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She Has No Head! – Dear Marvel: Please Stop Ruining Everything

Instead of wooing Johansson with everything they have, Marvel's Chief Creative Officer says that there are no actresses available to carry a tentpole film, and no Marvel female characters either. Good to know!

Though some of my columns from 2012 have apparently been a bit controversial it’s been a long time since I engaged in a full on rant. Are you ready for it? Good.


Still high from my Avengers viewing a couple weeks ago I was working on a post for today called “Black Widow: Required Reading” when I happened to check out Sue’s DC Women Kicking Ass site and stumbled across this gem from Joe Quesada via Ain’t It Cool News:

In a chat afterwards, Joe told me that he’d love to make a tentpole [sic] movie with a female lead, but that he really doesn’t think there is an actress right now who could carry it, or a character that would work either. I’m thinking I might agree with him on this one actually.

As Sue said, this sentiment from Quesada manages to both insult all of Marvel’s female characters and all actresses everywhere in one fell swoop. But even more impressive is the fact that less than two weeks ago a movie debuted that is destroying box office records everywhere AND getting huge critical and fan acclaim.  A movie with a large ensemble cast, that stars, in part, one of Marvel’s greatest female superheroes, and one of Hollywood’s hottest young actresses, and this character and performance are also getting huge kudos.  I speak of course of The Avengers, and Black Widow, and Scarlett Johansson.

So how is the immediate reaction from Quesada (and from any sane, intelligent person, that lives on the planet earth) not something more like: “Well, obviously we’d love to build a franchise around The Black Widow and Scarlett Johansson and since Johansson has expressed interest, Whedon has a long history and love for female superheroes, and the fans are responding in kind, I think we all hope that that’s going to happen. And who knows what might happen after that?”

Yes…Marvel, can you please give me a job in your Public Relations department stat. Because this is not fucking rocket science.

You don’t have to study film to come up with that answer. You don’t have to be deep in comics to have that answer. You don’t have to be an advocate for female positivity to come up with that answer. You just have to have a brain, a mouth, and to have seen the Avengers movie.

This is someone IN CHARGE of things. And we wonder why this industry continues to be painfully broken.

I have long proclaimed on this column, and everywhere else, that you don’t have to re-make the comics industry to get women to come along. You don’t have to drape it in pink and ponies and princesses (although ponies ARE cool) in order to bring in more women readers. You have to just stop being so goddamn offensive at every opportunity you’re given.  You have to stop saying things that make you look uneducated and sexist whenever you get asked about female characters. You have to stop finding new ways to say “no girls allowed.”  Really, you need to stop THINKING things that mean “no girls allowed.”

I wrote a post just after Avengers released about some movies I’d like to see about superheroines on the heels of the success of Black Widow in Avengers. Three of the five films I picked were Marvel based. In fact, had I the time to do my original list of ten, seven of my ten were Marvel based. I even went so far in my post to cast the film and assign directors. I wrote that column over the weekend in my free time, but Quesada, who works for Marvel and is PAID to think about these kind of things, thought enough about this issue to know that there’s not only not a single female property in the Marvel Universe worthy of a franchise, but that there’s not a single actress in the actual universe capable of doing justice to these female properties. I don’t want to get into how that makes no sense…how can there not be an actress capable of carrying a female superhero franchise when there’s not a female superhero worthy of carrying a franchise. If that argument is not the fucking snake that eats itself I don’t know what is.

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Let’s just take a look at some of those actresses unworthy of portraying those (also unworthy?) Marvel female characters (and these are just a handful of amazing talented ladies I pulled together on a Sunday afternoon…I think we all know this barely scratches the surface):

Apparently none of you ladies are good enough for Joe Quesada.

Oh yes, we are definitely suffering from a lack of acting talent, beauty, variety, charisma, strength, and power that would be necessary for these non-existent female superhero franchises. C’MON.

Has anyone from DC or Marvel comics said anything quite this stupid lately?  Wait…strike that…this is an industry in which people are constantly rewarded for stupidity, so I guess the answer is probably yes.  But the person who said this is not some unpaid idiot blogger/fan (like me) or some intern, or some writer or artist off on his own, this is Marvel’s CCO – Chief Creative Officer – not to mention former Editor-in-Chief.  How can someone so clueless be in charge of things as important as this stuff…hell, how can someone this clueless be in charge of ANYTHING?

Comics. You have to do better. I’m begging you.

You cannot continue to let the people in powerful positions of your organization say such galactically stupid shit that alienates female fans, fans of your beloved characters, and every actress in Hollywood, including the one you should currently be BEGGING to begin a franchise with at this very minute. I’d like to go so far as to say you should make sure not to HIRE people and PROMOTE them when they obviously feel this way about female characters (and every actress on the planet) since that would make the REAL difference at Marvel…but since that seems unlikely I’ll at least beg you to stop letting them actively promote these ideas to the press and whoever else will listen to them.

