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She Has No Head! – The Avengers Equals Superheroine Done Right

Like many this weekend, I saw The Avengers, and was blown away. I had a lot of faith going in, since I have huge confidence in Joss Whedon, but the ensemble superhero movie (hell, even the single superhero movie) is a herculean task to get right…and so I admit to being worried. But those worries were soon put to rest. Whedon delivered on every single level, and while one could complain that there could have been more plot, or more character development, I think in the end he struck the right (and smart) balance. Had he tried to do more (he was already doing so much) I think he would have ended up actually doing less…or at least doing less right.

Most wonderful of all to me (and there was a lot of wonderful) and least surprising was Whedon’s exceptional use of Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. In a movie with this many “big” superheroes (Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, and Thor in particular) it would have been easy for a character like Black Widow, with her more subtle power profile to get lost. Not only are her powers not as spectacle driven as those above, but every one of those gents has an introductory superhero movie under their belt already (ahem, some of them have two).

But instead of getting lost, Whedon utilized Black Widow to her best. He knew exactly where to put her for maximum impact, and he let her just be her badass spy self. It worked like gangbusters and Johansson got both amazing scenes, and also a critical role in the story, rather than just some cool one-off scenes. A director less familiar with female characters and with superheroes in general, might not have been able to pull this off but for Whedon it feels effortless – because it is.

And so that leaves us with only one question…when do we get our solo Black Widow film, starring Johansson and directed by Whedon?

Marvel would be fools not to jump on the opportunity to create the first superhero franchise featuring a female character, and I don’t suppose they’d hate the idea of making Whedon and superheroines work, when DC couldn’t make it happen with their star female superhero – Wonder Woman.

So, who else is ripe to lead a film and potentially begin a franchise? And perhaps more importantly as we’ve learned with Whedon and Widow, who would be the director to do it right?

#1. BATWOMAN

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Actresses: Charlize Theron (Kate Kane) Rosario Dawson (Renee Montoya)

Kathryn Bigelow has proved that she knows how to do action including great fight scenes and chase scenes in movies like Point Break and Strange Days, and both had interesting and tough female leads, especially Angela Basset in Strange Days, but she also found a wonderful almost street level style that worked beautifully for her in The Hurt Locker. Strange Days also showed that she can handle the epic ideas and an unwieldy cast that a Batwoman movie might require. But the realistic tone she took in a film like The Hurt Locker and its military background make her a great fit. Charlize Theron is a powerful actress, and though Aeon Flux wasn’t a great movie, it shows Theron being quite comfortable with action (she also expressed interest in being Catwoman not so long ago). She’s got the right coloring (well, if anyone has Kate’s unrealistic coloring) and all it would take is some great red hair dye and we’d be there. She would quite simply be divine as Kate Kane. If she’s considered too old for the version of Kate that Hollywood wants to present I’d suggest Deborah Ann Woll from True Blood as a younger Kate alternative. Either way, Rosario Dawson as sometimes girlfriend Renee Montoya would be…in a word? Hot.

02. VALKYRIE

Director: Ridley Scott

Actress: Katee Sackhoff (Valkyrie)

Sif was one of the best things about last year’s Thor movie, and in the hands of the right director I don’t see why a Valkyrie movie couldn’t work at least as well as Thor. With Ridley Scott at the helm, the man responsible for launching just about the only existing female action hero franchise (Alien) and with a clear interest in strong female characters (G.I. Jane, Thelma & Louise, and by the looks of it, the upcoming Prometheus) Scott would be a natural fit for a female led superhero film.  Also, thanks to his massive experience, including on epic films like Blade Runner he could easily handle the spectacle of a badass warrior that rides a flying horse. Katee Sackhoff has been sadly unused since her breakthrough role on Battlestar Galactica, but I can’t think of anything more perfect as a comeback for her than a role like this.

UPDATE: Of course, if I was making this list today (2013) and not in 2012, I’d modify this to Capt. Marvel. She’s perfect as a hero to launch/anchor the first major superheroine film, and Katee Sackhoff would be an ideal Capt. Marvel.

