Open Forum Friday: Why Have We Still Not Seen a Recent Female Superhero Movie?


With Wonder Woman rumours swirling and Joss Whedon’s recent comments about feminism currently reverberating throughout the blogosphere, it seems like a good time to discuss the current state of women in comic book movies. Whedon himself has spoken out on the subject, stating that the lack of female-led superhero movies kinda pisses him off. Considering that he’s in a perfect position to influence the movies that Marvel chooses to make, the fact that there aren’t any known plans for such a thing speaks volumes. Kevin Feige seems to think that supporting roles for characters like Pepper Potts and Peggy Carter are good enough for now. Why are studios so afraid of making blockbusters that star women?

The failure of Elektra and Catwoman are often cited as excuses, along with limited sales of action figures featuring female characters for kids. Still, Whedon has pointed out the insane success of YA franchises like The Hunger Games, many of which happen to star women. Wonder Woman is probably the best known female superhero, and it sounds like there’s a good chance that she will appear in the Batman vs. Superman movie but we still don’t know if she will ever headline her own movie. That seems crazy. And what about Black Widow? You can’t tell me that men won’t pay to see Scarlett Johansson in her own movie. What do you think? Is the problem that all the female comic book characters are uninteresting? Are there not enough A-list actresses to support these things? Why haven’t there been any female superhero movies since the mid-2000s? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.

  • patrik

    Hard to look past studio bias really and the fact that there really aren’t that many great characters are there? I’d definitely like to see some though. Tomb Raider.. Get Emilia Clarke in and I’m ready. Hit-Girl could potentially have her own movie, or anything with Chloë Grace Moretz for that matter.

    I’m not a fan of Wonder Woman really but why not.. I hope those Jamie Alexander rumours are true.

  • Claws Longtail

    The problem with Black Widow is that she doesn’t actually have any super powers. All of the best powered Marvel characters are X-men. Owned by FOX.

    How about Spider-Woman? She has good powers, a great costume, and connections to SHIELD.

  • Jason Black

    I think its down to Cat Woman flopping. Its still (after all this time) scaring studios off.
    Hit Girl film would be great!

  • Lior

    I agree. The X-Men female characters are great. I like the X-Men movies and would love to see a Mystique stand-alone, for example. In general, I think there aren’t many female super heroes to choose from. The biggest one is definitely Wonder Woman but the character is so cheesy and comic-booky it’ll take a serious revamp to transfer her to the screen.

  • PlanBFromOuterSpace

    Judging by the big box office drop between Kick-Ass 1 and 2, a Hit Girl movie wouldn’t make a dime

  • Jason Black

    Id bet a dime it would make more than a dime!

    Were talking lower budget films here when talking about Hit Girl…not high budget.
    Cat Woman was $100 million i would expect a Hit Girl film to cost $30 and take 60-100 million.

  • patrik

    Kitty Pride has an awesome arc in Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-men. I would love for that whole comic to be adapted but it would be difficult to do even with a trilogy unfortunately..

  • patrik

    Well the first Kick-Ass didn’t even make 100 million so it’s unlikely that a Hit-Girl standalone would. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that it would match Kick-Ass 2, the drop off was probably the people who didn’t like the first one and Hit-Girl seems to be most peoples favorite thing in these movies anyway.. Who knows though. They do well on blu-ray/dvd as well and Chloë’s star is on the rise. Millar is writing the conclusion now though so maybe she’ll die or something. All I know is I would like to see it.

  • Brittany Gresang

    That hasn’t stopped anyone from making Resident Evil and Underworld movies whether we want them or not. :P

  • Gerry

    I think the drop off between Kick-Ass 1 and 2 was because the first was good and the second was boring and bad.

    Kick-Ass wore a teeshirt in 2 that said I hate reboots. It should’ve said I hate cash grab sequels.

    I’d like to see Batgirl and Supergirl films in the vein of Nolan’s Batman films.

  • PlanBFromOuterSpace

    No, I think the drop between Kick-Ass 1 and 2 was more of an indication of how maybe people didn’t care about the first one as we thought. The second one not making money didn’t mean people didn’t like the second one as much as they just didn’t bother seeing it in the first place.

  • PlanBFromOuterSpace

    Also, you would be insane to think a Hit-Girl movie would make it even halfway to a hundred million. Again, the first Kick-Ass did perfectly mediocre business, the second was dead on arrival, and at this point, if there were a third or a spin-off, it would almost certainly go straight to video.
    You’re also forgetting that Chloe Moretz isn’t exactly setting the box office on fire in her non-Kick-Ass films either.

  • patrik

    PlanB – Well that was kinda my point. The people who didn’t like Kick-Ass probably didn’t go see Kick-Ass 2 and the people who did go see it are probably people who would go see another one too.. I think another a third movie would make a similar amount to Kick-Ass 2. It’s made twice it’s budget with dvd/blu-ray sales to come so who knows what’s gonna happen. It’s a tightrope with this one.

