Men and women, it turns out, have differing visions of what makes a kick-ass female superhero
Superpowers aren't just carried by the Y chromosome – not that you'd know from the recent film offerings from Marvel and DC. The recent slate of superhero movies have been overwhelmingly male, populated by every Peter, Tony, Bruce, and Clark around. Thus, news today that Sony has greenlit a superheroine movie from the Spider-Man universe – to be written by Lisa Joy – feels like a long time coming.
But while most of us agree that we need more female-led superhero movies, it's hard to come up with a consensus of what a strong woman kicking ass – and the movie around her – should look like. Men and women especially have different visions of femme-powerment, so we polled TheWrap staff to ask what kind of superheroine(s) they'd like to see on the big screen – Wonder Women, Rogue, Joan of Arc (?!) – if any at all.
Sharon Waxman, Editor in Chief
I grew up loving Catwoman and being totally confused by the cheesy camp of Wonder Woman. Lucy Lawless [as Xena] was cool. Why? A female superhero should be smart, strong, and funny.
In that sense, Wonder Woman made no sense to me. And neither did Halle Berry as Catwoman, if you remember that misfire. She was not believable as a strong, smart savior – Berry always seems to need to be rescued instead. I would believe Angelina Jolie as Spiderwoman, Catwoman, or, for that matter, Antwoman.
Carly Milne, News Editor
A Wonder Woman movie, all the way. I've been a fan since I was wee; I had a Wonder Woman bathing suit when I was five. While I recognize the 70s TV show was a classic, it wasn't enough – and it's time for a re-telling of her story. The c'mere/go away nature of her own film has been ultra-frustrating, particularly considering the awesomeness of the Whedon-penned script some years back.
There have been so many stops and starts to a Wonder Woman project, in fact, that it's heartening to see her pop up in “Batman vs. Superman,” but it's just not enough. She needs her own stand-alone — one with solid, unparalleled support behind it from script to screen.
I remember Sandra Bullock‘s name being bandied back in the day. What about J. Law in a badass costume? Not the cheeseball of old, but more Nolan-esque than the primary color insanity we're accustomed to.
Linda Ge, Blogger/Reporter
Watching the “X-Men” cartoons every Saturday morning makes up some of my earliest memories, so I have always been an “X-Men” fan — specifically a Jean Grey/Phoenix fan. She's one of the founding members of the team, she has a fascinating history, and the Dark Phoenix Saga is one of the most iconic stories in comic-book history. And yet, she's gotten overlooked again and again both in the comics and especially on the big screen, where Bryan Singer got her completely wrong. Then again, she's not alone there.
Currently in the comic books, writer Brian Michael Bendis is brilliantly showing off how much of a kick-ass character Jean can be, even in a younger, less powerful context. I firmly believe filmmakers can take any comic-book character and turn him or her into a compelling film lead. When it's someone as cool as Jean Grey, it should be even easier. And it's long overdue.
Inkoo Kang, Film Critic
Rogue more or less disappeared from the X-Men franchise after her coming-of-age story in the first installment. Anna Paquin is a great actress, but I'd love a reboot of the character — and a film focused primarily on her — that's similar to the version from the 1990s cartoon: older (mid-to-late twenties), sassy, tragic, and damn near invincible.
Rogue's backstory has tears to spare: she ran away from home when her mother mysteriously disappeared after a religious ceremony gone awry. She's desperately lonely — and does find solace among the camaraderie of the X-Men — and yet can't touch another living soul lest she kill them (and, if they're a mutant, drain them of their powers). She can only caress a lover's face through gloves (hot), plus wears taxi-yellow go-go boots as everyday shoewear (double hot).
Dream casting choices: Mia Wasikowska, Gemma Arterton, Maisie Williams (Arya on ”Game of Thrones”) in 10-15 years, Melonie Diaz (because there's no reason why Rogue has to be white).
Jeff Sneider, Film Reporter
I'm all for more women kicking ass on the big screen (loved the first two “Alien” movies and “Kill Bill,” dug “Salt” “Hanna” and “The Hunger Games” movies), but I have very little interest in female superhero movies starring women who are 5-feet tall and 100 lbs. Give ‘em a gun or a sword or a bow & arrow and I'm there, but hand-to-hand, I'm only buying ScarJo and Angie, so if you don't bring me one of them, I'm out.
I do not care about Black Cat or Spider-Woman or even Wonder Woman. I would rather see a female remake of “The Crow.”
Jordan Zakarin, Film Reporter
I think it's sort of a silly debate to be having, because women have shown that they can lead every other kind of movie — including lucrative action films and franchises otherwise. Plus, it's not like a woman superhero would suddenly ruin the integrity and streak of perfection in these films — “Man of Steel” was a garbage film that took its meaningless self far more seriously than it deserved, and there have been plenty of flops in the genre, such as “Green Lantern” and, to a degree, the most recent “Spider-Man.”
If “Guardians of the Galaxy” worked because it was different and refreshing, imagine a film led by a kick-ass woman. I'd pay to see that immediately. Who knows if Sony is just trying to grab some attention with a vague announcement about an undefined film three years away, but I'm more curious about it than the already-announced Sinister Six, that's for sure.