03. JESSICA JONES (ALIAS)

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Actress: Gina Carano (Jessica Jones)

I know Jessica Jones is getting a television show, but in case that doesn’t work out, how about a film? Steven Soderbergh has said that he could never do a superhero movie because he’d want to strip down all the stuff that fans like, but I feel like Jessica Jones in Alias is an already stripped down character and there’s a lot of great non-superhero stuff to do with her, while still turning out completely awesome and very superhero-ish. Soderbergh’s recent Haywire with Gina Carano was great (though a financial failure), the action was unbelievably good, and if you haven’t seen it yet, I urge you to check it out. Her hotel fight scene with Michael Fassbender alone is worth the price of admission. Not everyone thinks Carano’s acting chops are up to snuff, but I think she’s got real promise. The risk here is that Soderberg will feel he’s already done something too similar with Haywire, but he clearly enjoyed working with Carano, and made such insightful comments regarding action movies and female stars around the making of Haywire, that I suspect he could be lured back with an interesting enough concept/script. And perhaps taking a concept with an already built in audience, might allow Soderbergh and Carano to get more interest upfront, and more asses in seats, to see them being awesome.

04. BIRDS OF PREY

Director: David Fincher

Actresses: Emma Stone (Oracle) & Kristen Bell (Black Canary)

I only cast Oracle and Black Canary here, in part just because I think they’re the core to whether this project works or not. I went with a younger Barbara and Dinah in the form of Emma Stone and Kristen Bell, in part because I just think they’re very talented actresses that would make a great team.  Kristen Bell, as anyone who has seen her on Late Night With Craig Ferguson will attest, has a wicked sense of humor, and as evidenced by her interest in The Hunger Games sequel, is open to action. Emma Stone is a versatile actress, and a hell of a redhead, and I suspect after playing Gwen Stacy in the upcoming new Spider-Man, might be ready to be the hero herself, rather than the damsel. David Fincher has long ago proven that he can do just about whatever he sets his mind to, and he’s clearly interested in layered badass female characters as evidenced by his first full-length film, Alien 3 (which I happen to like a lot more than most people), to his most recent film The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

05. NEXTWAVE: AGENTS OF H.A.T.E.

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Actresses: Naomi Harris (Monica Rambeau), Rhona Mitra (Elsa Bloodstone), and Amanda Seyfried (Boom Boom).

Using Nextwave is a bit of a cheat, since it’s not only an ensemble piece, like Birds of Prey, but also has a mixed cast (although one of the dudes is a robot…so I’m not sure if that counts) however, Monica Rambeau, Elsa Bloodstone, and Boom Boom are the heart and soul, as well of the leaders of this team, plus I just really want to see it make, okay?! Quentin Tarantino would be a great match for this film, even if he’s not one of my favorite directors as he could surely match the insanity of Warren Ellis brilliant series with ease. Naomi Harris, perhaps best known as the lead in 28 Days Later, is sadly underused and would make a hell of a Monica Rambeau, she’s also no stranger to action which is of course a bonus. Rhona Mitra is one of those actresses that seems to me like she should be a bigger star as she’s gorgeous and talented, and given her action background she’d make a great badass Elsa Bloodstone. Bonus points since she’s already British. Amanda Seyfried has done dumb to hilarious effect (Mean Girls) and I think she could capture that again but with a bit more hero and a bit less clueless to make a perfect Tabitha Smith aka Boom Boom.

Okay, I tried to stay away from Wonder Woman but in the end I couldn’t, I’m just so desperate to see her get her day. So I’m going to stick with my belief that Joss Whedon is the man for the job, even though he’s moved away from the project in more ways than one. So many actresses have been thrown out there from Gina Torres (she’d be awesome) to Megan Fox (please god, no), but for my money, no better candidate has emerged in recent years than Gemma Arterton. Make it happen Hollywood!

What are the superheroine films you all would like to see? Who has the talent, vision, and commitment to female characters needed to bring them to life in the best way possible? Who should star in them?  Sound off in the comments.

The first person to say “What?! No So and So on your list?!?!?!?” in the comments section gets killed.  ;)

49 Comments

I haven’t seen Haywire, but most of the reviewers make the crucial point that Gina Carano cannot, in fact, act. Alias seems like it would be less action-oriented and more character-oriented, so would she be the best choice? Again, I don’t know, because I haven’t seen Haywire, but what do you think?

