EDITORIAL: Female Superheroes Deserve Their Own Blockbuster Movies!
A guy's perspective on the shocking lack of well done big screen adaptions for female comic book superheroes. My thoughts on why movie studios are hesitant, what superheroines would translate well to the big screen, and why comic book companies are missing out on such an important demographic, women!
Before I start, I would like to give a very special thanks to JULEZ13 for proof reading my article and correcting my spelling/grammar mistakes. Also, for her great encouragement to publish it.
I am a guy who is writing about why female superheroes deserve more attention on the big screen. If that is interesting and/or somehow funny to you, well you might be surprised at how good of a read I have on this. With me being a guy, I truly hope I do my best in representing how female comic book fans feel about this subject and why it is so important to them, and girls in general. I was inspired to write this editorial after replying to a fellow CBMer(a female member) about the serious lack of great female superhero movies. I did a long rant, and felt I had much more to say on this surprising issue. Why is it so hard to translate such great, iconic female comic book characters on the big screen?
Well, unfortunately, female comic book characters have had their share of trouble in their own solo outings: Supergirl, Tank Girl, Catwoman, Elektra, and Aeon Flux. Some of the casting choices for the lead characters were good, but everything else was a mess. Not only were those movies critically panned, but they also performed poorly at the box office. Movie studios see this, and think there isn't enough demand to justify making a solo full-length feature film about a female comic book character. This is where in fact, these movie studios couldn't be more wrong. While those movies about comic book characters didn't do well, action movies with lead female characters did. This is only a small amount of ass kicking females whose movies did well: The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Alien, Aliens, Tomb Raider, Kill Bill Vol. 1, etc.
These movies did well because they were well written, casted, produced so on and so forth. I included Tomb Raider in there because even though it received so-so reviews(I personally thought it was good video game movie adaption), it performed very well at the box office, even enough for Paramount to warrant greenlighting a sequel, Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life(not as good as the first movie). If that same kind of effort could be applied to solo comic book movie adaptions for female superheroes, the movies would fill seats. It's not impossible for a lead female character to headline a movie and have it be great. It has been done before in other genres of films. Now, it's time for movie studios to step up efforts in an area where female characters need it the most, comic book movies!
The Avengers is one of the comic book movies where female characters lived up to their potential. I was really impressed by Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow this time around. She exceeded my expectations and more than made up for her portrayal in Iron Man 2(I blame the script and director, not her). Also, Cobie Smulders did an excellent job as Maria Hill. She's not a superhero, but she is a female character that is an important part of the Marvel Universe. I believe these characters did well because of the actresses playing them and the great scripts. Joss Whedon obviously knows how to write and direct female characters exceptionally well. These are the kind of writers that are needed when it comes to solo female superhero movies. Someone that understands women and can write them as compelling, interesting, and most importantly, relatable. It is when a character is written well that they reach their full potential. Like I said, I really enjoyed the way the female characters were portrayed in The Avengers, but that was a superhero team-up movie, not a solo outing for each respective character.
Now that I pretty much covered that. Here is six female characters from DC and Marvel Comics that I think would be great on the big screen:
She is like the "Rosie the Riveter" of comic books. You ask any girl if they know who Wonder Woman is, they would answer, yes. Wonder Woman is synonymous with strength, beauty, intelligence, confidence, and kicking all kinds of ass. She is an empowering icon for women everywhere. That fact that she hasn't had her own movie yet is beyond me. Actually, Wonder Woman got her own movie in the form of one DC's direct-to-video animated films. The movie was met with good response from fans and critics alike, but I'm talking about a live-action movie adaption here. Long before that, the character even found great success in the mid 70's when she got her own TV show, who was played by the beautiful Lynda Carter. Wonder Woman was even set to get another TV show in 2011, but was cancelled. There is obviously interest in bringing this character to the small screen. Warner Bros. needs to shift their interest into the capacity of a live-action feature film.
