For all the progress comics have made since their inception, there's still many areas where they fall short. Despite its advancement in addressing social issues and its providing of racially diverse heroes, comics are still generally a male-dominated genre.
Sure, publishers are accepting more and more that they have female readers and they're steering away from the misogynistic storytelling of their early comics.
But as I said, for all their progress on the matter of fairness amongst the sexes, there's still a lot more that can be made. The focus of their comics, for the most part, still focus on the male heroes.
For every Ms. Marvel story Marvel puts out, there's six different stories on Spider-man they have on the shelf.
Not only this, but the number of notable female leads publishers choose to focus on is minute at best.
Quick: name me one female super hero!
Did your mind instantly go to Wonder Woman? That's fine, she's a great example of a strong female superheroine.
Batgirl, maybe? Another prime example of a positive superheroine role model.
Now name me 5 other superheroines.
Then 5 more.
If you're struggling to come up with names on the list, then I've made my point.
You could probably come up with a minimum of 10 male heroes to fill the list: Superman, Batman, Spider-man, Ironman, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Flash.
There, 10 male superheroes. And I didn't even have to break into the second-tier heroes.
Don't get the wrong impression. I'm not saying there are no female superheroine stories. To say that would be a discredit to the hard working artists and writers who work diligently put their efforts into great, existing titles.
What I'm trying to get across is that even for all that is being done, there could be more.
More focus could be shifted, more creations of superheroines that would inspire.
A prime opportunity of this is in the film industry.
Right now, superhero films are booming. They're thriving more than they ever have in history and the film industry is finally giving us writers and filmmakers worthy of creating fantastic superhero stories.
No longer do we have the “Daredevil”s, but instead are given “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
And yet, despite this, not one good film with a female lead.
Now, you might be saying to yourself, “Tom, there have already been superheroine movies from both DC and Marvel.”
Too true, Hypothetical-Naysayer-I-Just-Made-Up.
DC have had two female-lead films, “Supergirl”(1984) and “Catwoman”(2004).
And every one of them has been universally hated.
Based on reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, each movie were considered dismal failures that soured the superhero film genre. Supergirl receives an 8%; Catwoman, a 9%; and Elektra bringing up the highest of the three with a 10% approval rating.
One might wonder as to why these films did so poorly. Sure, the finger can be pointed to a lot of things:
Cheesy effects, bad writing, poorly chosen actresses(*Achem*Halle Berry*Achem).
But if you want my honest opinion, I think a major contribution is the times these movies were released in.
When “Supergirl” was released, there had already been three Superman movies, each met with critical success. But superhero movies were still largely a niche genre that only catered to the most prominent of heroes. And they wouldn't receive the kick in the pants from Tim Burton's “Batman: The Movie” until five years later, in 1989.
And then we have “Elektra” and “Catwoman.” Both were released in 2004, just at the dawn of the upswing of superhero movies. I've talked before about how I consider 2000's “X-men” and 2002's “Spider-Man” to be the catalysts of the superhero film fascination, and this remains true.
However, this meant during their wake in the early 2000s, there were a lot of awkward superhero movies. This meant movies that, although having a decent budget and interest, were clunky and/or just bad. Poor director choices, bad actor performances and awkward scripts that tried to maintain the dynamic between comic lore and general fan attraction were all contributing factors.
The film industry was taking their baby steps into the superhero genre, and they were ugly steps.
Two of such ugly steps were “Elektra” and “Catwoman,” who although they featured female protagonists, were still poorly done.
Coincidentally enough, the superhero genre would receive yet another kick in the pants from Batman the following year with “Batman Begins.” Its critical success prompted Marvel to retaliate with its Cinematic Universe, starting with “Iron Man” in 2008.
To me, this is where superhero films really came to head, utilizing proper effects, amazing actors and well constructed writing that brought special attention to character development. The recent surge in ticket sales in superhero movies is a testament to this, which is why I consider this the best time for superhero movies.
And it's also why I consider it time for a good superheroine movie.
This means a battle between Marvel and DC's two prominent female characters: Black Widow and Wonder Woman, respectively.
Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not many people knew or cared about Black Widow. She was an alternate character who'd they would bring in if they needed an espionage storyline or some thrilling tale of deceit. But after Scarlett Johansson took up the role in “Iron Man 2” and then her follow-up performance in “The Avengers,” suddenly Black Widow was a somebody. She was standing toe-to-toe with Iron man, Captain America and Thor as an equal and valued member of the team. Not only this, but her portrayal in film was one of genuine character strength. She was a strong woman capable of exceeding expectations and who had complex, compelling emotions and thoughts. I applaud ScoJo's performance for giving us a female character whom fans can look up to as a positive role model (albeit the whole “Being-a-deadly-assassin” part)
Inversely, DC's trying to match Marvel's success with “The Avengers” by bringing in a setup for the Justice League in “Batman Superman: Dawn of Justice.” This of course means Batman and Superman, but it also means the other members like Aquaman and, above all else, WONDER WOMAN.
Wonder Woman, finally getting a role in a major film?! We've been waiting for this for forever!
We've had umpteenth Batman movies and so many Superman movies, but never a film featuring the mighty Amazonian princess. And it's about time because, let's face it, Wonder Woman is badass. She rips cars apart, flies, and punches out bad guys just as easily as Superman. She also makes it her business distributing justice to Nazis wholesale.
However, our victory is shortened by the fact that, despite being considered a member of equal importance to Batman and Superman in the League, her first film appearance is as a support character where the primary focus are the boys in black and blue.
But I'll reserve further criticism until the film is released.
What I will say is that both of these women represent a strong opportunity to bring a superheroine in a featured film, each for their own reasons.
Black Widow has already been established in film and has been shown as a strong woman capable of getting shit done. To me, she's every bit as capable as Captain America, so why not give her her own movie? Take her out as a supporting character and bring her into the spotlight. We've already seen that Johansson can portray her with the dynamic of being badass, emotionally complex, and morally righteous at her core. Seeing more of that would be fantastic. Plus, she's already been integrated as an equally important Avenger, so why not take the chance?
As for Wonder Woman, the waters are still untested. Because the movie she's featured in has yet to release, there's no telling how she'll come across. They could have her only as a supporting character who takes up arms with the boys or she'll be as much of a contender as the title characters.
It's still unknown.
But what is certain is that she's DC's best chance for a superheroine title character on the silver screen. Out of all DC's characters, Wonder Woman is the most deserving for her own movie. And the recent surge in superhero popularity shows that audiences want to see well done, compelling superhero stories. Why can't it be Wonder Woman?
It all depends on how she's portrayed in Dawn of Justice and how the audience receives her in her film debut.
But let's face it: Wonder Woman's been due for her own movie for a loooooooong time.
Now, both Marvel and DC have movies deadlocked well into 2018. This might be discouraging if not for earlier this year, when due to the positive response from leaked footage, the Deadpool movie was finally green lit and added to Marvel's movie roster.
So I say it's entirely possible to add a Black Widow or Wonder Woman movie into this lineup, or any other superheroines they choose to try out.
The future remains to be seen for superheroines in film, but it's progress I hope to see come to fruition in the next few years.
We can do it!
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