    Gerry – I don’t think so because those people wouldn’t know that that Kick-Ass 2 wasn’t as good as the first without going to see it. More likely, the drop off is people who were offended/upset with the first one. It’s all conjecture though.

  • patrik

    As long as they can get Kate Beckinsale back, they can do as many Underworld movies as they want to for me. I do think the first one is genuinely good though. Besides they’ve consistently made about $100 million or more, the last two Resident Evil movies bringing in more than $200 million so they could definitely be some sort of platform for the right actress.

  • Wayne Regier

    All the Marvel mutants from the X-Men universe have always been my favorite female characters. Especially during the Claremont era. He wrote great stories that made the females part of the forefront. X-Men have always done that. Imagine seeing Psylocke, Domino, Dazzler, Kitty Pride, Blink, Skin, Karma, all interesting characters but owned by Fox. Look how bad they fucked up Emma Frost in the last Xmen film.
    There are too many characters intertwined and related by blood or group affiliation not to have a great female lead with a compelling story in that universe.

    Other series however only have a female in service of the male counterpart. Most are just a generic take on a male character just add woman or (uh) girl after Spider, Bat, Super and give them a wooden alter ego. This is the fault of the comics industry but over the last 20 years it has been a ton better.

    I think the only top teir put asses in seats character is Wonder Woman. I’m not a fan but considering how gods and reality were handled in Thor a Wonder Woman film would be awesome. Most are familiar with Amazon myth and Greek mythology so there would be no need for a lot of exposition. A Hancock style plot would work well and there is no reason for any casting of a romantic male lead in her world. Casting someone with a name like Christina Hendricks would be perfect. She has the acting chops, physique, and star power to pull it off.

  • Matt the Kiwi

    I agree with Lior – Wonder Woman is way too cheesy to translate to the screen successfully: Invisible jets, lasso of truth and bullet blocking bracelets just aren’t going to fit into a Nolan-esq superhero story.
    I’d be more inclined to see an R18 female based superhero film which isn’t necessarily based on an existing franchise. A very hot punisher style female lead would pull me in. Salt was an enjoyable film where the lead could have easily been male but was made interesting by using Angelina. So mix in a few super powers and play up the bad girl attitude “Normally I don’t kill people but I’m having my period” – bang.

  • But the cheesiness of wonder woman is dependent on the how the translation to the big screen is made, right? I mean, compare Adam West Batman with Nolan Batman. Both are based on the same character.

  • Omar Hauksson

    The movie business is a business and is all about the bottom line. Aside from Cat Woman every female superhero movie has flopped at the box office. And Cat Woman got slaughtered in the reviews and is pretty much infamous for being a terrible movie, which it is.
    Underworld and Resident Evil have the horror element as well that help it spread over a wider audience but the superhero genre is mostly dudes who want their women with big tits and to be a fetish object for the most part. I’m pretty sure all the studios have done research as to how marketable some of these characters are and seen that it doesn’t bode well for them to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a character that very few people are interested in or even aware of.
    I guess Wonder Woman is probably the best known, aside from Cat Woman, but as people have pointed out, her character is a cheesy relic of a by gone era. But I think you could rethink her to fit with the times pretty easily, aside from the terrible name she carries.
    I’m sure somebody will take the first step with a lower budget feature and see how that goes.

  • Gerry

    You’re forgetting about word of mouth.

    Marketing or a name attached to a film might get you a big opening weekend but word of mouth determines success after this, hence lots of huge drop offs after big openings for hyped but shitty films.

  • Matt the Kiwi

    With Wonder Woman the cheesiness is built into the character herself and her powers whereas Batman is just a dude in a costume so you can bring that to the screen a bunch of different ways. To go “Nolan” on a Wonder Woman movie you’d need to change just about every element of her, including the name! Even Daniel Day Lewis would struggle to add gravitas to the words ‘Its wonder woman!’ Doesn’t she just spin around to change costumes? Perhaps it would work in the same vein as the Charlies Angels movies or My ex-girlfriend is a superhero.

  • Wonder woman has been done in a number of different ways in the comics. In the stuff I’ve read with her she doesn’t have an invisible jet and she doesn’t spin to change costume. She is just a bad ass amazon. I’m guessing that that is how they would handle her name too, just call her the Amazon. Like Green Arrow is called the Hood or Arrow on the tv show.

    Right now in the comics she is the daughter of Zeus and has taken place in the pantheon as the God of War, which I think could be used to tell interesting stories.

  • Matt the Kiwi

    I think you are just about convincing me. My lack of imagination was stopping me from seeing the changes that could be made (but I’m using the excuse that I’ve never read a Wonder Woman comic).

    Have you seen this WW short film. Pretty convincing argument for being able to do it well:

  • patrik

    Yeah but I just think that the people who went to see Kick-Ass 2 likely would have done so regardless of word of mouth.. I think it’s been distilled down to the people who would go see it anyway, sort of like Resident Evil/Underworld.