We Need More Female Superheroes!

By Katey Rich 2009-01-06 15:09:09discussion comments
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We Need More Female Superheroes! image
Last year may have been yet another year of the superhero, with both Batman and Iron Man capturing the hearts of moviegoers. But it was also the year of the women. No, not The Women-- thank God. Women came out in droves to see movies specifically targeted at them, and made Mamma Mia! and Sex and the City far, far bigger hits than anyone would have anticipated.

So why not blend the two-- a female superhero! It's not exactly a novel idea. Wonder Woman was a TV success years before other superheroes got big, and even this decade some lady heroes have gotten their own vehicles. OK, OK, most of the female superhero movies were awful, but are we really going to let Elektra and Catwoman be the final word on chicks who kick ass?

I'm writing this because Rope of Silicon's Thera Pitts has brought up the age-old topic, using pictures of female Comic Con attendees as her main image. "In a time when comic book geeks are actually getting laid and cute girls are parading around the convention halls in next to nothing to emulate their favorite superheroines, isnít it a little sad that us girls have yet to have a quality superhero moment on celluloid?"

She then lays out her argument by targeting some the directors who have made superhero movies in the last decade, including Christopher Nolan (why not Talia Al Ghul?) and Sam Raimi (in short, what the fuck did you do to Mary Jane?) Even Bryan Singer, who was handed a whole bevy of kick-ass ladies with the first two X-Men movies, is targeted-- "he gave the ladies powers in the X-Men series, he just forgot the personalities."

I can't do much more than agree with Pitts, while also glumly concluding things aren't going to change any time soon. Even Joss Whedon, who knows his way around awesome heroines better than anyone, has struggled for years to get his Wonder Woman movie off the ground. And the Hollywood mania for copying successful things and ignoring everything else means that Elektra and Catwoman won't be revisited any time soon.

Even Mamma Mia! and Sex and the City probably won't be helping matters, despite how well they proved that female moviegoers do exist (how pathetic is it that that had to be proved?) Those movies were much more about romance and clothes and girltalk than anything truly empowering; suffice it to say a movie starring the femme version of Bruce Wayne wouldn't exactly be a silly night out with your girlfriends. And given the likely industry-wide trend toward darker superhero stories, a funny female superhero just doesn't seem possible any time in the near future.

Sally Jupiter and her daughter Laurie may be able to fix this. As the female component of the anti-heroes in Watchmen, they may not be able to draw in the lady audiences, but they may be evidence that there is room for women in crime-fighting circles, and not just as the victims ready to be saved. They'll have limited company, including Hellboy's Liz Sherman and The Fantastic Four's Sue Storm. But if Watchmen is a success, it'll surely be lumped with The Dark Knight as the avant garde of darker, more politically-aware superhero movies, which would leave the likes of the Fantastic Four and Hellboy in the dust. At least Watchmen lets some girls in on the new wave.

But something tells me instead we'll have darker versions of the Green Lantern, darker versions of Superman, sticking to the male-centric kind of stories that have been guaranteed moneymakers. Because superhero movies are expensive to make, and women, however stupidly, are still seen as a gamble. We ladies will still come out to see Batman and Iron Man and the Green Hornet and whoever else comes next, but we'll always be searching for Wonder Woman or Catwoman, waiting in the wings.

Comic book geeks, help me out-- who are some female superheroes who would be well-suited to the dark and gloomy trend in superhero movies? Or which ones are there in general who deserve their chance on the big screen?
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