This may seem like an odd time to call Hollywood out on their unfair treatment of women in the super heroic industry when we’re getting both Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman in the coming years. But it is perhaps worth noting that Marvel is lumping their female lead in with the other weird dregs such as their x-men replacement now that they’ve finally given up on ever getting the rights back, the out and out wizard who fights demons from another dimension and the black guy who may will lead a movie without being played by Will Smith or Samuel L Jackson. Meanwhile DC are pushing Wonder Woman ahead, partly because they keep claiming she is part of the “trinity” while actually doing fairly little with her and simply so they can beat Marvel to something. And lastly we have Sony who are maybe, considering doing something female lead simply because they honestly have no idea what to do at the moment. Heck not too long ago they batted the idea around of an Aunt May solo movie, they have officially just started throwing doo-doo at the wall at this point.
So the question becomes why haven’t we seen any female led movies thus far and perhaps the first argument from the purists would be that there aren’t any women around in the beginning, well ignoring Wasp, who is the only core female member from the original squad (yes Captain America is now retroactively considered part of the original team, deal with it) and she is only there to help her husband who has had enough trouble getting himself to screen they would be right. I mean look at the X-men movies they would have dedicated half their line up to women if they hadn’t decided to make it all about ol’ muttunchops mary sue himself instead and just had the x-men follow him around going “ooohhh Logan you’re so cool”. So now the argument will come that we have moved on from the days of the classic line up of Avengers and they now have plenty of women to choose from.
The second argument is that the women are all c-list at best and thus couldn’t carry their own movie. Well ignoring Wonder Woman, who DC keep telling us is so A-list that she can not be reduced to a cameo, they would probably be right they are mostly c-list. However before Robert Downy Jr appeared on our screens as Iron Man I recall someone who loved the old Spiderman cartoon and Adam West Batman, wondering if “Spiderman’s robot friend would be able to carry his own movie.” Aside from the Hulk I would argue that all Marvel has are B and C listers. It’s hard to picture it now but not too long ago not everyone in the world knew who Tony Stark was. And of course the ultimate defense against this is the movie about the talking tree and Raccoon flying through space.
So why haven’t we had a female led superhero movie?
Well despite the fact that Super-heroes are currently the biggest and best selling toys in town that was not always the case. Batman and Superman have always fared pretty well, Spiderman has always earned his keep in toys and Wolverine managed to earn break out success somewhere along the line. Marvel only managed to get their foot in the door by making sure their logo was in front of Spidey and the X-Men, bankrolling themselves and casting Robert Downy Jr as Robert Downy Jr. Otherwise it’s doubtful they would have gotten off the ground. So you ask why didn’t we get Cpt Marvel in the first wave instead of say Thor and another Hulk movie that we were only going to pretty much ignore anyway and my answer has nothing to do with the fanboys. My argument is that Marvel was on some pretty thin ice, they could only make a few mistakes which is why they chucked them all into the sequel to their breakout hit. Women, like black leads and Adult ratings are an unknown and as the old saying goes if it aint broke, don’t fix it.
Women have had their own superhero movies before and pretty much all of them have bombed. The two big ones I shall be focusing on, simply because they help my point the most, are Supergirl and Catwoman. In fact forget Supergirl, let’s just focus on Catwoman. As far as every exec in Hollywood is concerned that should have been a hit. They had name recognition, a tie to one of the most stable and reliable earners of the superhero genre and a big name actress. The only thing they did different as far as they can see was have a female lead. Thus logically that must be the reason it failed.
Now you and I know that it failed because it was bad, even Halle Berry knows that. But this is coming from people who have seen it, do you think the fat cats behind their desks saw the movie, of course not as far as they are concerned it was all buzz words on a white board they added together and expected profit to spew forth.
“Comic book + big lead + big budget = profit”
This is made all the worse by each super hero movie having to outdo the last in terms of budget. Look at Spiderman 2, not too long mind. Now it could have been a decent movie but they decided that our friendly neighbourhood Spiderman needed a budget to match the world shaking Avengers and thus the tent pole for their franchise has fallen down in some comedic manner leaving them all scurrying around as bumps under the canvas.
Many have pointed out Hollywood’s over reliance on sequels, reboots and adaptations and this is just another symptom. After all look at the Young Adult genre which is over flowing with female leads because Twilight did it and that sold like hot cakes. Not to mention the fact that Hunger Games blew up the world with it’s female lead meaning we now have to sit through divergent maze runners in the city of bones.
I put it to you that Hollywood is not sexist, at least not in this case, they are just lazy and greedy. They want sure fire hits that will allow them all to Scrooge McDuck someday in their own money bin. They don’t want to alienate anybody that will give them money but they don’t want to take risks either.
Way back in the heady days of the mid-nineties Star Trek was doing very well for itself both on t.v, in movies and in books. In fact they had recently decided to try out hardbacks and these were doing very well indeed. By the time they reached the eleventh hardback they figured they could do no wrong and decided to give new comer Deep Space Nine a shot. The result was Warped. Now as this is not a review of warped I shall be brief but it was not very good. This is the reason it tanked. Every fan who had sat through it knew this but Pocket books hadn’t sat through it. As far as they were concerned the only difference between this and say Dark Mirror was that this was Deep Space Nine. Thus we didn’t get another Deep Space Nine hardback until 2003. They were not anti-Deep Space Nine they just wanted to print only what they knew would make them the most money especially if it was going to cost them. We are only getting female heroes now that Guardians has shown the studios that we will accept something new and surprising and that Marvel doesn’t have too many big name men left.