This latest “almost quote” is nearly the same as the galactically stupid and offensively sexist stuff Quesada said a few years back that actually first propelled me to writing critically about comics and it’s disappointing to realize that in the last few years he has learned nothing. However, this is far more alarming than the offensive drivel he said during the “Marvel Divas” fiasco, because he’s saying this in direct opposition to the success of a BILLION dollar movie. Sure, Black Widow and Scarlett Johansson aren’t the sole reason Avengers has gone on to make 1.07 billion dollars in less than three weeks, but she’s part of it. The character (and Johansson’s performance) are receiving great praise, and since she’s the only character in the film other than Hawkeye that hasn’t had her own movie (or three) it speaks even more to how impressive the character and performance was.

Apparently none of these ladies who have anchored successful movies (and franchises) - beginning with the mother of all female led action franchises - Ripley - make an impression on Mr. Quesada either

How can anyone look around at some of the recent successes we’ve been seeing in film – Avengers, Hunger Games, Bridesmaids, etc. and deny that women and girls have media power?  They are 50% of the goddamn population. They have a lot of money to spend. And creating great work that speaks to them and doesn’t talk down to them is going to net you the kind of success that some of these films have seen in the last couple years.  Reports are coming in that 40% of the Avengers audience is female. FORTY PERCENT. To deny that this is the way things are headed is insanity and you do so at your peril. Sure it’s going to take time, but it’s going to catch up with you. There are signs that this is where we’re heading every day. Rather than fighting it, why the hell don’t you want to get in front of it? Capitalize on it? Make bucket loads of cash by getting their first?

Do you HATE MONEY? Because this is the CONSTANT excuse I hear for why female projects don’t get made – that they can’t make enough money. So make up your mind – which is it?

There’s this frequent refrain when people talk about box office successes and failures that horrible films like Elektra and Catwoman prove that female led action/superhero films don’t work. But that’s patently absurd (as I discussed in a bit more detail here) if we blamed box office failures on the gender of the star we’d simply have no films. There are thousands upon thousands of failing films with male leads, but nobody suggests that we stop making them because people don’t want to see movies with male stars…because that would be INSANE. Sometimes movies are just bad and don’t work. That doesn’t mean you stop making all movies.

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I’ve seen some chatter about how it’s bullshit that Joss Whedon is getting all the credit for Black Widow’s role in Avengers and let me just clarify – the performance is absolutely Johansson’s. She did a wonderful job bringing Natasha to life. But there’s a reason people are focusing on Whedon when they talk about this. Because Whedon is going to be the one that gets to drive forward the next project, not Johansson. That’s how this works. Whedon now has a massive undeniable success under his belt and so now he’s going to have some freedom to call his own shots. The creators, the directors, the money men, they’re the ones that have the power to get these things on screen, and since they’re primarily men, it explains a lot about why we have the movies we have and why we don’t have the movies we don’t.  And it’s why it’s important to call out someone as talented as Whedon with the values he has for characters and storytellers and yes, feminism, and to celebrate him. Because there are far more Quesadas than Whedons.

And one of them is not furthering this cause at all.  One of them is dragging us the fuck down.


Aaron Bourque

May 21, 2012 at 9:20 am

I was gonna say something flippant and stupid and probably more than a little sexist, but fuck it. I want a good She-Hulk movie. I want a good Ms Marvel movie. I want a good Squirrel Girl movie. I want a good Hellcat, Tygra, any-goddamn-thing movie. And not just Marvel! I want a good Wonder Woman movie! A good Supergirl movie! A good Black Canary movie! A good Argent movie! Starfire! Raven! What the hell, Hollywood. You put someone good and respectful at the helm of the damn thing and LET THEM WORK, not trying to micromanage the movie into processed crap, MAYBE YOU WILL HAVE A GOOD MOVIE THAT PEOPLE WANT TO GO SEE???

I may be giving Joey da Q too much credit with what I’m about to say… but I’d like to hope I’m not!!

I think he said what he said intentionally, knowing that it would get discussion going and fuel a lot passionate rants. He’s been Marvel’s mouthpiece for over a decade now, and after some of the crazy things he’s said, I think he knows what will and will not get people going. I think his comment is an intentional attempt to inspire ire and provoke people into creating petitions and campaigns akin to the Donald Glover for Spider-Man thing.

That doesn’t change the fact that it was an ignorant thing to say — even as a joke — but I think it was a beneficial statement because it’ll get everybody hot and bothered to make a lot of buzz about a female-led Marvel film… bringing things like Angie Harmon’s request to play She-Hulk that much closer to reality!!

