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Hey you guys, remember when I asked where the Wonder Woman movie was? Crazy times. With her confirmed inclusion into Batman v. Superman, the sequel to the smash hit Batman v. The Board of Education, her own movie is all but assured. I think. Maybe. The odds are better than a year or two ago, at least.
However, this raises a point that’s been raised many… many times before. Why aren’t we seeing more female superhero movies?
Well according to Marvel Movie Mastermind Kevin Feige it’s because Marvel is “too busy right now” to do one. Which I suppose I can understand on some level. They have, like, a dozen movies planned out to when I’m nearly in my 30s, so it’s probably hard to jam a new movie in there just because of fan request. But do we really need, say, a Captain America 4? Can’t we delay an Ant-Man sequel a year or two for a Black Widow movie? No? Well… I guess Kev.
So, okay, why don’t we have at least one modern female comic book movie in this era of comic book everything? I’m not completely sure. However, let me bounce a few things off you.
Comic books started nearly a century ago. As such, they’ve long struggled with things like racism and sexism. It’s practically ingrained in the medium. They are getting better, slowly, but it’s hard to deny that problems have existed and in some cases continue to.
The beauty of the film adaptation is that you can edit out all the embarrassing parts. You polish the stories and show all the great parts of it. Superman can start off saving everyone of all cultures without the whole “racist toward Japanese people” part comics slogged through in the 40s.
It seems, however, that comic book movies are struggling with the same kind of issues. Obviously, we’re not getting horrific racial stereotypes, but I mean look at MCU, does anyone else notice a weird pattern going on?
Not that these aren’t awesome characters, it’s just that there doesn’t seem to be a non-white character in the MCU that rises above sidekick/side character. Which, in fairness, will probably change. I don’t know, maybe that’s just me reading too far into it.
But it goes to show you that these issues still exist in movies, and casting lady characters aside is no different.
Do I think it’s sexism? Powerful Old White Men forcing patriarchy on the masses? Um… no, I don’t think so. I think it’s mostly a business decision. After all, nothing beats ideology like money. So knowing the movie business, there’s good and bad news for a female superhero movie…
Did you guy know that there was a Daredevil spin-off? There was!
Yes, they made an Elektra movie! That’s right, a female superhero movie! And it’s… it’s pretty bad. No, not because it’s a female protagonist, it’s just… I don’t know. Meh. And it bombed. Hard. Both critically and financially.
Now you have to understand that, as a studio executive, making a movie is like gambling. You have to make a bet on what audiences will respond to. Oh, and you’re waging hundreds of millions of dollars, not to mention your own job. Oh, and you have to do this many times a year. So whatever you can do to make the odds as much in your favor as possible, you’ll do.
What this means is that when a movie like Elektra bombs, they really don’t want to make another movie like Elektra. Hell, Fox didn’t touch any of their Daredevil properties for so long after Elektra, the rights reverted back to Marvel. I’m not saying this movie killed any chance for a lady superhero movie, but it definitely helped.
Don’t get down! There are two sides to this coin. Sure, when things do poorly, they stop making those things, but when things do well, they start making a ton of those things! After all, how many young adult novels have been made into movies thanks to The Hunger Games?
Luc Besson’s Lucy, a female-driven superhero-ish scifi action movie, was a surprise hit this summer, making over 300 million dollars on a 40 million dollar budget. That’s a big deal. It shows a female superhero movie has more than just an audience, it’s profitable.
Not only that, it showed it could be profitable without having to flaunt lady parts. And I love lady parts! So not only could we get a Black Widow movie that’s a complex spy-thriller, but we could get a Black Widow movie that’s a complex spy-thriller without the need to have a scene where Scarlett Johansen fights dudes in her underwear! That’s rea–waitaminute…
So why has Marvel and DC been so quiet on this front? Well I’m not entirely sure about DC, but I’ve got an idea about Marvel.
“Women are a powerful demographic,” they say, “they’re over half the population!” Marvel would be fools not to take advantage of that! They seem willing to shake up the formula, why not make this obvious decision?
Well I think it’s because they’re now owned by Disney. Why does that matter? Because of this:
For years, Disney was notoriously looking to corner the young male market. They had the female market on lock for decades. But by buying Marvel, they made it so that they’ll never have to worry about young males ever again. Finally, Disney got everything they wanted.
So you can talk about all the money they’re “missing out on” and the audiences they’re not getting to, but it’s all nonsense. Disney makes a killing on their Princess stuff, I mean Frozen is the most profitable animated movie of all time, and then they have all the earnings from the Marvel movies (Guardians of the Galaxy, as of writing this, has now had its 4th week at number 1 at the box office. Something only Avatar and The Hunger Games have done previously).
So when Kevin Feige says they’re “too busy” to make a female superhero movie, it’s just a polite way of saying it’s a departure from the working formula that Disney has no need to do. It sucks, but that’s business for you.
Speaking of business…
DC’s eternal struggle: to separate themselves from Marvel. Indeed, they could do it via jokeless, gritty, dark comic book movies, but I think their biggest strength comes with their diversity. I think, on some level, they understand this. I mean, they cast Jason Momoa as Aquaman. If you’re not familiar with Aquaman, well… Momoa doesn’t exact match the traditional profile…
Wonder Woman is another huge advantage for them. Marvel doesn’t have a super popular female character to bring out. When audiences get tired of watching Cap, Thor, and characters who are just different variations of Tony Stark run around on screen, Wonder Woman can be something new to move on to.
There’s been recent news that a Supergirl TV show is in the works. Which is a start. However, Marvel has a Jessica Jones Netflix show already being produced. Weird that they’re pressing female characters on the small screen, right? Maybe not. What we could be seeing is a kind of trial run to see how popular these female characters can be. Afterall, Wonder Woman owes some of her popularity to a TV show in the 70s. Perhaps they’re trying to repeat their success that way? Only time will tell.
But what do you think? What’s keeping female superhero stories out of the theaters?