Pop Culture

Holding Out for a (Super)Hero

If you have even an ounce of comic book geek in your blood, you’re probably excited about The Avengers movie that’s scheduled to open in a few months. Personally, I got goosebumps when I saw the trailer during the Super Bowl a few weeks ago. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a good comic book superhero movie.

But as I was sitting here thinking about which comic book movies I love the most, I started to wonder something. Where in the hell are all of the WOMEN? They can get a dozen Batman movies made, Superman gets a TV show, and Spiderman is on freakin’ Broadway but the caped ladies haven’t been shown a decent amount of love since Lynda Carter stopped bouncing bullets off of her wrists in the late 1970s. And even that was on the small screen. Something is wrong here.

Here are some facts for you, from Box Office Mojo:

  • The top-grossing superhero movie so far is The Dark Knight (Batman).
  • The top five highest earners are all based on male superhero characters (Batman, Spiderman, Iron Man).
  • The first movie to show up on the list with a female main character is The Incredibles, coming in seventh.
  • Out of the top 20 superhero movies, 14 feature a male superhero as the lead character. The other six movies have an ensemble cast that includes at least one female character (The Incredibles, X-Men, Fantastic Four).

So what’s the deal?

Is there just not a demand for female superhero movies?  Doubtful. Women (and girls) are flocking to events like Comic Con in increasing numbers every year. They’re writing blogs and fanfic. And you’ve heard of cosplay, right? It’s not like women and girls haven’t expressed an interest in any of this. There are plenty of excellent female characters out there already that deserve to have a movie made about them. And the comic book industry has been succumbing to the pressure from their growing female fanbase to develop more characters and hire more female writers.

The opportunity is there and the demand is high. The problem seems to be that Hollywood just doesn’t know how to deal with a strong woman without turning her into a big piece of fluff by the time the end credits roll. Superheroes can be in love and still save the world from evil henchmen. Superheroines, however, either have to remain ice cold and reject all emotion or be swept away by The Guy and hang up their mask and cape forever. Apparently feelings and badassery do not go hand-in-hand when it comes to women as far as Hollywood is concerned.

“But we tried to make movies about female superheroes and nobody came to see them!” Well, that’s not entirely true. First of all, the few that have been produced pretty much sucked. In the last 30 years, we were given Supergirl, Catwoman, and Elektra. Now try counting how many male superhero movies have been made during that same time period. You’re going to have to try harder, Hollywood. Let’s get that Joss Whedon version of Wonder Woman made, shall we? Build it and we will come”¦ to the theater, that is.

How about you, ladies? Would you watch a movie based on a female comic book character? Which character would you want to see featured in a movie?

By April

If I had a dollar for every time I got distracted, I wish I had some ice cream.

34 replies on “Holding Out for a (Super)Hero”

A Manhunter film. I mean, I would love seeing a middle-aged superhero who maybe doesn’t have her life together but can still kick ass on the big screen. She’s a bit of a rogue vigilante who takes the law into her own hands when she can’t make the system work from the inside. Potentially dark & gritty, but with room for humour. It could be awesome.

I am still burned over what they did to Elektra. Elektra is one of my favorite comic book heroines — there’s enough plot in Assassin to fuel a good action movie.

They also tried that Birds of Prey series on tv too — I think you forgot that on your list.

Great female superheros to turn into movies: Kabuki, Strangers in Paradise (I’d kill for a tv series), Runaways, Rogue and Storm could both helm an origins script, Death would be a great character given a terrible script, Zatanna would probably suffer the same fate, and honestly, I’d love to see a new Red Sonja movie.

I KNOW! Its so good and has enough action plotlines to satisfy most tv watchers. I don’t think it could be a network show — there too much lesbianism and fluid sexuality in it to get sponsors, but Showtime? AMC? They could do good things with it.

Also, yay! I think you’re the first person here who has mentioned they knew the series.

I saw Elektra in the theatre. I actually really liked it even though I could see where it failed. It was two movies at once. It tried to be a thoughtful tale with character and story development AND a mindless action flick with eye candy. I liked the middle path it took, but I think it just irritated most audience members.

It bothers me that, after extremely limited forays, Hollywood has made lackluster box office returns an excuse to mansplain why they don’t make more women superhero movies.

Make them. Just make them GOOD.

This is why Misfits is the best thing ever. Pissing on the romanticism of superheroism, and articulating beautifully its female characters (and female issues) through superpower metaphor.

For those who don’t know (and because its one of my favourite parts of the show); in the first series one of the female characters gains a power whereby whenever she is touched by somebody attracted to her gender, they immediately go into a ravenous lust-trance and essentially hound her for sex (to the point of assaulting her if she resists). The power winds up acting as a metaphor for the myth of male weakness – despite the fact that theoretically, none of the men who try to rape her are aware that they tried to do it, the show karmically and through the character points out that that’s not an excuse even when its literally true, and the entire first season arc for her becomes one big metaphor for how hot people can’t “ask for it.”

Meanwhile, the other female character falls squarely into sexist and classist stereotypes about poor women in the UK (she’s a chav, she’s supposedly dumb, she can’t keep a man) and over the two series, she becomes the most consistently level-headed and kickarse character in the entire show, eventually acquiring the power of being a rocket scientist. She does a Donna Noble, essentially, and becomes (in my opinion, anyway) the most stable member of the group.

OH. And another character, a guy, eventually acquires the power of changing his biological sex, and subsequently learns exactly what it’s like to be pursued and leched at, to his fear and disgust.


God, Misfits, I love you.


It’s Skins meets Heroes, but cleverer than both of them with better female characters.

One of my favourite parts (minor spoiler but eh not a deadly one) is that a whole city gets these powers, but everyone’s seen enough TV, read enough comics and is sensible enough that hardly anyone talks about it in case something bad happens. When one person does, it winds up in pandemonium. (minor spoiler end)

Exactly! I want good ol’ fashioned Diana Prince, a modern full-length version of the old TV Show. And I don’t want any of these new costumes with the blue pants or the all-black. It’s Wonder Woman. She has to have the red boots with the white stripe.

Ace article! I would say though, on the point of either being cold or hanging up their capes, I think Selina Kyle has struck an interesting balance and I think she is being featured more in the new Batman film …? It’s a very interesting topic, but my film knowledge as a whole is awful. Though, have had a brainwave, Hit Girl is a neat portrayal, though she’s certainly not the typical heroine.

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