Apparently Joe Quesada fell out of the short bus when he said that.

Hollywood is such a creature of groupthink and (often ridiculous) unspoken rules. Quesada’s been tied into the machine for years now. It was definitely the “safe” thing for him to say when it comes to the people he has to deal with every day taking him seriously. I don’t think it was either the brave or interesting (or even necessarily true) thing to say though. I’m not going to hold it against him too much, though. It’s self-preservation in a toxic environment.

There’s some hope percolating that Hunger Games’ success, but I’d believe it when i see it.

Just like an Avengers movie. I didn’t believe that until I saw it either. And it was really nice when I did.

Quesada and his sychophantic sidekick, Tom Breveroot think that Marvel Comics is and should be a boys club only company. They occasionally throw a female-centic book out there, seemingly to appease any accusations of being sexist. The Dark Phoenix Saga is probably one of Marvel’s most revered stories. Ask Jean Grey/Phoenix fans how Marvel treats them. The character with possibly the biggest potential to become THE iconic Marvel female goes to waste because of these idiots.

“This is someone IN CHARGE of things. And we wonder why this industry continues to be painfully broken.”

Probably the most damning of all the points you make here. The problem they’re running into is the false belief they’d need to make the same sort of movie for Black Widow as they did for IM, Cap, Hulk, or Thor. The reality is it’s a different sort of character, so they could movie in a different direction for her (I’m thinking Angelina Jolie’s actions films like Salt or Wanted–though she wasn’t the lead).

Further, I think it’d be really interesting to do a superhero genre movie with the lead who is NOT a superhero. Kind of a similar approach as The Incredibles or Bendis & Oemings’ Powers where viewers / readers had the chance to take a look behind the curtain, so to speak, and see what the superhero life is like from a different perspective. Her role as an agent of Shield would certainly afford the opportunity for an espionage flick along the lines of the Bourne series with capes in the background.

But as you point out, it will take some innovative changes in thinking before these sort of decision can be made.

I would be very interested in a Black Widow movie. I didn’t care for her part in Iron Man 2, but she became a more defined character in Avengers.
Since I haven’t read any Black Widow solo titles, it’s hard to say what such a movie would look like. I think I’d rather see her in a spy/espionage type story than a traditional superhero story.

Otherwise, I’ve often felt that the Firestar limited series would make a good movie – perhaps an animated one. And She-Hulk could potentially make a great movie, although it’s hard to say how successful it would be.

Joe Q is definitely looking more and more clueless. The fact that he has “creative” in his job title but is this closed-minded is really damning.

I’m not sure that this would be considered a tentpole film, but what about adapting Eric Jerome DIckey, David Yardin and Lan Medina’s STORM graphic novel into a movie? It’s a mature, sophisticated story that could be a compelling film. With superheroes.

Try again with ELEKTRA: ASSASSIN, but keep it faithful to the source and keep it hardcore.

Michael Jeter

May 21, 2012 at 9:36 am

I wholeheartedly agree and have been hoping for a Widow movie since I heard about this project. I have heard rumors of a Widow/Hawkeye movie, which is fine in itself, but cannot take the place of the backstory you could do with solo movies for each.

My only regret is that they elected to let the Widow use pistols, when the “Widows Sting” “bracelets were clearly on her wrists. Also, weren’t the buckles on her belt supposed to be plastic explosives or something? Why were these weapons not utilized?

There are SO MANY Marvel female heroes who could actually carry their own movie. You could easily do a Carol Danvers/Ms. Marvel one (with maybe someone like Jennifer Morrison playing the role) which starts out with her as an agent of SHIELD, finding the Psyche-Magnetron, and turning into Ms. Marvel – – and this could help feed into the Thanos/cosmic stuff in Avengers 2.

A Hellcat movie with Daimon Hellstrom would also work really well and (given his Darksoul/Son of Satan status, could maybe help pull in some of that Twilight crowd.)

She-Hulk, obviously, would also work very well as a solo hero.

You could even delve further into Marvel’s history and pull out characters like Blonde Phantom, who was more pulpy/noir detective stories, and really make something work there.

Marvel’s really just being stupid and not utilizing their catalogue of female heroes.

(Same with DC, really.)

Clap. Clap. Clap.

