Iron Man has been out for a few weeks now to generally positive reviews. Though when it comes to the character of Pepper Potts, we have seen some difference of opinion.
I should warn that these links all contain spoilers for the movie.
Lisa at PunkAssBlog was displeased at the use of the character.
Oh, but what about Pepper Potts? Well, she certainly was held up and epitomized as the Ideal Female–the main bad guy outright tells her this about three-quarters of the way through the movie: “You’re a rare woman, Pepper. Tony doesn’t know how lucky he is!” And that’s about the sickest part, because what she is is the perfect mistress–not even a wife, because a wife does have some modicum of legal and financial power in a relationship, and the movie makes it absolutely crystal-what Pepper is is the perfect woman. If they’ve never had sex, it’s only because he hadn’t yet gotten around to telling her to strip and spread ‘em, which she would of course passively (and reluctantly, because it was Wrong! but eagerly, because she Loves Him!) obey. He can’t live without her! Because who else would schedule his meetings, get his dry cleaning, fix his coffee, and sweetly flub everything of cinematic importance she is cast to do on except when he’s on the phone with her giving her exact, minute, step-by-step instructions what to do. She never complains, except very passive-aggressively and with the shyest smile. And she validates him not once but twice in his total misogyny–she’s actually the only one who ever outright calls one of his easy conquests a slut and she tells him how he is with “girls” is “fine, of course!” It’s really hard to believe she’s even the model of domestic efficiency she’s painted to be, as she’s clearly dumb as a stump: “I can’t! You’ll die!” she shrieks when he tells her to blow something up, even though it’s clear to a two-year-old that if she does absolutely nothing he’ll die even faster.
Livejournalist Innerbrat defends the portrayal of the character.
Pepper was amazing on so very many levels: and I’m the person these days who sits back and looks for problems from a feminist front. I wanted to get angry and bitter, but I couldn’t. And when I got back and looked at reaction posts, I found everything I had to say nicely summed up on the Hathor Legacy. Pepper has the narrative role of being the non-heroic foil to Tony Stark: the Alfred to his Batman, the Xander to his Buffy, the Ando to his Hiro, and- actually, I can’t think of a female example, although maybe season 1 and 2 Willow comes close. Neither sidekick nor damsel, she rejects the role of love-interest because Tony’s not just her boss, but also a well established womanising jerk, and she shows her contempt for women who let him treat them like that very early on.
She has her flaws – the most significant one being that she’s so fond of an utter git like Tony Stark – but she makes up for them by being so invaluably sensible in everything except not taking off her watch and gold ring before performing open heart surgery near a powerful electromagnet.but you can’t have everything.
While livejournalist Tiredfairy also likes the character with one small caveat.
I do have one other quibble about Iron Man, and it’s Pepper Potts. Not her character, really, who I thought was fine. She’s awkward and funny, forgets to put on deodorant (wow, a human flaw!), and doesn’t like having to stick her hand in her bosses chest, but does it anyway. We don’t see her a lot, and hey, it’s Iron Man not The Adventure of Pepper Potts. And she didn’t end up being the damsel in distress…she came close, but they narrowly avoided it. And anyway, Iron Man was doing what he needed to do regardless…her being in danger wasn’t his motivation for action. And that’s definitely a step up.
My only problem was…her shoes. Seriously. You can not run away from a giant maniacal robot over grates in 6 inch stiletto’s. Your foot is going to get caught, your ankle is going to break, something. I’m not saying she needs to be in granny shoes, but some killer boots wouldn’t have been remiss. I know, leave it to a girl to get hung up on an item of fashion…but come on folks. Details like that really can snap you out of your suspension of disbelief. Because it just makes no sense. I’ve worked in NYC, I have seen women get those kinds of shoes stuck in subway grates. And none of them can manage a full on run in ‘em. They force a particular kind of stiletto shamble I find vaguely silly. But I digress.
So what do you think?