The character's origin is connected to Greek mythology. She was granted gifts(powers/attributes) by six Greek goddesses and was born and raised on the island of Themyscira, populated by Amazon residents. Princess Diana was trained to be a warrior for her people. Wonder Woman has foughten creatures and villains both related to Greek mythology and unrelated throughout her long history. I wanted to make the point of saying her origins being connected to Greek mythology because that is one of the many reasons I think the character would translate so well to film. Greek mythology is rich and full of memorable creatures, monsters, and gods. Even the architecture of Greece, both in ancient times and present day, is beautiful and awe-inspiring. Which is the reason it has been used throughout the history of cinema. Movie goers like to see a movie that takes them to another world: Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Avatar, and more recently, Thor. Saying these movies performed very well at the box office would be a massive understatement.
People like movies that take them to fantasy worlds, places beyond their imagination. Themyscira would be one of those places. The ancient Greco-Roman architecture, scenery, fantasy/mystical elements(powers, creatures, Gods) being brought to life would be amazing to see. People would be drawn into Wonder Woman's world. This is something that sets her apart from other female superheroes. Steve Trevor crash landing on Themyscria shakes up Diana's world and leads to her venturing out far beyond her native land. The movie would presumably largely take place in America(East Coast) or Man's World as the Amazons refer to it. The idea of her learning our culture and customs in the real world would be interesting to see; it would be like a "fish out of water" concept. The character has rich, interesting mythos and pathos. I can confidently say, a Wonder Woman movie that is adapted well and sticks to the source material would fill seats. Both comic book fans, and general movie fans would pay money to go see a well adapted, big budget, action packed Wonder Woman movie.
Superman's cousin is Kara Zor-El/Linda Danvers aka Supergirl. Superman is one of the world's most recognized superheroes. He represents truth, justice, and the American way. Pitching a solo movie about someone from the Superman Family shouldn't be that hard. There was actually a Supergirl movie released in 1984 that I mentioned above; however, that movie was meet with bad reception. Helen Slater was a good choice for Supergirl, everything else was just plain bad. Throwing in a villain that isn't from the comics isn't a great start. Thankfully, the character had much better luck on the small screen; during the seventh season (2007-2008), the character was brought on the hit CW show, "Smallville." Where I felt she was adapted well. Kara/Supergirl was portrayed by Laura Vandervoort. I thought she was great in the role. And I wasn't the only one, Laura was only a series regular for the seventh season and came back to appear in more episodes in the three final seasons of 'Smallville.'
Kara had enough of a loyal fan base, that when she as written off the show in the very rushed manner she was, a large number of Smaville fans expressed how upset they were. The character has a lot of fans, and these very same fans would pay money to see Supergirl in a new solo adventure. One that respects the character, and does her justice. Supergirl has been in the comics almost as long as Superman. Supergirl was sent to Earth in a rocket ship, except instead of as an infant like Kal-El, she was a teenager. Kara never had the luxury of being raised on Earth as a child like her cousin, she had to learn about this strange world that was her new home without having been raised on it. That made her fitting in on Earth much more of challenge. Although she didn't get off to a great start, she eventually found her calling, her place here.
Inspired by her cousin, Supergirl became a force for good. Supergirl is a great hero in her own right; going on to become a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes and the Justice League. With release of Man of Steel next year, this would be a good time to give Kara her own movie. Set it in the Man of Steel movie universe(a modern take on Kryptonian mythology) and add some legitimacy to it by having Henry Cavill make a small cameo as Superman. That would have fans geeking out big time, and would draw in a huge crowd. The character has relatability written all over her. Not only has Supergirl earned her right to be a member of the 'Superman Family,' but to get another chance at her own solo movie. The character deserves a movie that truly shows us what The Girl of Steel can do.
Dinah Lance comes from a family of crime fighters. Her father was a police officer, while her mother was the original Black Canary who was a member of the Justice Society of America(the superhero team that started it all). This makes Dinah the second Black Canary. She is one of the greatest fighters in the DC Universe, and has a keen tactical mind. You think being trained in abound 14 different fighting styles is something, think again. In addition to her very impressive martial arts training, she has the power to emit ultrasonic sound waves from her vocal cords, which is appropriately referred to as the "Canary Cry." The ability is activated by her screaming. Her Canary Cry is strong enough to shatter metal, and cause a person's ears to bleed even if she's not directly targeting them. Dinah's means of transportation is her motorcycle. She is a member of Team Arrow, Birds of Prey and has been a member of every branch of the Justice League at one point in time or another. Like I said - she is one of the greatest fighters in the DC Universe.