Tim Molloy, TV Editor
I started reading Spider-Man comics back when he was dating the Black Cat, so she was as much a part of the Spider-Man universe to me as he was. And she was more interesting. An ex-cat burglar trying to reform, she worried about whether she ever could. She was scary and mysterious and cool. If nine-year old me could relate to a female superhero in the early 80s, I'm sure movie audiences today will embrace female superheroes, too.
It's always fun when the person we expect to be weak is strong, which is why Hit Girl is the coolest part of “Kick-Ass.” Comics have a proud tradition of uplifting underdogs. But it's sexist (and boring) if a heroine's only supposed weakness is the fact that she's a woman. Superhero movies need to give their women heroes the same kinds of flaws that men have, from Iron Man's dying heart to the Hulk's lack of self-control. If the story's compelling, moviegoers will buy in.
Where to draw from? There are a lot of options. The new Spider-Man movies have already set up the Black Cat. Captain Marvel and the new female Hawkeye are current fascinations in the Marvel Universe. Daredevil's Typhoid Mary is a compelling mix of light and dark. And Dagger, one half of Cloak & Dagger, is both compelling and filmable — she fires piercing daggers of light. Dazzler, born in the disco era, would be a lot of fun, if the movie were set in the late '70s or early '80s.
X-Men mastermind Chris Claremont had the best female heroes, but the movies have already brought many of them to life: Kitty Pryde, Jean Grey, Storm, Rogue, Mystique. I'd watch an entire Mystique movie.
Joseph Kapsch, Executive Editor
I'm certainly not the target demographic for any kind of superhero movie and I only watch most of them because I need to be informed for our news coverage. Admittedly, I wasn't rushing home from school to read comic books as a kid or teen, I was actually rushing to my mailbox for the newest copy of Us Weekly Magazine.
That being said, if Hollywood is scrambling to make a glut of female superhero movies based on the success of Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson's “Lucy” they might want to hold their horses a bit. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge advocate of badass, butt-kicking female characters in film and TV. As an avid viewer of shows like “Alias,” starring Jennifer Garner, or even the original “Charlie's Angels” (they weren't female superheroes of the comic book variety, but they embodied a lot of the same qualities), I certainly would welcome a big screen female superhero movie. “The Amazing Spider-Woman,” I can get onboard with this project, especially if it helps the world forget the “Catwoman” disaster with Halle Berry ever happened at all.
The questions are: Can a studio actually create a female superhero driven tentpole that is as viable a moneymaker as its male counterparts? And will the moviegoing audience head to the theater on opening weekend? We shall see.
Tony Maglio, TV Reporter
I'm all for female superhero movies, but the fangirl market is still not what the fanboy market is, so it seems like a riskier investment from the studio side. Plus, historically, the vast majority of superheroes were men, so it's inarguably slimmer pickings for the fairer sex within the realm of existing franchises.
And taking the female version of a male superhero does nothing for women in film. Create an original or exploit a cool female superhero — like Rogue of X-Men – and write a good script, hire a good actress and don't make her a crime-fighting single mom. That doesn't help anybody.
Todd Cunningham, Box Office Reporter
I don't think the gender of the superheroes matters that much, and I'm pretty sure that superhero equality shouldn't be on the front burner when it comes to equality between the sexes.
The fact is, most superhero movies are primarily the domain of teenage boys, who can identify best with male heroes (not to mention the “yuck — girls!” factor). That doesn't mean it has to be that way going forward, but it's not like Hollywood and Marvel and DC haven't tried female superheroes before — if you look at Wikipedia, there's nearly a hundred of them, and some have connected. I know Warner Bros. is pinning a lot of hope on Wonder Woman as a character. And Scarlett Johansson may yet get her own Black Widow movie with Marvel.
That said, if you have an intriguing character and have the right actor — or actress — it's going to connect. Had anyone heard of Peter Quill before a week ago?
Andy Gensler, Deputy Managing Editor
In general, female superheroines have a tough time of it: They tend not to connect with audiences that are primarily of a young-male milieu and where fans generally tend to reject female superheroes. These women face the unenviable task of treading that impossible line between drop-dead sex appeal and being a ninja warrior able to kick the asses of much larger opponents and be believable. We need a female superhero who can change the straitjacket terms of the traditional female superhero.
I'd like to see R. Crumb's Ideal Woman, but made-over as a bad-ass contemporary feminist, a warrior who can cut through male megalomania BS in a single honest, authentic, and castrating bound. Who should play her? Melissa McCarthy, looking buxom and badass.
Travis Reilly, Blogger/Reporter
I'm delighted Sony plans to release a superhero movie with a female lead for two reasons: 1) I like superhero movies, and 2) I like women. Those are my thoughts.
I'm less delighted it has taken them so damned long. I don't have the mathematical wherewithal to calculate how many billions Sony, Warner Bros, Disney, 20th Century Fox, etc., have made in the past few decades from ideas torn from the pages of $3.99 comic books, but it's disheartening the companies are still — in the vast majority of instances — clinging to Caucasian male leads.
Female superheroes have been the centerpieces of films for decades and decades — just ask Maria Falconetti from “The Passion of the Joan of Arc” (1928.) Talking to God has to be one of the greatest powers ever, right?