You know, it’s funny. I always pictured Rachel McAdam as Batgirl/Oracle in a Batgirl or Birds of Prey movie. Kristen Bell is spot on as Black Canary, though, I feel.

For Wonder Woman, I kind of like Alexa Davalos. She’s nowhere near a traditional choice, but she’s good at playing strong, sexy females, I think, and she has that Greek heritage to boot.

Maverickman874

May 7, 2012 at 9:21 am

I liked Arterton when I first saw her in the Tess of the Dubervilles remake. I thought she was awful in Prince of Persia though. I think the time is ripe for a WW movie if DC wants to go the JLA route. I don’t think we will ever get a Batwoman movie and I don’t want a movie featuring a derivative either. Yeah, I am a strange Bat fan who hates the concept of “extended Bat family”. So I am glad Nolan shares my dislike for Robin et al.

Great thoughtful choices for future properties. I would watch any one of those movies.

ScarJo was awesome in Avengers. She was smart, in control, badass yet human and vulnerable. I think she stood toe-to-toe with the rest of the guys without being ridiculously overpowered or overachieving to prove that she belonged there. And never the damsel in distress, providing motivation for the male characters. I think there’s a lot of credit to be spread around for how well her character was used in the film.

Gemma Arterton. Never head of her before… well, not totally true. I saw Prince of Persia. She was decent. But it was hard for me to get around the whole “none of these people are Persian” thing. Sorry!!! Call me shallow, I guess ;} But she definitely looks perfect for the part. I can’t say I remember much about her performance.

Is it weird that my favorite of your suggestions was Seyfried as Boom Boom? I was like “YEAH!!!!! A Boom Boom movie would rule!!! YES.” I think that’s a really obvious giveaway that I started reading comics in the late 80s.

Don’t forget there’s an Alias/Jessica Jones TV pilot in the works!! That might end up being sweet.

Kelly, Emma Stone as Oracle and Gina Carano as Jessica Jones? Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

I love the idea of a Nextwave film, although I’m not so sure about your casting choices. My picks would be:

Monica Rambeau – Kerry Washington. She’s on SCANDAL right now on ABC and she always plays the Olivia Pope character SO driven, SO determined, SO filled with gravitas, that to have her combine that with Monica’s “I was an Avenger, dammit!” sense of self-importance would be hilarious.

Elsa Bloodstone – Karen Gillen. Amy Pond on DOCTOR WHO has proven that she can be cute, funny, posh, and vicious. And the coloring is right for Elsa.

Boom Boom – Amanda Seyfried. I like the idea.

And just for kicks:

Aaron Stack – Ben Stiller. Not normally a fan, but I think he could play the dickish contempt of humanity pretty well.

The Captain – Danny McBride. Because Kenny F***ing Powers needs to be a superhero and, with a little tweaking, he’d be perfect as one of the most obnoxious superheroes ever.

Dirk Anger – Nicholas Cage. If you have to ask why…you probably haven’t read NEXTWAVE.

sandwich eater

May 7, 2012 at 9:41 am

I think it would be really great if they did an origin movie for the Black Widow and Hawkeye. Black Widow was awesome in the Avengers. Her fight scenes in the Avengers were way better than they were in Iron Man 2.

I love the idea of a NEXTWAVE movie but I’m not sure on some of your casting choices. Mine would be:

Monica Rambeau – Kerry Washington. She’s on SCANDAL right now on ABC and she always plays the Olivia Pope character SO driven, SO determined, SO filled with gravitas, that to have her combine that with Monica’s “I was an Avenger!” sense of self-importance would be hilarious.

Elsa Bloodstone – Karen Gillen. Amy Pond on DOCTOR WHO has proven that she can be cute, funny, posh, and vicious. And the coloring is right for Elsa.

Boom Boom – Amanda Seyfried. I like the idea.

And just for kicks:

Aaron Stack – Ben Stiller. Not normally a fan, but I think he could play the contempt of humanity pretty well.

The Captain – Danny McBride. Because Kenny F-in’ Powers needs to be a superhero and, with a little tweaking, he’d be perfect as one of the most obnoxious superheroes ever.

