WHy has there been no good female superhero movies

A couple of days ago something occurred to me. There has no good female super hero film. Elektra was average,CatWoman was terrible, and Joss Whedons script for a Wonder-Woman movie was rejected. The only exception i can think of is the animated wonder woman movie dc did. But besides that, there hasn’t been a movie focused on a female superhero with the same caliber as say Nolans Batman films or even the first 2 spiderman films.

I wonder if this is just a coincidence, or if as my dad theorized hollywood is just scared of a strong female protagonist(Who happens to tie up men and force them to tell the truth in the case of WOnder WOman). While i would like to believe that the reason does not come down to sexism, i feel there must be some reason beyond coincidence for the dearth of female focused superhero films.

ANother reason that i think could be factor it is that hollywood doesn’t think there’s a large enough base of female comic book fans. And most movies that hollywood markets towards females don’t have strong complex female characters(AKA most hollywood rom-coms). But then again, those seem to sell enough that Hollywood keeps on making more, so maybe the market forย  complex strong female character focused movies isn’t as large as it should be.

Whedon, who created the feminist minded Buffy the Vampire Slayer(which i am a big fan of) has said that the Avengers movie will have multiple female characters, but only 1 female avenger. It seems right now the only we can get strong complex female superheros is as team members(like X-men and the Fantastic Four)ย  but hopefully that will change in the future.

If you have any thoughts regarding this topic please share

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21 Responses to WHy has there been no good female superhero movies

  1. Castor says:

    Nice post Julian. The fact is Hollywood has completely shelved the idea of having a female superhero for the time being because they are just not profitable as a whole. This is why there is so few female-centric movies, the exceptions being romantic comedies and the couple of indies that come out every now and then.

    And we can totally forget about strong, independent female characters. The tiny minority that actually end up as the central character of a movie end up underperforming at the box office, one recent example being Morning Glory only a couple months ago. This in turn causes studios to continue to believe that audiences don’t want them.

    • Somehow your comment ended up in the spam que(This is the second time a legitimate comment has ended up in the spam que). Not sure how that happened.

      And yeah, i find it rather sad that the audience for female centric movies is so small in these modern times. Although Easy A seems to be becoming one of the few exceptions.

      While the animated wonder woman movie isn’t amazing i think its worth a watch. There is also a foreign movie called persepolis which i feel has a strong female protagonist. I also think television seems more willing to have strong, complex female protagonists.

      And i think i might check out Morning Glory since i generally trust your opinions on movies.

      And thank you for the comment. I really appreciate it.

  2. rtm says:

    I know it’s for TV, but I think Nikita can be considered a superhero, no? I mean she’s got logic defying fighting skills whilst still manage to look sexy all the way through ๐Ÿ˜€ And Sucker Punch has all female kick-ass heroines. I agree though there aren’t enough of ’em out there.

    I also think James Cameron has done a lot of movies with strong female characters, though to Castor’s point, they weren’t marketed as such. Alien, Terminator, even Avatar have strong female protagonists, but the ‘star’ of the show is the subject matter/concept, more so than the lead character. I’m with you Julian, I hope there will be more female-driven superhero flicks in the future.

    • I think tv allows a bit more room for female-focused fare. And Sucker Punch didn’t occur to me, but the females in the movie certainly appear to be strong, although i’m not sure they would qualify as complex characters.

      Thanks for the comment btw

      • rtm says:

        Yeah, I think on TV there’s certainly more opportunities for female-focused shows. Sucker Punch is only a tiny minority in the superhero genre, we need more ‘Wonder Woman’ type, as you say, instead of a big group.

  3. You’re unfortunately correct in the fact that there aren’t too many female superhero movies/shows. But…there are many female superheroes in movies! for example, look at Xmen! It doesn’t feature any ONE superhero, and there were several female superheroes. Many are in tv shows/cartoons/movies, but, you’re right, there aren’t too many that are leads.

    Another interesting article for you to check out would be at CinemaBlend. you may have seen it. http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Superhero-Movies-By-The-Numbers-An-Infographic-22623.html Not just the article itself…but also the comments below on what actually defines a superhero.

    Great post! and, yes, Catwoman was horrific! I’m still hoping for a Wonder Woman movie…I’m thinking Emily Blunt! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Yeah, i think X-men right now have the best amount of female superheroes. I also feel that sometimes strong female characters are written simplistically(bella from the show Supernatural is a good example. ) I do plan to cover the topic of feminism in movies more in depth at some point,not sure when yet.

      And i will check out the article.

      And i think Emily Blunt would make a fine wonderwoman, although i think she would need to work out a bit to get the right physique for the role(Like Bale did for batman). I still want AMy Acker as wonder woman tho

      And thanks for the comment. I’ve had trouble getting replys, so i’m happy that this post seems to be getting responses. I will put your blog on my blogroll as a thank you

  4. Amy Acker! Nice choice! What’s funny is that both Emily Blunt and Amy Acker hover around 5ft 7 or 8inches tall. and Wonder Woman is at least 6ft tall! Not only would both ladies need to work out to audition, but they’d also need to grow! hahha (or do the old Humphrey Bogart trick of platform shoes and no full body shots!)

    Thank you for the blogroll add! I will return the favor. One thing that we bloggers appreciate is comments. No doubt. An author always appreciates knowing that their work is read and enjoyed! Thank you so much for adding me and I look forward to reading more from you!

    • As rtm can tell you, i have become one of the biggest AMy fanboys out there. She is one actress who i think has shown great range in her roles on Angel and Dollhouse, and i feel she is one of the most underrated actress’s in sci-fi. I really just want her to get a starring role in something. I wouldn’t mind blunt as wonder-woman, i just want Amy to get some recognizance.