Well said. My wife LOVES comic book movies despite not being a comic book reader and thought Avengers was amazing. How can someone not see Uma Thurmon in Kill Bill or Angelina Jolie in, well, anything, and not say a female can’t carry a comic book movie? Would a Black Widow flick make $1B? No, but only 11 other movies besides Avengers have. The Iron Mans, Thor, and Cap were great lead-ins to Avengers because they were well-known stand-alone characters. Now that BW has been introduced to the masses, why not make a stand-alone for her? Here’s something novel: make the BW movie and have the MALE superhero (Hawkeye) be the side character. Thinking like this is why it took Marvel so long to make a decent comic book movie. DC is making one of their lead characters an open homosexual and Marvel thinks girls are icky. Nice.

What I especially enjoyed is how he demeaned ALL WORKING ACTRESSES because apparently they can’t carry a movie. You sound like an out-of-touch douchebag, Joe Quesada, because…well…you are a sexist, out-of-touch douchebag.

I agree with your larger point, Kelly, and I found Quesada’s statement to be short-sighted and depressing.

I do wonder if part of the problem is that Marvel’s strongest female characters aren’t Marvel’s to use in their own movies.

Michael Jeter

May 21, 2012 at 9:52 am

Aaron Borque, if we are going to have a Tygra and Hellcat movie, let’s throw in Valkyire and make the movie I am waiting for: Not another X -Men or Avengers, though I enjoy them. Let’s have – get ready for it – a Defender’s Movie/franchise, with the requisite combination of action, irreverence and insider jokes(One might argue that the Avenger’s film is, essentially a Defender’s film: a group of heroes who actually can’t stand each other but hang out long enough to kick inter – terrestrial/supernatural butt, then go their separate ways.

I’ve heard that Patrick Dempsey is a Doctor Strange fan.

@nick marino He said it in a conversation with a reporter after the panel so I’m not sure your theory fits.

This needs to be brought up to the public to where Joe Quesada is put on the hot seat and forces Marvel AND Disney to decide if this man should continue to represent the industry. He is one of many clueless dumbasses that are choking the life out of comics (among other forms of media) due to their inability to see beyond their narrow-minded view of the world. Hell, Disney/PIXAR are going to release Brave with a female lead and one of their “employees” just shot himself in the foot by saying women cannot carry their own movies. We should not have to suffer for the mistakes of the past made by idiots who couldn’t grasp the concept of a great female lead.

If you want to see this rectified (or longing for a way overdue karmic punch to the back of Joe Q’s head), contact John Lasseter (chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios), Robert Iger (CEO of Disney), and every major figurehead of Disney and Marvel that will listen. Get in touch with them via email, Twitter, Facebook, and by the contact information of their companies (I’ll post some of these links below). Ask each of them if Joe Quesada is the right man for the job if he’s going to treat women like this.

The only way things are going to change is not ignoring the problem, thinking it will go away on its own. The only way people like Joe Q are made to realize their comments do more harm than good is if you grab the industry by the horns and force it to change its attitude towards women.




Mr. Q

@Sue: True. But it was an AICN reporter!!! Joe Q had to have known that anything was fair game and that he’d be reaching a huge audience. The fact that it was AICN makes it seem more plausibly intentional to me.

Looking at Marvels sales last month I think he(Joe Q) has a point. They don’t really have any headlining female leads near the top like DC has Wonder Woman. They should fix that because some of their females could lead their own comic near the top, but currently no one is. They could still make a good movie with Black Widow or another but they’d have a lot more work to do.


May 21, 2012 at 10:11 am

It’s just difficult to confirm the intent for a statement when you don’t have it recorded word for word and when you paraphrase someones answer and without listening to the exact exchange. He could be referring to Marvel Studios three year plans leading up to the inevitable Avengers sequel which don’t involve them working on a female tent-pole since he is privy to the fact what the second movie for 2014 will be.

Odds are that it’s Wright’s Ant man movie. But a blanket statement, if indeed said like that, that does him no good. If his sentiment is that a female solo outing would be a harder sell at this point in time of their three /four year plan then I agree with him.

As far as Scarlett is concerned, Marvel Studios is pretty renowned for their belt tightening and like the rest of the cast she is signed for a multi-film options which Marvel might exercise or not. If they write her character into a script, she will show up.

There is nothing ignorant or stupid or lame about Quesada’s comments and he has much more access to Hollywood and the going’s on therein than Kelly or any of the commenters myself included will ever have.

Taking a look at some of the actresses that Kelly claims would be perfect for a Marvel superhero franchise we get the following:

Jennifer Lawrence. Seriously the only reason she’s listed is because Hunger Games made a kajillion dollars. But Hunger Games didn’t make a kajillion dollars because Jennifer Lawrence is the star. It made a kajillion dollars because it is an adaptation of a book that has sold a kajillion copies, plus having a huge number of much high grade actors in it, plus having spent half a kajillion dollars whoring out the damn thing every five goddman seconds.