Dirk Anger – Nicholas Cage. If you have to ask why…you probably haven’t read NEXTWAVE.

Hugo Sleestak

May 7, 2012 at 10:02 am

Superheroines done right??? My wife would certainly disagree. We saw the movie together, and she hated the Black Widow. Couldn’t stand her. It’s not that the Black Widow was tough. It’s that she was unlikable.

I started to wonder if there would be room for superhero comedy, the unintentional type which does not play for camp aspect either? In that area, there’s She-Hulk…
To be honest that would bomb in box offices so badly, but maybe it could be a cult comedy I’d like.

…which then brought to mind on “this would be cool” department, Blonde Phantom done as period piece in retro noir style. Again, this would bomb but could make a movie I’d like.

@AS, there’s still the kicked around Simon Pegg Ant-Man which in theory might fit the bill.

“I haven’t seen Haywire, but most of the reviewers make the crucial point that Gina Carano cannot, in fact, act.”

I have seen it, and I would disagree. She’s definitely uneven and unpolished. Some scenes fall flat, but some, she gets spot on. She has definite potential. Ultimately, her acting was no better or worse than say, Jason Statham’s, and he has a healthy career.

@Sleestak I found her very likable. They did a great job establishing why she belonged there (you wouldn’t trust interrogation or spy work to any of the core avengers really, though hawkeye in the movie canon could work as backup on spy work) and even hints of her backstory.

I don’t think a Widow movie alone would work….or well at least I’d rather see a Hawkeye/Widow movie from here on – the movie makes em a nice team.

Yeah yeah, Black Widow was fine.

But more importantly I finally got to see one of my comic book dreams realized on the big screen: Iron Man and Captain America team up to fix an engine! That’s what I’m talking about dudes! Whoever pitched the idea of having Iron Man and Captain America fix an engine for literally ten or fifteen minutes of the movie, high five: you made my day.

Jess: That’s kind of my point. I wouldn’t exactly put Jason Statham in a movie that requires him to act, and I love Jason Statham. My point was that Alias, as a faithful comic book adaptation, seems more character-driven than action-driven. From the few scenes I saw of Haywire, I’m sure Gina Carano would kick ass in more action movies, and if someone wants to do that with Alias, more power to them. I’m not sure that’s the kind of movie it should be, though.

Jess: That’s kind of my point. I wouldn’t exactly put Jason Statham in a movie that requires him to act, and I love Jason Statham. My point was that Alias, as a faithful comic book adaptation, seems more character-driven than action-driven. From the few scenes I saw of Haywire, I’m sure Gina Carano would kick ass in more action movies, and if someone wants to do that with Alias, more power to them. I’m not sure that’s the kind of movie it should be, though.

Hey, I didn’t know it could post twice. That’s weird. Sorry!

Gina Carano is one of those people that you look at and think “this person MUST appear in a superhero movie” – like the Rock or Jason Statham or Chiwetel Ejiofor – but when you think about it, you just can’t come up with the right character. Maybe Renee Montoya, in a movie that focuses more on her as the Question than as a GCPD detective?

Kelly, I would put this on the fanfic section of comicbookmovie.com–they’d love this.

“…haven’t seen Haywire, but most of the reviewers make the crucial point that Gina Carano cannot, in fact, act.”

