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Female Superhero Films, or Where’s My Ms. Marvel Movie?

August 21, 2012

Adi Granov’s variant cover of Captain Marvel #1

Used under Fair Use

So, with this current glut of superhero movies, and recent box-office success of female-led action films like Brave and The Hunger Games, we’re bound to see the ladies of Marvel and DC leaping onto the big screen, right?

Not exactly.

Despite proving to Hollywood that audiences can cope with a female protagonist without their heads exploding at the very idea, and the popularity with which Black Widow and Catwoman have been received, there’s still no announcement of a solely superheroine movie.

I know, I hear you. There’s a ton of films in the works; what do you want, them to bring the entire comic canon to screen?

And I get that; you can’t make every film at once, these things cost money, etc. But Marvel announced four films post-Avengers; and I don’t think it’s too much to ask that maybe one was focused on a female superhero.

This isn’t to put a downer on the future films – I am psyched for Guardians of the Galaxy, a film I never thought we’d see, and I hope to see the Wasp starring alongside Hank Pym in Ant-Man. I’m even looking forward to the Superman reboot. But there is a growing female audience for this kind of stuff (not because the cast of The Avengers were extraordinarily pretty, but because women read comic books) and if they can identify with Captain America and Iron Man, then male fans can probably sit through a whole Wonder Woman flick.

The other questions, I hear you cry, is who? Who is there other than Wonder Woman who’d be suited to this role?

I asked myself this too; as the title suggests, my answer was Ms. Marvel, but I’ve put together a list of five possible candidates for female superhero movies.

Cover of Wonder Woman vol.3, #5 by Terry Dodson & Rachel Dodson
Used under Fair Use

1. Wonder Woman

People have been waiting for Diana to hit the screen for years. Really, I don’t think I even have to justify this one. She’s flipping Wonder Woman. Get this kickass babe into our cinemas, DC – drag one of the projects out of Development Hell, or start a new one.

And if you’re worried about the ‘Amazonian princess’ being too cheesy? Don’t be. People loved Captain America, for God’s sake. If The Avengers taught us anything, it’s that audiences can simultaneously love Tony’s Stark hilarious cynicism, and Steve ‘I-don’t-like-bullies’ Roger’s sense of what’s right and wrong.

We’ve had the age of gritty, dark knight heroes. It’s time to bring back the Lasso of Truth. People will love it. (Also Wonder Woman doesn’t look nearly so silly now that she wears trousers, so, there’s that).

2. Spider-Woman

Far from just ‘a female Spider-Man’, Jessica Drew has such a varied backstory you could probably pick and choose several different movie ideas out of it. Just her initial origin story of learning to fit in when she’s suddenly been aged up to seventeen and hardly spent time with humans before could be a great teen film.

Add in all her dilemmas about working for HYDRA and you have a much more complicated character than ‘Spidey with boobs’.

3. Batgirl

There have been a few Batgirls over the years, and all of them could probably hold a film, but my choice has to be Barbara Gordon. She was a great Silver Age character and feminist icon, but you could also use a Batgirl film within DC’s relaunch, The New 52, looking at how Barbara copes with her PTSD and having recently recovered from her paralysis.

Which is not to say you couldn’t make a great movie with her as the Oracle. It’d take a lot of work, because she’s not exactly running around and kicking ass, but I think an investigation into how a disabled character exists in a superhero universe could be turned into an interesting movie.

4. Captain Marvel

Cover of Captain Marvel 1 by Mark D. Bright
Used under Fair Use

You know what we need even more than female superheroes? Black superheroes. War Machine’s fun, but there are rumours of Falcon and Black Panther turning up in later films, and no one wants a Luke Cage movie more than I do (seriously, you want a comedy? Forget Ant-Man, Luke Cage is all you need).

But what do we need even more than POC superheroes? WOC superheroes. That’s right, I’m talking about Monica Rambeau as Captain Marvel. It’s frightening how few black women we see in Hollywood, especially in a role like this, and this is a perfect opportunity to introduce Monica to the world.

And on a personal note, I think her superpowers are awesome and fairly uncommon. Your SFX team would probably have a blast.

5. Ms. Marvel

I couldn’t resist.

Her backstory and origin is a little tough, with all the alien conflict you’d have to introduce, and she’s flitted around quite a few of the Marvel superhero teams. Not to mention a lot of her more iconic superpowers are abilities she got as Binary…

Cover of Ms. Marvel vol.2, #1 by Frank Cho
Used under Fair Use

So Carol Danvers is mostly on this list for fun. Because she’s awesome. And out of all the women I’ve mentioned, she’s the one that most looks like she could actually beat you up. Seriously, look at those thighs.

Her character arc in the comics has kind of gone all over the place, and she’s really coming into her own recently as the new Captain Marvel; but I see no reason why a characterisation closer to the Ms. Marvel from Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes couldn’t be used for a film version instead. She’s certainly a fun, popular character from the cartoon series, a great role-model, and one tough cookie.

And those are just a few ideas. The ladies from the Justice League could do with a bit of love, and Batwoman is the perfect opportunity to start getting LGBT superheroes onto the big screen. I can’t be the only one who wants a Catwoman or Elektra film done right, and since The Avengers, who doesn’t want to see Black Widow and Hawkeye have their own buddy movie? (Come on, what happened in Budapest?)