Dinah is also the love interest of the Green Arrow. I have not heard anything about a Black Canary movie being worked on, but I've heard Warner Bros. is interested in doing a Green Arrow movie. Whether it's the Supermax movie or a whole new movie is yet to be known. When a Green Arrow movie is released, I'm hoping Black Canary will be featured in it because if the movie is well received, that would be a perfect opportunity for them to pen a script for a solo Black Canary movie. The character is no stranger to live-action TV shows. Dinah Lance/Black Canary has appeared on "Birds of Prey"(my apologies for mentioning this show), "Smallville" and counting her upcoming appearance on the CW's take on the Green Arrow, simply titled "Arrow." In 'Arrow', superpowers won't exist in the show's universe. If Katie Cassidy's Dinah Lance ever suits up as Black Canary, it will be sans Canary Cry. As much as that sucks, she'll still have her extensive martial arts training to use in her fight against crime.
On the small screen her Canary Cry was properly brought to life in 'Smallville.' For a production budget of a TV show, it was adapted well in my opinion. With the budget of a huge CBM, it would be that much better. Even though Black Canary is classified as metahuman, she isn't invulnerable, doesn't have super strength, can't run at superhuman speeds and she can't fly. The only superpower she has is her Canary Cry. That coupled with her martial arts training makes her a force to be reckoned with. Her lack of various powers doesn't hold her back from being a valuable asset to whatever team she is assisting. It actually motivates her to work that much harder. Black Canary enjoys a good fight, she is a brawler through and through, a fighter in a literal and figurative sense. On Team Arrow, she is considered the strongest of the group for a reason. Pitching a solo movie about a female martial artist superhero isn't hard. Throw in her Canary Cry and that fact she is a true bad ass(I mentioned she rides a motorcycle), makes it that much easier.
A female Air Force fighter pilot turned ass kicking superheroine. That pretty much writes itself. I would have said "bad ass superheroine", but with Carol Danvers being an USAF pilot, that's already implied. What I think makes Carol Danvers' story so intriguing, is that she was a hero before she gained superhuman abilities. I believe characters in comics have always had the potential to be great. It's usually not until after a tragedy, an accident during a science experiment, or a supernatural occurrence that they realize this. Carol Danvers is someone that has dedicated herself to protecting her country; this is someone who risks their life to keep the United States of America's restricted airspace free of hostile forces. As an Air Force pilot, she prevents enemy aircrafts from launching attacks on the US and the millions of innocent civilians that call it home. This is a true patriot and hero in anybody's book.
She was promoted to the rank of Colonel upon resigning from the Air Force. Her career didn't stop there, in addition to being a former ace fighter pilot for the USAF, she went on to work for the CIA. After that, she was hired as the head security for NASA HQ. No doubt due to her incredible credentials. Working at NASA is where her life would change forever. One of her co-workers at NASA was secretly a Kree alien named Mar-Vell. After saving her life from a Kree Sentry robot that went berserk, which caused the press to dub him "Captain Marvel", the two became involved in a romantic relationship. An enemy of the Kree kidnapped Carol upon learning of their relationship to lure Captain Marvel into a trap. During the rescue, a malfunctioning Kree device exploded and Captain Marvel shielded Carol from the exposed radiation, inadvertently causing Carol to absorb some of Captain Marvel's Kree energy. After recovering from the incident, Carol learned she had gained superpowers. In honor of Captain Marvel, she based the design of her costume on his and became known as Ms. Marvel.