Take into account the following CRUCIAL and accredited FACTS:
-Haywire was a freshman (1st) effort
-Carano under a mandate of no acting coach prep by the ever so eccentric Steven Soderbergh
-critics reviewed the Carano led film to reach an 80% RottenTomatoes.com score:
Richard Roeper:
”Gina Carano makes a spectacular debut…a few line readings are a bit flat, but she has an enormously appealing, natural screen presence…think The Rock, only way cuter…a memorable debut”
Mark Kermode:
“I thought she (Gina Carano) did terrific…she has fantastic screen presence.”
Leonard Maltin:
“Gina Carano, who looks great, handles dialogue well, and knows how to kick butt…Carano shows real promise as an action star-in-the-making.”
Associated Press – Lemire:
“Her dialogue may seem a bit stiff…but she has tremendous presence.”
CNN (Rabinowitz):
“but she’s not (yet) all that adept with her lines…She’s got a bag full of charisma and her physical acting (beyond the fighting) is excellent…knows how to look natural on camera (not an easy task)
LA Times (Sharkey):
“Carano might be able to do just fine with a role that didn’t rest so heavily on fighting…There are glimpses as well of an active interior life behind that flirty smile”
MSN (Rocchi):
“As an actress, she’s in the same boat as, for but one example, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson: I wouldn’t want to watch either of them take one of the lead roles in “Hamlet,” but they’re easy to watch, physically magnetic and possessed of a grace in action that one cannot shop for, study or steal.”
Philadelphia Inquirer (Rea):
“Carano’s line-readings could use honing, but she has presence, and grace, and grace under pressure.”
Roger Ebert:
”Carano can hold her own…I expect her to become a considerable box-office success, because the fact is, within a limited range, she’s good.”

-and there’s the lil tidbit about how EVERYONE other than her will be stunt-double quick-cutted and/or Jason Bourne shaky cam’d shot to death.

Jesus F.J, is she your sister or something? Most of those facts seem to say that she cannot, in fact, act. I don’t really care – there are many very famous actors who cant’t act very well, but man – that seems like a lot of work just to refute a subjective opinion. But hey, whatever. Nobody has answered my real question, which is: Does anyone think she has the range to portray Jessica Jones in a movie that doesn’t require her to kick ass all the time?

Not Jessica Jones, not yet; that’s the best I can say for Carano. If she builds on the raw material that all those critics mention, yes — otherwise, it would look like Dolph Lundgren Punisher in drag.

I know John Carter was a bomb (undeservedly so, IMO), but I did come away from it with the impression Lynn Collins would be an awesome Diana — and if Brad Bird is going to make a career in live-action now, I can’t think of a better director. His animated superhero films were more gripping than just about any live-action versions.

It seems like kicking ass and covering up is all it takes to impress you, Ms. Thompson. This kind of cheerleading shows just how low you set the bar for female characters.

I think Deborah Ann Woll would make a far better Oracle/Batgirl than Emma Stone while Batwoman needs to go to someone older. Here Barb is a spitting image of DAW-

http://blog.amsvans.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/batgirl-barbara-gordon-disabled-2.jpg

Greg Burgas: “Wow, that’s alot, I must be dealing with a fan here. I hope its a rant, darn. no such luck…Hmm let me skip the first 4 lines altogether; they don’t look help my cause….Whoa, look at all these reviews! I didn’t think anyone would call me out on proof!…Hey, hey now, wait a minute, there’s not just compliments there refuting the anecdotal factoid I noted, based on zero research. I’ll just read those…Naw, I don’t gotta be equitable and recognize those positive parts, that’s not my style. Plus, that way I can say this F.J proved me right…Yeah that’s what I’ll say!…Oh yeah, gotta get my signature line of “in fact” in. Gawd I love that, it takes the place of pesky things like: proof, referencing, and objectivity…Oh wait a minute, WTF! All the ‘can’t act’ stuff has asterisks to em’! Both the good & bad was within a first try and a weird condition! It ALL boils down to that she wasn’t a ‘perfect’ natural her 1st time out!…Uhh, think Greg, think…Alright, just feign some indifference, divert attention. Say F.J did ALOT of work just to refute lil old you.”

F.J: Hey, that’s great. I still don’t quite understand how you’re putting me in my place. My original comment mentioned that I hadn’t seen the movie but almost everything I had read about it said that she can’t act. You gave me some facts that mitigated that, sure. Then you gave me a bunch of quotes that basically said that she has presence but can’t act. My one question, which only one person has bothered to answer, is: Do you think Carano would be good as Jessica Jones. If you’ve seen Haywire (which you obviously have) and have read Alias (which you may or may not have, as you haven’t said anything about it), then you can answer my question. I appreciate Becca saying that right now, Carano isn’t good enough, but maybe she will be someday. That’s great that you hit me with all these quotes and all this “objectivity” – reviews are objective now? – but the only thing I was curious about was whether Carano would be a good fit as Jessica Jones. One sentence would have answered my question. What do you say? I’m actually fairly curious to hear if you’ve read Alias and think she would be a good fit. I don’t give a rat’s ass about what Richard Roeper had to say about her performance in Haywire, because Richard Roeper isn’t commenting here and I doubt if he’s read Alias.