Hope is on the horizon – DC do occasionally make noises about that so-called Wonder Woman film – and it’s been announced that Joss Whedon is doing a Marvel live-action TV series. There are rumours that, without the licensing laws that affect films, this TV series could feature Spiderman and X-Men characters as cast members – and it seems like a great time for Whedon to show off his skill at writing female characters by dragging a few lesser-known heroes back into the light.

Here’s hoping. (Also, I really recommend the related links this time; they’re all super interesting).

Related Links:

Nostalgia Chick’s ‘The Worst (And Least Awful) Female Superhero Movies‘ [VIDEO]

Moviebob’s The Big Picture ‘All The World Is Waiting‘ [VIDEO]

Pathetic Avengers Fangirl’s ‘Marvel Comic-Con Reaction

Pathetic Avengers Fangirl’s ‘Six Avengers I Want to See on Film (and One I Don’t)’

Pathetic Avengers Fangirl’s ‘Dear Marvel: More Women, Please?

The Escapist: ‘Joss Whedon Signs on for Avengers 2, Marvel TV Series

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. August 22, 2012 4:01 pm

    At one point IMDb listed writers for the apparently in-the-works Wonder Woman movie that included one of the guys who wrote the Green Lantern film. I raged for hours. But really, I don’t think we’ll get any good DC films that aren’t Batman for years. DC /Warner Bros seem waaaaaaay too focused on being all “mature” and keep making stupid decisions. Marvel films at least know how to have fun.

    But then again, Marvel seem to not want to risk a superheroine film either. Which is a real shame, although other than the ones you list above, I can’t think of many Marvel superheroines that aren’t tied to properties Marvel don’t have the film rights to. Well, other than Wasp and Lady Sif, I guess who they might use? They’re tied to Ant-Man & Thor after all.

    I still don’t get why they never addressed why they weren’t using War Machine in the Avengers film. Powers of Iron Man and none of the personality problems, he was perfect for the team. Even a line from Stark to Fury like “I don’t like that you’ve sent Rhodes off fighting your battles in [insert place here]” something.

    • August 22, 2012 4:24 pm

      Yeah, I think the only thing worse than No Wonder Woman Movie is a Bad Wonder Woman Movie. DC keep making noises about rebooting everyone on screen for a Justice League flick, but given the way Green Lantern bombed maybe they’re reconsidering :/ Which sucks because as much as I’m a Marvel kid, I would love the hell out of a JLA film (or, even better, Teen Titans…I should have put Starfire on the list…) And God knows what they’re doing with Batman post-Nolan…

      I do understand that a ton of popular Marvel ladies are X-Men characters, so you can’t use them – but there’s no reaon not to drag some more obscure characters out and dust them off. Much as I love Wasp and Lady Sif, I think it’d be hard for them to carry a whole film (especially as Sif is more like the Warriors Three in the Thor film, and less, you know, Queen of the Valkyries). I nearly added Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver as a buddy movie option, but you’d have to omit any mention of them being mutants, or being Magneto’s kids. So, awkward, I admit.

      As for War Machine, I never saw Iron Man 2 (I know, I know, I’m getting on it…), but I think in the comics they usually get around it by him being on loan to the military all the time. Iron Man handles stuff at home, whilst War Machine is actually out in the front lines. That and then they chuck him into the West Coast Avengers with Hawkeye, but we don’t talk about that. Rhodey usually only takes over when Tony is incapable of being Iron Man (ie. drinking like a fish). But there’s no reason we can’t have a Rescue film, right? Maybe they’re planning on adding her in Iron Man 3?

      • August 22, 2012 4:35 pm

        I did give thought to how I’d do a JL film, and my first and most firm decision was NO BATMAN FILM. I’d do a film for one of his sidekicks, like Nightwing, Robin, Blackbat or Batgirl. Then you can have Batman in it, but we don’t have to have another Batman origin story. Also, I’d have Mr Freeze as the villian so he can turn around and help the JL in the film cause he’s not really evil.

        Also I’d really really really really really love a good Cyborg film, so I’d put him in my JL lineup. I’d also really want to put in Hawkgirl, Aquaman and Flash. And I’d probably use Brainiac as the big villain for them all.

        • August 22, 2012 4:45 pm

          I’d still prefer a Teen Titans films over a Justice League, but either way, I think having a Nightwing movie to lead into instead of Batman would be great. People know Batman. They know Superman (and Man of Steel is coming out soon anyway). But they need to know Hawkgirl and Aquaman and dude, FLASH. Great JL line-up. I’m guessing Wonder Woman was already a given.

          Brainiac would work as a villain, especially if you’re trying to get away from the gritty aesthetic, because he’s still a bad guy but also a ton of fun and kind of ridiculous.

          And dear Lord, how we need a Cyborg film. I wanted to do a post on possible black superhero films but didn’t want to come across as ‘hey look a white chick talking about racism, sure’ – but if I did, Cyborg would be at the top of my list. And then Luke Cage. Because Luke fucking Cage.

          • August 22, 2012 4:51 pm

            Yeah Wondie would get in there, and I wouldn’t even try Green Lantern until after the first big JL film because after the train wreck that was the GL film that shit is rightfully toxic. I do worry that having Wondie and Hawkgirl in the same film would seem a little redundant though? Both strong flying smashy warrior ladies. But then again, I spose it’s better than having another strong flying smashy warrior /guy/.

            Look at me, my JL film plans are srs bzns.

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