Sigourney Weaver: This is a joke right? She was on the downside of her career when she made Alien3. Her career high point was Aliens and that’s 25 years ago. You might as well throw Linda Hamilton’s name in the mix if you’re putting Weaver out there. There days as A-list superstars able to pull in major box office are decades behind them.

Milla Jovovich: Who? Seriously, who? You ask 100 people on the street who she is, I promise you 90 of them will have no goddamn clue. She’s D-List on her best day.

Uma Thurman Seriously? Kill Bill is nearly 10 years old and she was a washed up has been even before that. It was supposed to rebirth her career ala Travolta and Pulp Fiction and nothing happened.

Angelina Jolie: Again, someone on the downside of her box office career. Salt was a minor disaster box office wise.

As for the cast of Bridesmaid’s please. Just don’t even go there.

Tom Fitzpatrick

May 21, 2012 at 10:12 am

I pretty much stopped paying attention to anything that Joe Q does or says after the no marriage Spider-man/MJ fiasco.

Seeing a Black Widow film with ScarJo in it would be a no-brainer. Although, isn’t there a film called Black Widow with Debra Winger and Theresa Russell?

Michael Jeter

May 21, 2012 at 10:13 am

Kurt Bali: what DC character are you referring to?


May 21, 2012 at 10:13 am

@ Sue

i think the possibility that he was referring to their current film slate, which is set in stone, is higher.

I completely agree. The market is saturated, and the Black Widow was a C-Lister at best, when they dug her up and revitalized her in the Ultimates continuity. SJ does the character good, but honestly, not the casting call I would’ve made for that role…

I”ll agree that I don’t think there is a “franchise” potential for a Marvel female lead, I think that’s just a realistic point. Comic fans might get giddy for some of the ones people have been mentioning in the comments, but they’re likely not going to draw big audiences, which is probably the perspective of Quesada and the studios. With the possible exception of She-Hulk, most of Marvel’s well known female characters are X-Women…

Or maybe he’s just being honest that the purpose of Disney’s acquisition of Marvel is to focus on properties with a more male-oriented side to tie in to their large history of successful female-oriented properties.

And none of this of course takes in to account the female focused shows in development at ABC family.

I have no problem with female starring movies. My beef with movies is I don’t want to see the same thing over and over again. If I didn’t go see a James Bond spy movie, I might not go see it with a female lead. Not because it’s sexiest but because I’m tired of the spy movies.

I’ve seen the Underworld movies and the Resident Evil movies. No problems there, the Alien movies were great with Ellen Ripley. Just give me something fresh, something that will hook me in, that’s what I really ask for.

And even if you believed that none of your characters could tent-pole a movie (Really? Not She-Hulk? Not Rogue or Storm? Not Ms. Marvel?), how is the immediate reaction not to say, “Well, shit, let’s make one. We can actually do that.”

There is a built-in market for a Black Widow movie: it’s everyone who went to see the Avengers movie. Which, with the money it’s raked in, is pretty much everyone at this point. A character does not have to be headlining in comic sales to make a good character to base a movie around. Especially when she’s already been in a series of very successful movies, has an interesting alluded-to backstory and an actress standing by.

This also speaks to the need for more headlining ladies at Marvel in general. I’m glad to see Captain Marvel getting a book, that’s awesome, but the book they have coming out for Black Widow with the movie’s release is SERIOUSLY disappointing and, beyond that, there’s not a lot on the horizon. It’s really disappointing, tbh.

Bridesmaids was the best action film ever.


Actually, Melissa McCarthy was pretty damn awesome in the flick.

awesome post!!! i have nothing to add but agreement.

If only we’d listen to Kelly Thompson, then we’d finally achieve the feminist dream of having two girl Batmans, a girl Thor, a girl Captain Marvel and a girl Ulysses Bloodstone on the big screen!

I think Joey Q is right about the lack of characters (I’m sure there’s an actress that can carry a flick, but Johansson isn’t her). The most compelling female characters in the Marvel universe are X-Women. But their movie rights belong to Fox, not Marvel. She-Hulk is probably the best outside of that group, but despite the great stuff they’ve done with her over the years, she’s still a girl-ified spin-off of a male character. That’s lame. And I’m not sure the things that make her great as a comic book character would translate well into a movie. Ms./Captain Marvel has the same “male hero wth boobs” problem. Plus we just had a Green Lantern film with a similar “aliens made me a superhero” theme.

But if another solo, female superhero film is really what you need, go yell at DC. Wonder Woman is original, unique, recognizable, and compelling.

Marvel tries to run a book with a female lead now and again. It invariably fails. Sometimes it fails after being really quite good. The market laughs at it cruelly. Captain Marvel is starting up soon and getting a decent push from what I can see. There are lots of problems. Either you tie it very closely to the center of the shared universe or else the reader base won’t be there. Tie it too close and it doesn’t become as iconic and new reader friendly as it needs to be to break out into the mainstream. Etc. Etc.

