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, isn’t it a little sad that us girls have yet to have a quality superhero moment on celluloid? For the past decade or so we’ve been proud to shell out our ten bucks to the movie house to watch Tobey Maguire and Christian Bale kick ass in spandex, because seriously, it’s Tobey Maguire and Christian Bale in Spandex, but we deserve more than that.
Male superheroes are great and I’ll watch as many movies about them as the studios can shell out, but at the same time, attending the very same movies to see women reduced to the obligatory role of shrieking damsel in distress has been less than inspiring. Not to mention how it must look to the outside community to have the most powerful geeks in the business regressing to their no girls allowed stage. It’s not too late to right this wrong, Comic-book movies are more popular than ever now, and there has never been a better time to include strong females into the equation.
The movies will seriously be better for it, for instance how many times have you heard this sentence, “that movie was kick ass, except I didn’t like Kirsten Dunst,” or “X-Men was so awesome but I wish they would have found someone else to play Storm.” It’s not just girls who complain about this. Did you ever stop to think that it isn’t just the actresses who sully your favorite movies but the comic book movie industry’s lazy attitude towards women characters in general? The actress is only as good as her material, and the material is seriously lacking. We need to take a good look at who is really responsible for this boy’s club trend and how they can fix it. Who’s to blame may shock you.
THE PROBLEM: There are so many amazing female characters in the Batman universe yet none of them seemed interesting enough to include in the otherwise brilliant Batman Begins. Granted, the inclusion of Rachel Dawes paid off big time in The Dark Knight, but you have to admit, the first time around she was a bit of a head scratcher. Why not Talia Al Ghul? She could have been a much more compelling love interest for the first movie. Adaptations don’t have to be exactly like the comics, but they do serve the purpose of effectively capturing characters we love and putting them on screen, so why ignore the women?
THE SOLUTION: Catwoman! If God is listening and Christopher Nolan does make a third movie within the next few years, then our friend Batman’s gonna need a new love interest, it would be great to have one that doesn’t need to be rescued all of the time (although once is fine). And for all of you who think that miss Selina Kyle is too obvious a character to include, well, so was The Joker and look how that turned out. After Michelle Pfeiffer’s interpretation, which while entertaining was not an accurate portrayal of the Catwoman we know today, and of course Halle Berry’s debacle, this iconic character needs to be redeemed something fierce. If anyone can do it, Christopher Nolan can.
THE PROBLEM: Well, he gave the ladies powers in the X-Men series, he just forgot the personalities. He turned the sexy, sassy southern belle Rogue into a mopey teenager, the diabolical Mystique into a naked mute, and the strong, regal storm into Halle Berry. If you’re going to take liberties with classic characters, why would you choose to make them less interesting? While the male characters got fully fleshed out personas for the most part, every female character got a moody emo-bitch makeover, Jean Grey is the only character that came away unscathed, but she was already a moody emo-bitch to begin with.
THE SOLUTION: Well, the damage is done, so nothing short of a complete retooling a la Batman Begins will give us the X-Women we fondly remember. But the next time Singer gets the chance to make a female heavy ensemble picture, it would do him well to make the femmes more interesting to watch.
THE PROBLEM: Not only did he pull a Bryan Singer and desexify our beloved Mary Jane Watson, he completely undermined his reasons for doing so in the third film. Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane was originally conceived as an amalgam of Spidey’s two great loves, the fiery Mary Jane Watson and the sweet Gwen Stacy. That made sense, until they for no good reason added Gwen in the third movie to contrive an unnecessary love triangle. If they needed a love triangle, they should have gone with the second love interest who made sense, Felicia “The Black Cat” Hardy. She may be more or less a Catwoman clone, but her addition to the story would have been a lot more exciting then adding yet another generic damsel in distress to the picture.
THE SOLUTION: Work on Mary Jane, and stop making every female character in the series a catalyst for the destruction of Spidey’s relationship, they have better things to do.
THE PROBLEM: If you haven’t heard of these filmmakers there’s a very good reason. They helmed Elektra, Supergirl: The Movie and Catwoman respectively. Granted they did exactly what I’m claiming hasn’t been done, they made superhero films centered on women, but they did it wrong in every possible way. They diminished the chances of strong box office numbers and therefore hurt the willingness of studios to invest in further female centered comic-book adaptations by making them about heroines who were originally sidekicks or love interests, disregarding all of the perfectly good heroines who operate alone. Nobody would want to watch Aqualad: The Motion Picture, would they? Especially not if it were as poorly made as these three. If people think that female centered comic-book movies inherently suck, then they will never get made. Why do you think the Wonder Woman movie has been shelved more times than the comics on which it’s based? A quality comic book movie can be made about a female hero, we just need a filmmaker who will put forth the effort.
THE SOLUTION: First of all, never let these three make movies again. Second, find someone who can not only make a film based on an iconic stand-alone superheroine, but who can make it brilliantly.
Women in comics are complex, strong, smart, beautiful, sexy, adventurous and perfectly lovable. If only the movies based on comics would portray them as such. Comic book movies may still be more of a guy thing, but women are a large part of the audience too, sometimes we just need to feel empowered. And you know that guys are still going to watch. Boobs and explosions are the most guy friendly combination imaginable, as long as there’s a good story to go with the boobs and explosions, men will watch. So what are the studios hesitating for?