Guess there’s not much political news these days, which is why liberal journal The American Prospect is addressing the timely question of sexism in the world of comic-book filmmaking. Still, it’s a perfectly good question: where are all the comic book movies with female leads? Films with superheroines as part of teams (X-Men, Fantastic Four, the upcoming Watchmen and Justice League) don’t count. The Prospect argues that there’s a female audience for comic book movies (it can’t have been just men who made Dark Knight the second-biggest movie of all time), but the spandex stars these days are all guys. It’s not like there’s not plenty of tights-clad superwomen in the Marvel and DC universes, and while a movie about Wonder Woman (comic-dom’s best-known superheroine, and a once-popular TV staple) would seem like a no-brainer, Warner Bros. hasn’t been able to get one off the ground.* So who’s behind the dearth of superheroine flicks?
Obvious culprits would seem to be Elektra, Catwoman and Aeon Flux. Once movies featuring those heroines in lead roles tanked, the studios seemed to lose interest in solo superheroines. Still, it does seem unfair — the Hulk fails and gets a second try, the Punisher gets a third try, but an entire gender’s worth of heroes gets written off because a few badly written movies deservedly flopped?
Who knows, maybe Warners will eventually take another crack at Catwoman and this time keep her close to her comic-book backstory instead of inventing a new character and slapping cat ears on her head and thinking fans won’t mind the changes. But that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. Meanwhile, we’ll have to settle for group tales like Watchmen (if it ever makes it out of legal limbo) and Avengers. Not that those projects won’t be cool; I’m especially enjoying the rumor that Eva Longoria is joining the Avengers cast as Wasp. Still, said rumor is just a reminder that there are a lot of capable actresses around who’d
look good in spandex make fine superheroines, if only the projects were there.
*Buffy creator Joss Whedon seemed for a long time like Warners’ best hope to get a Wonder Woman movie flying, but he dropped out of the project last year. He talked to EW about his abortive involvement in the movie here.