them back part-time, or for part of the year.

Alonso, who speaks frequently at vfx events around the world, told the gathering she makes a point of accepting invitations so that women can see a role model.

“This morning I came here because I wanted to make sure that when you put this out on a live-stream and there’s some 14-year-old kid in Austria or a 15-year-old in Germany or a 17-year-old in Massachusetts or somewhere else, and you want to go become an engineer or a digital artist, ladies, you can do it. Why, because the boys are going to be by your side, teaching you what they know, and at times, you will be teaching them. So for me what’s important is to have a presence.”

She said that she couldn’t see any role models when she was growing up in Argentina, but “I’d say if I want to be something, I want to be Kathy Kennedy. I just knew she produced ‘E.T.’ and ‘Schindler’s List.’” When she scheduled a lunch with Kennedy, she said, “I told everyone in my office. I was like a dork,” and when she met Kennedy, she told her story. “I gushed. I was a mess. She had tears in her eyes.”

“I said there are hundreds of thousands of little girls out there who think you’re the bomb,” said Alonso, “and there are hundreds of thousands of little girls who want to be you.”

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 10

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Jon Fitz says:

    I wouldn’t encourage anyone of any gender to set foot in this industry, unless they are a masochist.

  2. vfx dude says:

    Maybe if she didn’t try so hard to put facilities out of business every time she did a pic, conditions would be better for women and men alike.

  3. Paul says:

    Gender is never an issue that determines who I hire. Talent continues to be the number one consideration.

    That being said, in an ideal world, film industries would hire a 50-50 split of men and women in all disciplines. I like having the best mix I can have on a crew, women bring a necessary and different aesthetic to the work, however often its not really a choice I have. The number of people still pursuing careers as artists still seems skewed towards being predominantly male.

    However, I’d have to say in VFX management, the number of women in production roles seems to dominate.

  4. Scott Ross says:

    Ms. Alonso is a force of nature. I had the good fortune of working w her back at Digital Domain. But she has the same power in effecting the process in mega budget VFX movies as she had in producing commercials as a Commercial VFX producer. Alonso has soul,and compassion but alas Victoria is part of the machine of “cheaper,faster, better”, and as long as VFX production houses continue to acquiesce to Studios, men and women alike will suffer.

    • Awkward says:

      Ms. Alonso is such a fantastic person. I got to meet her at SIGGRAPH this year. At first I was intimidated to approach her between panels, but she was so welcoming. The conference is gigantic (and very male dominated), but she took the time to speak to me and made a point to encourage me to stick with it and keep going with my CG work. It was incredibly inspiring, and she was very positive about the possibility of female-led Marvel films in the future.

  5. Matt Wallin says:

    I’m not afraid of being blacklisted. But while she’s at it, how about a female director? Why the VES of all groups would host her and make it such a softball event is evidence of the founder’s and board’s tone deafness on the real issues facing artists. Alonso only cares about Marvel’s bottom line and could care less how they get there.

  6. Bobbie says:

    They are making a Wonder Woman movie, unfortunately the casting choice was pretty horrible. However, ultimately the problem isn’t really in front of the camera, it’s behind the camera where the entire industry directing, producing, writing are dominated by men. Fix that first, get some female directors in the action movie game.

  7. Alex says:

    Then make a flick starring a female superhero, while you’re at it make a flick starring a gay action hero who gets the “guy” in the end…of the film of course. I don’t hear people screaming for films like these. But why don’t you risk mega $ and make one? Ya never know, people may go see it.

  8. Concerned VFX Citizen says:

    She is soft pedaling by using a less pressing issue to distract from the elephant in the room; the hammering of VFX workers by hollywood producers through subsidy welfare, destructive business contracts and the abusive labor practices. Everyone in the audience was silently nodding their heads, while thinking, “Who does she think she’s fooling, besides herself? We are all hurting and I’m a coward because I can’t speak up for fear of being blacklisted.” This is embarrassing for her. Too many people know of her red herring. She may not be addressing the real issues to protect her position at Marvel, but if those attending don’t have the courage to speak out it will continue to be swept under the rug.

  9. Tim Lydon says:

    Why did you ask the VP of Visual Effects? Rather than someone, like, IDK, Kevin Feige? Or someone who actually is more involved with Marvel than working in post-production?

More Film News from Variety