For a long while now, there’s been talk about the various reasons why Marvel is concerned about making a superhero movie with a female main character. There are plenty of fantastic female Marvel heroes and surely any one of them would make a great movie. This isn’t a new debate; there was talk for decades, and still is, about why DC/Warner Bros haven’t given Wonder Woman her own film seeing as she’s the third prong in the comics company’s trinity of most famous characters. Then I saw an article on io9 quoting an interview from Spinoff Online which talks about how there was almost a Black Widow movie made before the first Iron Man. I stress the word “almost.”
The quote taken from screenwriter David Hayter, who wrote the first X-Men movie and co-wrote X2, talks about his ultimately unused Black Widow screenplay.
“Unfortunately, as I was coming up on the final draft, a number of female vigilante movies came out. We had Tomb Raider and Kill Bill, which were the ones that worked, but then we had BloodRayne and Ultraviolet and Aeon Flux. Aeon Flux didn’t open well, and three days after it opened, the studio said, “We don’t think it’s time to do this movie.” I accepted their logic in terms of the saturation of the marketplace, but it was pretty painful.”
As io9’s Lauren Davis points out in her rebuttal, “So one female-led action movie flops and it’s because of “the saturation of the marketplace”—and not because Aeon Flux was a crummy movie?”
I’ll go one step further. The fact that in 2003-2004 there were five (yes, FIVE) movies starring women as action heroes was seen to be too many by studio executives is somehow completely acceptable? How about all the billions of testosterone-pumping action movies that come out every ten seconds? How about how there were TWO movies about asteroids striking the Earth that came out the same SUMMER, but that wasn’t over-saturating the enormous end-of-the-world marketplace?
The main fear seems to be that men and boys aged 13-49 won’t go see a superhero movie, or an action movie at all I guess, starring a woman, which is a liar-liar-pants-on-fire situation. I’m a male who sits directly within that age bracket and not only would I see a good movie based on any of the dozen female superhero characters that exist, but I WANT to go see them. I want there to be a bunch of them out there that I can see. Why? Because good characters are good characters regardless of what genitalia they have.
Now, I say “good” movie based on these characters because, as Davis mentioned, a lot of them that have been made are flatly terrible. Supergirl, Elektra, Catwoman, and the aforementioned Aeon Flux were truly awful, stupid movies, but is that the character’s fault, the fault of the actresses, or the fault of the script and direction? It’s not the character’s fault, I’ll tell ya that, and in most of the cases it isn’t the actress. The problem is, for whatever idiotic reason, the people behind the scenes feel like, in order to make a female superhero work, the movies have to be intensely campy. I mean, because men wouldn’t take a serious movie seriously if it had a GIRL as the lead, right? That’s ridiculous ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
We live in a world now where comic book superhero movies are taken so incredibly seriously that they’re hailed as some of the best movies of the year in a lot of cases, but we can’t get a solo Wonder Woman or Black Widow movie, or a movie featuring Captain Marvel at all, made by people who know what the hell they’re doing? It’s impossibly frustrating to know not only that there’s a huge well of stories to pull from, some excellent producers, writers and directors who would do the property justice, and some phenomenally talented actresses who could EASILY carry a movie, but that there’s a whole swath of moviegoers who would eat them up with a spoon simply because some care has been put in.
This summer, Lucy, a weird little sci-fi action movie based on no existing property, made almost $400,000,000 worldwide, but Scarlett Johansson can’t carry a Black Widow movie? How awesome was she and the character in Captain America: The Winter Soldier? The answer is “very.” In her case especially, an actress who’s played a character now in three different movies, with a fourth to be released next year, she has more than proved her ability to get the character and perform the action required.
I want a Captain Marvel movie perhaps more than any other superhero property at the moment. Carol Danvers is a character I think the film-going audience deserves to see and right now, with Marvel at the height of their powers, can make such a movie properly. She’s one of the strongest Marvel characters, regardless of gender, and another space-based hero after the success of Guardians of the Galaxy would surely make tons of money. As long as they call her “Captain” and not “Ms.” then I think everything is prepped and the audience is ready to go. It’s CAPTAIN effing MARVEL! Name recognition for days!
Different company, but similar prospect: Wonder Woman gets a glorified cameo in ANOTHER movie starring Batman and Superman? This character has been so underutilized historically there should actually be some kind of court case. Save for the ’70s television show, a failed (and horribly ill-advised) pilot from a few years ago, and a direct-to-video animated film, she has never had the kind of solo franchise she so deserves. What’s the issue here? Don’t put a meat-head bro-dawg in charge of a Wonder Woman movie, or the character at all, and good things WILL happen. It’s so sad the Joss Whedon script never came to fruition, but he can’t possibly be the only one out there who can do the character justice, or the only one who wants to.
And, yes, I’ll say it: women who read comics (which is an UNFATHOMABLY HIGH NUMBER given how underrepresented they are) deserve to see themselves represented onscreen. Women in comic books are often drawn to appeal to the male gaze, but in the last several years they’ve been written by men and women who overcome that and make the characters emotionally and intellectually interesting. Natasha Romanoff can glower and self-doubt and brood just as well as Tony Stark and everybody who likes these characters knows that. It would be nice if they got a movie that wasn’t unmitigated garbage. But, when we live in world where the number of women working behind the scenes in film and television are going down and not up, so perhaps it is the safer bet to keep appealing only to men… the stupid, callow, and annoyingly safe bet.
So, to sum up, I don’t care about an Ant-Man movie, the idea of more Batman and Superman is boring; why would I happily go see more of the same when so many great characters exist right there for the adapting? Take a risk, Hollywood. Give some superheroines the chance to shine, because maybe if you make enough, I won’t have to call it a “risk” anymore.
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