What Marvel really needs to do is focus as a bit more of an R&D engine for Disney. What does it cost them, really, relatively, to put out 50 issues of a marginally well selling comic? Something around 80 on the top 100 direct market charts. They need to see the comics as an acceptable loss leader(or even unmaximized profits leader) in order to create and develop properties that they can then spin out of comics into

Granted, is that REALLY the way we want them to create a strong and vibrant female property? Probably not, but the market is what the market is and they’re stuck with it just as much as we are.

I agree with Kelly Thompson!

We need more women, Avengers was kick ass, Black Widow was kick ass, and Quesada needs to think before he speaks!

I’m sure if Marvel put their heads together and did the right thing, with great directors like Joss Whedon, they’d repeat their success!

Scarlett Johansson was perfect! And I for one would love to see a solo movie, or maybe a Black Widow/Hawkeye team-up movie.

could not put it better myself about quesada sexism when after all did joe forget a little film called x-men had lead characters that were female too not to mention the fantastic four invisible woman. thank goodness joe is not running marvel films hope dis marvel execs set joe straight about his views.

I know that people think that Joe Quesada has done wonders for Marvel but all he has really done is just make it more of a Boys Only Club. Marvel Comics used to have the talents of Louise (Jones) Simonson, ), Jo Duffy, June Brigman, Ann Nocenti, Marie Severin, Christie Scheele, and Bobbie Chase making their comics. Not just niche limited series but regular Marvel characters. As a guy who loves comics (especially Marvel) and would love to have my daughter enjoy them if she wants to, Joe Quesada and his regime certainly don’t leave me feeling encouraged.


May 21, 2012 at 11:25 am

@Shawn Kane

If there is one thing you can’t accuse Quesada, Alonso or Cebulski of, it’s that they are not looking or giving a female talent a shot.


May 21, 2012 at 11:27 am

Again sticking to my earlier comment that it’s hard to judge intent or meaning from a paraphrased sentence.

For what it’s worth someone else who spoke to Joe.


When I tell people I read superhero comics, I usually hear back how they haven’t gotten a comic in ages. My response to that is “Well, comics are an antiquated medium.” Comments like Quesadas’ is the evidence I cite.

At a time where film critics are damning fine movies like Avengers with faint praise because they (personally) are bored with super-hero/comic book movies, this is a particularly dumb statement from Quesada. Want to cut through market saturation? Do something different, like actually have a movie with a solo female lead.

Yeesh. Good super-hero movies will do well. Bad ones will fail. Elektra failed because the script was crap, not because it had a female lead. hell, it probably did better opening weekend because there were people saying to themselves, “It’s Jennifer Garner, we know she can kick ass, maybe this won’t be as bad as Daredevil.”

People are stupid.

What kills me about the notion that Black Widow couldn’t support a film, etc. is that we’ve seen a red-haired spy tied to a chair in the first scene of her media before. That was Sydney Bristow in the first episode of Alias, as directed by J.J. Abrams. Abrams went on to Lost, Fringe and Star Trek. Garner was in TWO Marvel films. And Alias ran five years. CLEARLY there’s at least niche audience appeal for a Black Widow flick.

Here’s the thing: who’s to say that a Marvel female-driven action film has to be a $200 million tentpole? Can’t they make a more modestly-budgeted film suited to the a particular character? If Haywire can make a little money, why couldn’t Black Widow make significantly more? I don’t get it.

Matthew Petersen

May 21, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I can’t see why SheHulk couldn’t be AMAZING.
Same for Ms. Marvel. I’d love to see either get the silver screen treatment (as long as they do it RIGHT).
What the heck is wrong with Mr. Quesada????

A Hawkeye/Mockingbird movie? Yes, please! A Spider-Woman movie that plays out more like a spy flick? Sign me up!

Hell, if they really wanted to do something cool, they could do Spider-Girl!!!!!!

There is absolutely enough heroines to get the film treatment.

Joe Quesadilla is a big, fat drooling idiot who should never have been put in charge of wiping his own butt, let alone being Editor-in-chief or lead creative anything.

Monica Rambeau (Capt. Marvel) movie! Great against Thanos!

Mystique movie! Anti-hero: see her develop her nefarious plan with lots of spy-stuff and shape-changing, only to have SHEILD (or a couple X-Men) foil her at the last minute.

The Wasp! More of a high-powered action/comedy with Whirlwind and Blizzard, lots of shopping, cruise ships, trying to make things work with Hank, and oh yeah, Giant-Man’s in it too! GO JAN!!