Some PRETTY bad dreamcasting and a whole lot of Never Gonna Happen in this post/thread. On top of F.J. apparently losing his mind…

Nice Wonder Woman choice though. I really hope we get a Black Widow movie, and I think Elektra, Zatanna, Shanna the She-Devil and Catwoman could be done really well too. That’s about it for female superheroes I’d be interested in seeing in solo outings/think have the potential to be any good though. Like Maverickman874 I can’t stand the whole Batfamily thing…

Nextwave would be awesome too (I’d rather see that than Deadpool) and I like a couple of the ideas too!

Monica Rambeau – Naomie Harris
Elsa Bloodstone – Abbie Cornish
Boom Boom – Amanda Seyfried
Aaron Stack – Adam Brody
The Captain – Simon Pegg

Oh, and Jon Hamm as Dirk Anger because of reasons.

[F.J. blows an hour googling for Roeper's comments about Alias. Finds a few references to Jennifer Garner].

Travis Pelkie

May 9, 2012 at 12:39 am

All I gotta say is the notion of Charlize Theron/Rosario Dawson scenes in that Batwoman movie is giving me naughty naughty thoughts.

And an Emma Stone/Kristen Bell BoP? oohh

I think this is the best SHNH column ever!

Off the top of my head, though, isn’t it Katee Sackhoff, or am I misremembering?

@Greg Burgas:

“some facts that mitigated that, sure. Then you gave me a bunch of quotes that basically said that she has presence but can’t act.” 
-Those facts mitigate the reviewer criticisms, like it or not. They preface the reviews for a reason! & you also can’t separate the noted screen-presence, charisma, grace, etc. from an overall acting review statement. The notations of flat line readings (not included in all reviews & are definitely not complete) are apart of it, not the whole. “can’t act” is simply not the overall call from reviewers. Still not convinced? …

“I appreciate Becca saying that right now, Carano isn’t good enough, but maybe she will be someday.”
-Your agreement with her estimation of remedy/progression only reveals the corner you put yourself in. Obviously, a basic ‘can’t act’ call is insufficient as optimistic prediction material, so the ‘building’ she referred to must be on ‘screen-presence’ part (you noted), not on the ‘basically…can’t act’ part, right? It turns out that I appreciate Becca (more)

“That’s great that you hit me with all these quotes and all this “objectivity” – reviews are objective now?”
-Its also great that someone who referred to the reviews as “facts” is now nitpicking my cheeky retort! typos on both our parts (you 1st)

As a result of our convo, you IN FACT, can no longer re-post your initial statement.
& btw, those reviews are from a fan-site who compiled them (& more). It took but moments to cut & paste, not much longer than your question attempts, of which I never had interest.

@dennis Like the bar is set SO HIGH for male superhero movies. LOL.

A few thoughts
1) You can argue that Gina Carano can act, but she can’t. Maybe she can in the future but she can’t right now. And even if she can get to a certain level of ability I’m not sure that she’d be able to pull off the nuance required for Jessica Jones.
2) Emma Stone however could. She’s a bit too young now but since it would take a half decade for this to even happen (where is that TV show anyway?) so what does it matter?
3) Charlize Theron is a good choice for Batwoman. Rosario Dawson is a better choice for Renee Montoya.

Kelly, my choice for a project would be Heroes for Hire with Misty and Colleen. Gina Torres as Misty, Lucy Liu as Colleen, Quentin Tarantino for director. Yes the casting is on the older side, so what?

F.J: Well, you still didn’t answer my question, so keep posting if you want, but I’m done. Thanks!

Steven R. Stahl

May 9, 2012 at 8:52 am

Picking a heroine to promote, and then looking for a heroine to play her, a director for the film, etc., might seem natural for a comics fan, but it’s the same mindset as trying to come up with a vehicle for a celebrity: the story is secondary to the star. A better story will result if a screenwriter works with others on a story in a particular genre, and then they cast the film, and so on.