Not contempt with being in Captain Marvel's shadow, Carol set out to become a great superhero in her own right. Despite being a superhero, she is not perfect. Carol has had problems with alcoholism, something she has in common with her fellow Avenger, Iron Man. This is a character that struggles with her own personal issues, something that we could all relate too. We all have our own issues to deal with. This is something that makes someone who could fly without the use of a F-22 Raptor and could emit cosmic energy from their hands - more relatable. Although Ms. Marvel is largely earthbound, she is still an important part of the Marvel Cosmic Universe. With the slate of Marvel movies coming that look to explore the MCU more I can't think of a better time to bring Ms. Marvel on to the silver screen. Her solo movie could also serve as lead-in to Carol becoming the new team member in the The Avengers 2. The team needs more female members anyway, and another Avenger in the fight against Thanos(presumably) couldn't hurt.
Natasha Romanoff is a high ranking intelligence operative for S.H.I.E.L.D., carrying out covert(sometimes not so covert) operations under the codename "Black Widow." Natasha Romanoff is as beautiful as she is deadly. She is proficient in various forms of hand to hand combat, is an expert marksman, a talented computer hacker and is trained in the use of various explosives. That is only just a small amount of what you would see on her dossier. Black Widow has led S.H.I.E.L.D. and even The Avengers in certain missions. Black Widow does a lot of undercover work that has her infiltrating terrorist organizations where in she reports back to Nick Fury all of the vital intel she has gathered; she is an integral part of S.H.I.E.L.D. Before her stint with S.H.I.E.L.D., she worked for Russian intelligence, the KGB. She joined the KGB to further investigate the circumstances of her husband's death, who was reported to have been 'KIA'(killed in action).
The Avengers movie looks to takes ques from her retconned origin where she was enlisted into a covert ops training program as a child. This is very important to bring up because Scarlett Johansson herself has expressed interest in doing a solo Black Widow movie. That gives us an idea of what a spin off movie of Scarlett's Black Widow could possibly be like. I've even heard very recently that a script for a solo Black Widow movie has been completed. I think the movie would greatly benefit being an origin movie as opposed to taking place post-Avengers. When it comes to the greatest spies, Black Widow is among the best, which is saying a lot. For someone to be able to pull one over on The God of Mischief himself, that is a testament to how extraordinary she is despite not being superhuman. I'm sure people who are unfamiliar with her origins would thoroughly enjoy seeing how Natasha Romanoff became the Black Widow. The thing is, her own movie not only needs to be a great comic book movie, but also a great spy movie as well.
Spy movies have been entertaining us for the last fifty years. Thanks to Ian Fleming's hugely popular, suave secret agent known around the world, James Bond. After the less than stellar James Bond movies of the late 90's to early 2000's, the Jason Bourne series was there to pick up the slack. I think what makes these movies so popular is obviously not only the action and great characters, it's also their worlds. Well the world of espionage. This world is fascinating and intriguing because espionage is real, spies actually do exist in real life. That adds a little bit more fun to spy movies, because the idea of being swept into the world of espionage is exciting and isn't entirely impossible. If Marvel Studios could make Black Widow's world as engrossing as 007's or Jason Bourne's, the movie would be a sure fire hit. Black Widow is a fantastic and complex character. All Marvel Studios needs to do is make sure people are drawn into Black Widow's world of espionage.
There have been three different women to fight crime under the name of Spider-Woman in the mainstream Marvel Universe. I'm only talking about one here. I'm talking about the original Spider-Woman, Jessica Drew. When Jessica was a small child, her parent's property was surrounded by large amounts of uranium. After long-term exposure to it, she suffered radiation poisoning. In a bid to save her daughter's life, Johnathan Drew was forced to inject her with an untested serum(made with the blood of different spider species) to reverse the damage and immunize her body to the radiation. She didn't respond immediately to the serum, so her father then sealed her in a genetic accelerator to speed up her treatment. She was in stasis for decades as the cure worked at a slow rate. When she eventually awoke, she had no memories of her past and found herself alone in the world as her parents had mysteriously disappeared. Jessica also discovered she now possessed superhuman abilities.