  5. Dan says:

    You make an intersting point about Buffy – it worked so well as a television show, why wouldn’t it achieve the same sort of success on film. But then again, the original Buffy film failed miserably. But was that a different time and, indeed, a completely different style. I think it was.

    It doesn’t surprise me too much that female superheroes as a concept hasn’t worked as well as male superheroes. I don’t think the female ego is massaged in the same way as a man’s is to a male superhero – it’s a macho, dominant thing and it doesn’t sell so well to female audiences.

    • Glad to see another Buffy fan =D

      And as for your point about female audiences, while i would like to believe female audiences want to see a complex, strong female on screen(or a female character who turns into one) the sales of dismal rom-coms such as The Ugly truth seems to say otherwise.

      It is also possible writers just have a harder time writing female characters. I think sometimes they have a difficulty writing female characters who have both strength and vulnerability, and end up emphasizing only one aspect

      And thanks for the comment

      • Dan says:

        Definitely. And you’ve got to consider how many dominant female writer/directors are working in Hollywood now, and how many of those are making films about strong female characters. I’m not a fan of Sofia Coppola but from what I’ve seen her female characters have inherent flaws, while Kathryn Bigelow is happier making films about men it would seem.

        Others, like Heckerling, have found the rom-com a easy genre to have success in.

        • Well i think a female character can be flawed and strong at the same time, same with male characters. I’m not a huge Sofia fan but i didn’t mind Lost in Translation(or Marie Antonite, which surprised). I’m not familiar with Heckerling, but i think rom-coms can allow for strong female characters, but for most mainstream hollywood rom-coms this is not the case(I did see a foreign rom-com called Adrenaline Drive in which i feel the main female character found her strength through the course of the movie).

          I plan to be a filmmaker myself someday soon, and i hope to give my female characters the same complexity as my male ones.

          • Dan says:

            …and absolutely you should. American cinema definitely needs more strong, rounded, female characters that have depth and personality without being caricatures, based on cliche or resorted to stereotypes.

  6. Joel Burman says:

    Such great discussions spring in these comments. My quick answer (without having read the comments in here) on the topic is that most Marvel and DC heroines arent that well written to start with. Therefore making it hard to do movies about them from the start.

    I mean both Electra and Catwoman are villains/supporting parts in Daredevil and Batman for instance. I hate to admit it but Marvel which is my obvious favorite super hero house hardly has any good female heroines that could be adapted into their own movie spin off.

    I hope they bring on Black Cat into the Spiderman reboot!

    • Actually in a irc channel i frequent someone pretty much made the argument your making about them being not well written. I personally think with a good director/screenwriter Elektra and Catwoman could have been better movies.

      At the very least, i think Wonder Woman could make for a good movie. The animated one DC put out wasn’t bad(its actually one of my fav animated dc movies), so i think with the right people it could make for a great live action movie.

      And thanks for the comment ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Rashon says:

    well Storm is a very strongly written marvel character, the x movies dont show that but anyone who is familure with the comic books knows this, which is why many fans like myself were upset about her role in those movies. She was leader of the xmen for a very long time and defeated cyclops without any powers to maintain her role as leader. She also defeated black panther and the entire x men a couple years ago ( who were being controlled by the shadow king) and killed cyclopse to free him from the shadow king and then used cpr to bring him back to life. Aside from that even if you read her background on wikipedia she is a very interesting and complex character. She is also the first truley strong black super hero created, it kind of sadens me that she now is playing wall paper for black panther thanks to their marraige, as an effort to boost his following. However I think that in X4 they will be making her leader and giving her a much stronger role. fingers crossed

    BTW that Wonder Woman cartoon origins movie release in 2009 was very good and if the live action used it as a guide they have a chance of making a good movie that will profit. But I fear that the failure of the up and coming Wonder Woman TV show will prevent her movie debute even longer…..

    It also pisses me off that the Avengers only have Black Widow, I was expecting at least Wasp, and hoping for The Scarlet Witch but maybe if the first A movie is successful they will make sequels and more female heros will join the team. My I deal team would be Hawkeye, Thor, Hulk, Ant Man, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, Miss Marvel, and Vision and Iron man with minor roles…..

  8. Rashon says:

    oh yeah and Captin America ofcourse….

    • Thanks for comment. And i do think out of all the females in the X-men movies, Storm ends up kicking the most ass(I mean, she defeated both Sabertooth and Toad, while Jean ended up needing to be rescued from Toad). And yeah, Wonder Woman seems to have no luck in the world of cinema.

  9. tiberiusfunk says:

    Wonder Woman. Storm. Psylocke. Huntress. Catwoman. Black Canary. Black Widow. Elecktra. Buffy Summers. River Tam. Ellen Ripley. Sarah Connor. Silk Spectre. These are characters all kick ass and are loved by fanboys and fangirls alike. They are just as loved and essential to their respective universes as any of their male counterparts. I wrote in a different thread that the back catalogue of solo female superhero movies have been extremely lazy in the writing and characterisation of the leads. Joss Whedon showed with Buffy that a female superhero can be just as engaging and believable as a male lead. Film makers need to realise that their audience are intelligent and want to see a variety of characters on screen in leading roles, not just men. Get some decent directors and writers to stop reducing female superheroes down to scantily clad buxon beauties and realise that it is not only men who go to the movies.

    • Agreed. If only more studio heads thought this way we might see some progress on that, but alas they are intent on making more board game adaptions…because Battleship wasn’y enough of a hint. Truly a sad state of affairs

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