The latter approach would work for comics heroines; it’s just a matter of adjusting the plot, the heroine’s characteristics, the supporting cast, the theme, etc. to fit the particular heroine. However, that approach does require coming up with the story concept first.

SRS

Darn it, Greg — I was hoping to see an old-fashioned duel over who appreciated me more! (bats eyes)

@Sue (DCWKA)

The one’s from Marvel Studios have been pretty solid. Better than Fox and Sony, anyway.

I was referring to Scarlett and the Black Widow, not the film itself. Hers was easily the worst performance in the film, and she ties with Hawkeye for crappiest character. But she escaped her bondage scene on her own and didn’t flaunt too much T&A, so Kelly “Broke back! Broke back!” Thompson considers it a great victory in the imaginary comic book gender wars.

Her analyses of female characters are embarrassingly superficial. The more all-powerful and androgynous they are, the more she loves them. If the Silver Surfer were a little skinnier, she’d have started a religion dedicated to his worship by now.

@Dennis – so basically this is “you like what I don’t like” as far as Scarlett in the movie since you embarrassingly superficial analysis of Black Widow consisted of “crappiest” without any insight or support.

And while you may think that Kelly is alone in thinking this is important in the gender wars you’re wrong. Here’s evidence an article from the Atlantic. I take you’ve heard of it?

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/05/scarlett-johansson-has-the-most-human-moment-in-the-avengers/256822/

There’s lots more where that came from.

Finally, I’d recommend you reevaluate your definition of “superficial” as applied to Kelly unless you mean thoughtful and eloquent because yours, to borrow a word, is the “crappiest”.

XXOO Sue

Steven R. Stahl

May 9, 2012 at 8:14 pm

The Atlantic article was interesting, but Snyder might have been reaching to find similarities between the Black Widow vs. the Hulk and real-life women facing challenges. If the Avengers are a group of alpha males, it’s because the heroes are a collection of power fantasies, not because the writer intends to deal with real-life themes. The idea of the Hulk being a hero in any intellectual sense is ridiculous; the classic, stupid green-skinned Hulk prevailed over villains, not because he was heroic, but because they made stupid blunders, they couldn’t deal with his strength, or the writer would have the Hulk get mad and increase his strength to whatever level was needed.

Writing superheroines well isn’t any more difficult than it is to write women in SF stories well. It’s a matter of balancing realistic characteristics with the fantastic powers, and not writing everyone as alphas. The use of powers should include some subtleties and not always be brute force.

SRS

@SRS – But is it fair to say that the film could indeed be doing some of what Snyder is alluding to? This is a Joss Whedon film and he’s a writer who has 1) shown his ability to explore big world themes through superhero and action characters (I am of course referring to Buffy) and is has a reputation for writing female heros. If the script were by another writer you might say this is looking for meaning. But Whedon? Makes me all the more regretful that he couldn’t get his Wonder Woman film made five years ago.

Maura Tierney has always been the best choice for Jessica Jones, even if no one’s realized it.

She’s probably too old by network standards to star in the show, though.

Alack…

@Sue (DCWKA)

You consider “let her just be her badass spy self” and “amazing scenes” to be thoughtful and eloquent commentary?

Really?

And your argument for why Black Widow was great is the scene where she cowers in fear after being saved from the monster by the male hero? The “damsel in distress” is “superheroine done right”?

I think I’ll let 60s cartoon Spider-Man respond to that one…

http://oyster.ignimgs.com/wordpress/write.ign.com/64763/2012/04/what-is-this-i-dont-even-spiderman.jpg

Katee Sakhoff would be my pick for Maggie in Gotham Central or Batwoman.
In terms of a Black Widow movie I’d love to see it be Black Widow and Hawkeye. Their relationship (and more generally how fleshed out they became in such a large ensemble) was my most pleasant surprise in Avengers.

@Sue (DCWKA)
“You can argue that Gina Carano can act, but she can’t. Maybe she can in the future but she can’t right now.”
-If the blunt “can/can’t act” distinction must be used, I’d say there are asterisks for both, & ‘can act’/future (post debut) optimism has the support of accredited reviewers.