There was something that always seemed interesting about Spider-Woman, but
I couldn't get into the character. Well, that was until I watched the "Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D." motion graphic novel. I didn't realize how human the character was. Also, Jessica doesn't mess around. In the motion comic she took on two Skrulls and the Thunderbolts team when she wasn't even at her 100% best. That's quite impressive. The story took place after the "Secret Invasion" crossover story arc in the comics, which saw the Skrull infiltrate Earth by posing as members of the superhuman community. The queen of the Skrulls disguised herself as Spider-Woman to infiltrate the ranks of The Avengers. After the Skrull Queen was killed and the rest of the Skrull armada was destroyed, Spider-Woman's return was not as well received as her other fellow heroes. It was the Skrull Queen who had orchestrated the entire invasion and as a result Spider-Woman's reputation was tarnished.
Feeling like a complete outcast due to the aftermath of the Skrull invasion, Jessica leaves the New Avengers and signs on with S.W.O.R.D. Spider-Woman has been through a lot in her history. Usually when characters in comics go through as much as she has, they end up becoming supervillains. Not Jessica Drew though, she has overcome insurmountable odds time and time again to stay on the straight and narrow, a true measure of her character. This is what makes Spider-Woman so great. I wouldn't only classify her as a hero archetype, but also an underdog archetype as well. A lot of people can personify with Jessica Drew because of this. Some of her various powers include secreting pheromones that affect people's emotions, projecting energy blasts(she can control as to whether it is powerful enough to stun or kill), and being immune to all forms of toxins, poisons and drugs. She also is now completely immune to radiation. That's not including her other superpowers who she shares in common with Spider-Man. Spider-Woman is an incredibly appealing character that would adapt well to the big screen.
These are femme fatales whose bad side it would be very unwise to be on. DC and Marvel Comics have a huge library of great female characters that are relatable, interesting, and have a rich fascinating mythology. Now that I've told you which characters I think would work well on the big screen, I'm getting to the final part of my article.
When I mentioned 'Why comic book companies are missing out on an important demographic' in the teaser, I wasn't merely speaking in a financial sense, but also a chance to have a positive impact on women. What I'm talking about exactly is putting female superheroes in the spotlight more often. Characters - whether they're superhuman or not - show that women can kick ass with the best of them. I'm not just speaking in the context of comics books, I'm speaking in terms of real life too.
Most female superheroes are respectable, strong, intelligent, confident, motivated and kick ass, both literally and figuratively. These characters put women in a positive light and send a great message. Superheroes in general are essentially what humankind can be at its best. Comic book movies shouldn't strictly be a boys club, it should be a girls club too. Female characters kicking ass empower women. And I think I speak for a lot of guys when I say this, we like it when girls are kicking ass. We find it bad ass and sexy. Actually, I think both men and and women share the same feelings here.
Girls that might want to give female superhero comics a chance might be turned off by seeing them in revealing costumes on their covers, which I could understand. They probably think that these characters are purely eye candy. Movies for these superheroines would show that they are the real deal; that they are much more than eye candy, which will result in winning back and interesting potential customers in a demographic I assume comic book companies struggle with. These companies making more money means: more comic book series, movies, TV shows, etc. This is a win-win situation for everybody.
I've used various forms of the word "relatable" quite a few times throughout my article. Some guys might be wondering how can they relate to female characters. Well, these characters deal with issues that not only pertain to women, but people in general. Whether you're a guy or girl, who hasn't ever felt lonely, lost, the odds are stacked against them, they can't be taken seriously? People have felt like this at one point in their life or another. These are human issues first. Everybody can relate to these things, which is important to people's viewing experience of these movies because female superheroes deal with these very same things.
I'm not the only guy on here who has been wanting to see female superheroes get there due on the big screen. I've been on here for almost two years, and I've seen many guys make comments that they too would think it would be great for female comic book characters to get their own movies. Both male and female comic book fans want movie studios to step up to the plate. There are big things going on with Marvel Studios as they look to expand their movie universe into the cosmic realm. And Warner Bros. is finally reattempting to move forward with a live-action Justice League and movies of their other superheroes. With all these exciting new movie projects to look forward to I don't want female superheroes to get lost in the shuffle; there is a lot good that can come from these movies. There is a bigger picture here. Female characters have a rightful place in comics and as such, have a rightful place in their own comic book movies.
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