Charlie’s Angels Director Elizabeth Banks Thinks Female-Centric Superhero Movies Succeed Because They’re In A ‘Male Genre’

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in 2017 movie
(Image credit: (Warner Bros))

In recent years, female-led blockbusters have been breaking box office records and taking names. Between comic book adaptations Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel to Rogue One or Mad Max: Fury Road, high-profile movies starring women at the forefront have finally started to break ground. In light of Charlie’s Angels big box office flop this weekend, the action-comedy’s writer/director/producer has some blunt thoughts about why those properties have been able to find success with huge audiences. Here’s what Elizabeth Banks said:

They’ll go and see a comic book movie with Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel because that’s a male genre. So even though those are movies about women, they put them in the context of feeding the larger comic book world, so it’s all about, yes, you’re watching a Wonder Woman movie but we’re setting up three other characters or we’re setting up Justice League.

Time to rethink every stride in female representation in the past few years? The actress-turned-filmmaker does have an interesting point to make here. She’s attributing the success of movies such as Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel breaking ground due to their ties to larger universes being established. Both movies preceded highly-anticipated team-up movies such as Justice League and Avengers: Endgame – which each prevalently star male heroes.

The Star Wars franchise has also made a point to heavily feature females at the center of their new stories – between Daisy Ridley’s Rey in the new trilogy or Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso in Rogue One. But it is Star Wars. Elizabeth Banks’ words to the Herald Sun challenge a genuine interest in blockbusters starring women. She thinks those movies are successful because they have a “male genre” to lean on. When it comes to Charlie’s Angels, the motivation for a huge audience to buy tickets apparently isn’t there.

Elizabeth Banks has been vocal in recent weeks about her feelings on a Hollywood double standard. She was asked to defend her Charlie’s Angels reboot by reminding fans there’s been “37 Spider-Man movies and you’re not complaining!” Charlie’s Angels has been absent from the big screen for almost 20 years. Banks continued with:

If this movie doesn’t make money it reinforces a stereotype in Hollywood that men don’t go see women do action movies.

It should be noted that Charlie’s Angels wasn’t dismissed by critics (check out our 3.5 review). The movie has a mixed 58% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes and on the moviegoer side it has an 81% audience score and B+ Cinemascore. Oh, and November has been full of flops based on properties in the “male genre”.

Just look at other recent “flops” Terminator: Dark Fate or Doctor Sleep. There’s tons of factors that could have gone into Charlie’s Angels failure to crack $9 million domestically its first weekend. The season’s stiff competition or the lack of starpower could be a couple reasons why fans didn’t show up in large numbers.

Remember, just a few years ago the idea of a female-centric blockbuster was somewhat of a dirty word. It was seen as impossible. Movies such as Wonder Woman were the risky shots that were the first to prove it can be done, and an interested audience is there. But, this doesn’t mean the industry has changed overnight.

Not every big female-centered storyline is going to resonate with the massive audience Diana Prince amassed. The same can be similarly said about two side-by-side male-centered action movies – only there’s far more action heroes already established on the male side. A head start so to say.

What do you think about Elizabeth Banks thoughts? Do you agree with them? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.