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Female characters in superhero movies nothing more than accessories?

The BBC is wondering why there are no female superhero movies despite woman making up 52% of all movie ticket sales.

From the BBC:

2013 has seen Gwyneth Paltrow, Amy Adams and Natalie Portman (all Oscar-winning or Oscar-nominated actresses) playing roles in three major superhero films; Paltrow in Iron Man, Adams in Superman and Portman in Thor. All have parts that, while displaying strong and independent qualities, exist largely to support the title character on his mission. As Nathalie Atkinson of Canadian newspaper The National Post tells BBC Culture: “There isn’t a female character in comic book films right now who isn’t an accessory, occasional romantic subplot, villainous diversion or potentially fatal weakness.

Excellent point by Diana Tamblyn:

“We’re now at the point where “B” and “C” superheroes [such as Guardians of the Galaxy] are getting their own films, while one of the main heroes of the superhero canon remains on the shelf simply because she’s a female character,” says cartoonist and illustrator Diana Tamblyn. “That’s ridiculous. There’s no way I can believe there is more of a demand for these characters than for Wonder Woman, who is one of the most interesting and iconic superheroes there is.”

There was an announcement two years ago that Wonder Woman would get her own movie, but then reports that it was cancelled, now today Inquisitr.com reports that Chronicle writer Max Landis is writing a script to pitch to Warner Bros..

Community Comments

#1 Ben Carlsen
September/12/2013
@ 10:35 am

The only reason for this is fear. Movie studios are afraid to make a movie that stars a female superhero. They don’t think it will sell. It’s obvious to me that it will, as long as there’s a good story to go with it. This is normally the problem with Wonder Woman pitches. They have really bad stories. Let’s hope Max Landis can come up with something good.

#2 Justin Riley
September/12/2013
@ 12:45 pm

There is a strong female presence in the X-Men movies. There’s also the Invisible Woman from FF (hopefully the reboot will be better). Wasp and the Scarlet Witch will soon be added to the Avengers and there’s talk of a Ms. Marvel movie. BUT… until DC gets its act together, “Where the hell is Wonder Woman?”, will be a constant complaint. But I don’t want them to do a rush job. Get it right the first time! Casting is absolutely critical. I nominate JENNIFER LAWRENCE.

#3 Jim Lavery
September/13/2013
@ 7:54 am

Other than Wonder Woman what female superhero is as iconic and bankable as Superman, Spiderman, Iron Man, Batman, X-Men?Every other superhero is second or third (or fourth) tier whether male or female (Thor and Green Lantern movies didn’t rock anyone’s world any better than attempts at Supergirl and–gasp–Catwoman). The megahit superhero movies of late aim at more than 52% of the moviegoing audience. They aim for everyone and succeed. Women enjoy them as much as men (maybe not so much the violent “darker” ones) so all the energy and money go into the less riskier iconic heroes since they already have brand-name universal appeal. Any “niche” characters or stories will be riskier and won’t immediately generate the talent, funding and big names to invest in such projects. However, Wonder Woman, carefully made, could break that and maybe that’s why they’re taking their time because they’re being careful.

#4 Jeff Pert
September/13/2013
@ 8:17 am

The problem goes back to the very roots of comic book history: the vast majority of comic book creators were men, and that trend continues today. Heterosexual men in our culture are highly unlikely to create strong female characters in popular media. Until this trend—or tradition, more like it—ends, you won’t see any superhero movies with female leads.

I doubt we’ll ever see a Wonder Woman movie. Too much $ at stake. It’s why she’s been relegated to TV, most recently a version that never even got aired.

#5 Darrin Bell
September/13/2013
@ 9:31 am

@Justin Riley I don’t know… I was right with you until you nominated Jennifer Lawrence. She’s a great underdog type, but she doesn’t strike me as an intimidating Amazon. She also doesn’t look the least bit Mediterranean, and I for one want to see a daughter of Greek mythology who actually looks like she came from that region.

#6 Justin Riley
September/13/2013
@ 2:04 pm

I don’t think we have a lot to choose from. We can’t conjure her up made-to-order. It can’t be Lynda Carter, Sophia Loren, or Monica Bellucci. Wonder Woman has to be a gorgeous actress under 35 with high intelligence and a compelling presence. I’d be open to an unknown, but that seems like a dangerous crapshoot. Jennifer Lawrence is what I came up with, but after thinking about it a bit more, I’d also add Abbie Cornish to the shortlist. She’s fantastic and does intimidating better than Jennifer.

#7 Gerry Mooney
September/13/2013
@ 2:45 pm

This is a tough issue and doesn’t have so much to do with comic books, or with comics being created mostly by men. It’s difficult to write a movie with a female protagonist. Not impossible, just difficult. The template for about 99% of movies is: The protagonist, the sidekick, the girlfriend, the villain.

The protagonist must be the one to take action, to strive for the goal, and the protagonist must have a romantic interest. Unless it’s a “group protagonist” (Fantastic Four, Seven Samurai, et al.), the romantic interest can’t take action independent of the protagonist, so that means a female lead will have a male romantic interest who is essentially passive.

In Hollywoodspeak, this is a TOUGH SELL.

#8 Carl Moore
September/13/2013
@ 7:12 pm

Superhero characters, comic books, movies,etc., are all super BORRRING.

#9 birdie Birdashaw
September/15/2013
@ 12:42 pm

Thank you internet for forgetting about Barb Wire, Tank Girl, Catwoman, and Elektra…

#10 Justin Riley
September/15/2013
@ 5:49 pm

Shhhh… Birdie. You’re breaking rank.

#11 Terry LaBan
September/16/2013
@ 9:42 am

@Birdie
They probably mean movies that are watchable.

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