The news that Henry Cavill may be done as DC's big screen Superman is shocking enough, but part of the reason why is quite curious. Two major points were mentioned in the initial report that Cavill would be hanging up the cape. One was an inability to come to terms on a cameo appearance in Shazam! but the other was the claim that making another Superman movie was not a priority for DC and Warner Bros., with the focus currently being on a previously rumored Supergirl movie. While I'm all for a Supergirl film, and the sooner the better, this move seemingly came out of left field, and according to reports from not that long ago, is in very early stages of development. So then, why are DC and WB willing to put all their eggs in this basket? I hope it's not for the reason I think it is.
While the DC movie universe that started with Man of Steel has done, for the most part, really well at the box office, one of the franchise's biggest hits is also the one movie that succeeded the most with critics and fans alike, Wonder Woman. Considering the success that movie had both domestically and internationally, and the way it attracted a segment of the population, that doesn't go to every superhero movie, into the theater, it's obvious why a studio might look to replicate that success. The problem is that if they think they can do that simply by putting more female heroes front and center, they're running a great risk. Wonder Woman wasn't simply successful because it had a female hero. If that was the case, Catwoman would have been box office gold.
It wasn't all that long ago that the conventional wisdom was that nobody wanted to see female superheroes. The original 1980s Supergirl movie was no smash and the same held true for characters like Catwoman and Elektra. Of course, the reason that these movies were not successful had nothing to do with the characters being women, it had to do with the movies being bad. The same holds true in the opposite direction. There hasn't been some massive shift in the moviegoing public that they suddenly want female heroes. We always wanted movies with female heroes. We just happened to finally see a good one.
People absolutely do want to see female superheroes in the same way that they want to see people of color as heroes. The buzz for Wonder Woman and Black Panther was huge before either film actually opened, but if the movies had turned out to be terrible, the box office would have collapsed. Maybe you can get yourself a great opening weekend with the character alone, but after the word gets out you made a bad movie, forget it.
I sincerely hope that DC isn't just trying to cash in on what it sees as a successful trend. Maybe Warner Bros. is going all in on Supergirl because there's a script treatment the studio truly believes is something special and there's an actress lined up who is going to absolutely kill it. Maybe there is a director in the wings with a true vision and so there is confidence that this is the right move. If, however, this is just the same faulty logic that kept female heroes off the screen for so long, then we're going to get a bad Supergirl movie and who knows what faulty conclusion Hollywood will draw from that or how long we'll have to deal with repercussions?