@GregBurgas
good luck finding an answer & try not to be so stubbornly argumentative in the future, especially when you, in fact, have but nondescript contention.

When I saw Gemma Arterton in “Tamara Drewe” (great adaptation of the graphic novel)…I thought she’d make a great Wonder Woman. She’s got the physicality and exotic looks..and can act. Give her some blue contacts and SCORE!

Matthew Clark

May 15, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Yo Kelly, it WAS super encouraging to see Scarlett Johansson in a skin-tight jumpsuit make it through the movie without becoming just the “token hot chick.” Like you said, if anyone could be trusted to pull it off it’s Whedon.

I debated whether it was worth joining the rank of nitpickin fanboys down here but there is one casting decision you made that I just gotta contest. As one of the few female characters with a disability in all of Comicdom and the only one with any prominence whatsoever, it’s simply not right for Barbara Gordon to be played by an able-bodied actress. The only reason I bring this up is because I think you might listen; dissecting media representation is what you do. Since this column’s a hypothetical, intellectual exercise intended to get people talking to begin with it seems like a good place to introduce another POV into the mix.

If it was decided that an actress with a disability would not play Oracle it would be virtually impossible for her to find a role in any other movie Marvel, DC or any other comic company brings to the big screen. Would anyone think of casting an actress who uses a wheelchair to play Wonder Woman? Ms. Marvel? Gert? Hell no. How about civillian, non-combatant characters like Lois Lane, Betty Brant or Karen Page? Never. Anyone who follows you online would agree that Comics would be better off if they reflected the diversity of the real world. If an actress with a disability was passed over to play Babs it’s a safe bet to say that there wouldn’t be ANY female characters with apparent disabilities in the entire combined canon of comic-book films. Is there really no room for an actress in a wheelchair in all of Comics? I sure hope that’s not the case.

So everyone can agree that there are very few characters with disabilities in Comics, especially female characters who kick ass. You yourself took care of addressing that by including Oracle in your hypothetical movieverse to begin with. So now let’s talk about casting.

When it comes to the acting world, as Thee6Mafia says, “It’s hard out here for a gimp.” The Screen Actors Guild, Actors’ Equity Association and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG, AEA & AFTRA, the three organizations that represent actors of stage, screen and radio) found in their annual report that “characters with disabilities will represent less than 1 percent of all scripted series regular characters—five characters out of 647—on the broadcast networks.”* Even worse? “In addition, only one of the five actors has a known disability.”* So 1 out of 647. Pretty dire for a group that makes up 12% of the population*. So while it’s bad enough that there are so few characters with disabilities to begin with, the fact that actors with disabilities are overwhelmingly passed over to PLAY these characters is even worse.

We’ve all seen how shamefully ugly message boards can get when it comes to diversity in comics. From Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin to “making” Northstar gay, people tend to go crazy over this stuff. For members of the disability community, the battle isn’t over just having more representation – it’s for the “privilege” of portraying THEMSELVES when those few and far between roles even come along. When an able-bodied actor is cast as a disabled character it’s often said that “acting is acting and the best actor got the job.” But funny how that hardly ever works the other way around; how often is an actor with a disability cast to play a character that was originally written as able-bodied?

All that said, actress Teal Sherer does a better job expressing the idea in this short video than I have in this massive post (and yes, she really is a paraplegic): http://youtu.be/ByApOU31cx8 I’d love to hear your thoughts.

*you can read the report and find out more about SAG, AEA and AFTRA’s efforts to increase representation of disability on their website, http://www.iampwd.org/home

Michelle Rodriguez would make a fantastic Montoya.

John Klein III

July 10, 2012 at 3:24 pm

I always wanted Natalie Portman to play Kitty Pryde, maybe if they ever adapt Shadow & Flame, that would be awesome plus CGI Lockheed would be awesome! Wish they’ll give us a Pet Avengers animated film or series as I just want a stuff Lockheed on my bed.

If they adapted Kitty Pryde & Wolverine, I think Portman and Hugh Jackman would look good side by side, also if they ever made a Whedon Astonishing X-Men live action movie, she would really work great in that setting as an older Pryde compared to Ellen Page’s more teenager appearance.

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