On the DC side, duh, Birds of Prey of course!

Mike Loughlin

May 21, 2012 at 12:25 pm

The people responsible for the Marvel movies have made the Marvel (movie) Universe itself a selling point. Right now, they can advertise *any* Marvel Studios movie as tied to Avengers. Even if they don’t see every Marvel character as being franchise-worthy, they can use ties to the overall Universe to make the film seem “important.”

Also: remember Blade? Couldn’t headline a comic for more than 12 issues, but went on to have 3 movies. The same thing could happen with Black Widow, Ms. Marvel, Monica Rambeau, Elsa Bloodstone, any version of Spider-Woman or Spider-Girl, etc. Hell, they could reboot Elektra as long as the script was good.

God, Joe Q. if you don’t want to change your ways, fine, if you even genuinely think that, fine, but how hard is it to realize that it’s simply BAD BUSINESS to insult an actress that’s working in the biggest hit your franchise has had since, well, ever? Beyond the blatant sexism, it’s just stupid and insulting to someone currently making you money.

what do you expect from the man who not only let jeph loeb keep working,and wholeheartedly support him,but also promote him?! ’nuff said…….

Wasn’t Natalie Portman the Movie Star they hired for Thor so they could hire somebody nobody had heard of as Thor.
Same with Halle Berry in the X men movies, and how many articles did January Jones get written about her appearing in First class. And wasn’t Gwyneth Paltrow bigger than Robert Downey Jr when Iron Man was made.
And outside of Marvel people like Helen Mirren, Angelina Jolie, and Anne Hathaway all acresses who can and have opened movies have appeared in comic book movies.
In fact I believe AJ could get squirrel girl made if she signed on the dotted line. Hell she could probably get a movie of Dumb Bunny and the Inferior Five made if she said yes to it.
And he seems to have forgotten that nobody outside of geekdom had heard of Iron Man and Thor before the movies were made.
And of course characters like She Hulk, Dazzler, or Scarlet Witch could easily appear as part of x men, hulk or avengers movies as part of a tryout for the future.

Also posted on She Has No Head…

While I haven’t seen the film yet (i.e I may cave and see it by sneaking in since I lost in my previous reason for boycotting with Avengers braking records and not paying the co-creators family a dime…meanwhile Stan Lee gets paid buckets loads of cash for pretending he is a good guy…Kirby Family and all the cartoonist Disney/Marvel have stomped on after squeezing there life essence out and selling it for another billion), lets assume it is as amazing as it should be and everyone is saying it is (comics are cool too people). Let’s also assume Joe is still friends with Jimmy and Jimmy is still into Amanda. How does Joe avoid this social awkwardness. Amanda and Jimmy both from the small amount of time I have known them seemed to be pro strong women. I just assumed Joe, being there friend was not crazy. Even Kirby, who never struck me as a big feminist was in the business of inclusion for women in comics as characters. And not damsels…hello Big Barda! So why would Joe decades later be so ass backwards? Reason…cause guys in comics have been saying this shit forever…and Disney in particular is paying him to kill comics. Squeeze every ounce out of these suckers, invest in film and move on to the next victim.

Funny thing is this is news to Scarlett. She just said seeing Jennifer Lawrence in Hunger Games has changed the perception of strong female roles in Sci-Fi…as if Sigourney hadn’t proven it in Aliens decades ago. Scarlett was defending along with Joss finally rebooting WW. It seemed all siting at that interview (the Avengers and the Director of a most profitable) were unaware Scarlett was a failure as well in Joe’s eyes.

I am no Black Widow fan and I am usually in favor of a less sexualized female superhero (my favorite comic book superhero is Shadow Cat), but just based on Iron Man, Scarlett was not only a compelling superhero, with the least offensive and yet awesome costume…she also was quintessential in hotness taking out all that security (hay a heterosexual feminist…is still a guy). I am sure this continued in the Avengers. So the idea that a female superhero can’t be respectable, effective, intelligent, sexy and a star all at once is simply ludicrous. It happens, and continues to happen. So the question only remains; Why not take advantage of it Marvel? Taking advantage of talented people is what you do best. No wonder Kelly needed to dust off her Rant Ray!

Ronald Jay Kearschner

May 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm

The problem is “tentpole” movies. 200 mil to make. 200 mil to market. Needs to make a billion to be successful. The only female comic book character with the history and public awareness to justify this is Wonder Woman. Warner Bros has a Joss Whedon script I believe and even if they can’t get Joss, their are plenty of writers and directors in the Whedon tree (BUFFY, ANGEL, FIREFLY, DOLLHOUSE). Make it happen DC.

“There is a built in market for a Black Widow movie: it’s everyone who went to see the Avengers movie. Which, with the money it’s raked in, is pretty much everyone at this point. A character does not have to be headlining in comic sales to make a good character to base a movie around. Especially when she’s already been in a series of very successful movies, has an interesting alluded-to backstory and an actress standing by.”

No, no, no, no and no.

I guarantee you that not everyone who saw the Avengers is chomping at the bit to see a Black Widow movie, in fact I don’t know ANYONE who walked out of a theater after seeing the Avengers saying, “Y’know what they need to make, a Black Widow movie.

No one thinks that.

Because the character really isn’t all that interesting.

Many people see her as nothing but a rip off of the Trinity character from The Matrix movies.

And the character hasn’t been in a ‘series of very successful movies.’

She’s been in two. That does not constitute a series.

As a comic book reader and more importantly a fan of spy movies, I would like to see a Black Widow movie.

More than a Black Panther movie or a Doctor Strange movie or a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. BY. FAR. I can’t be the only one…

Oh, and, more than a SHIELD movie. As crazy as that may sound to some.

Quesada’s comment was foolish. Forget the “tentpole” treatment. Write a good, character-driven script with an exciting plot and a comic-book movie featuring a female lead is absolutely feasible. Special effects cannot save a bad plot, and neither can T&A–they only enhance a good plot around a good character.

A Black Widow movie could be shot on a very small budget (assuming they can sign Ms. Johansson). Here are some other, highly successful movies on a shoe-string budget: http://www.denofgeek.com/movies/18683/top-50-modern-day-low-budget-movies.

It is true that Marvel has not managed to produce a successful, long-running, female-lead comic book–but DC has been successful with Wonder Woman on multiple occasions. Instead of blaming it on the characters and the actresses, perhaps Quesada should look at how *Marvel* treats female characters.

Are you sure he said that, because it seems like an unconfirmed off hand comment.

Especially since JQ has mentioned that Marvel is working on a script for a Ms.Marvel movie.

I’m torn. On the one hand, I would really love a Black Widow movie starring Scarlett Johansson, and on the level where it doesn’t matter a darn bit to me how much money a movie makes I want that to be a thing that exists, and it would be spectacular if it was a big hit and studios would finally realize that the key to selling a woman-led action movie is making a good movie and not just throwing Halle Berry in fetish gear up on the screen and assuming that’s enough.

But on the other hand, if they did make it, and it didn’t make just as much money as Iron Man and Captain American and Thor, you just know they’d declare it conclusive, iron-clad proof that people don’t want to see female action stars. I mean, even if it made money, but just didn’t make AS MUCH as the male-led movies, they’d jump to the worst possible conclusion because that’s what Hollywood always does. The fact that they have the box office take of all the other Avengers franchise movies to compare it to would be its biggest obstacle. The prevailing logic would become “If they couldn’t get people to see Black Widow, we sure as hell won’t be able to sell them on Black Canary/Ms. Marvel/Zatanna/etc.” And as much as I’d like to think that OF COURSE it would do just as well, the sad fact is that there are more 10-year-old boys who dragged their parents to all the other Avengers movies but won’t want to see a “movie about a girl” than there are people who would want to see it but DIDN’T go to see the previous Avengers movies, and that means that it probably would see a dip in ticket sales.

On the third hand, Hollywood’s never going to have faith in the idea of a superheroine movie until someone makes one that’s a hit, and Black Widow at this moment in time is probably the best chance we’ve ever had of that happening (MAYBE there’d be enough interest in a Wonder Woman movie to do the job, but honestly I’d consider that more of a longshot right now, and DC’s nowhere close to putting one of those out any time soon). And the fact that Avengers made so much more than any of the individual heroes’ movies means that there is a bigger market out there; the onus on Black Widow woudn’t necessarily be to attract people who didn’t see Iron Man, it would be to not LOSE people who didn’t see Iron Man but did see Avengers.

So overall I think there’s more reasons to hope they do make it than to think they should hold off, but I think we should at least acknowledge that there’s no guarantee it won’t just end up being used as justification to not even consider greenlighting more superheroine movies.

That said, yeah, if they make it, I’ll be there opening night and buy the DVD when it comes out.


We must know very different parts of the movie-going public, then, because I know LOTS of people who came out of the theaters wanting to know more about the Black Widow. But, okay, I can accept that Black Widow doesn’t appeal to you as a character. Maybe you don’t like spies or kickass ladies or Russian defecters or whatever. I’d be curious to what you think of Hawkeye considering he’s also in the super spy type and had, in my opinion, way less to do in the movie. But you not thinking she’s interesting does not equal her not being a viable candidate for a film.

And- Trinity from the Matrix? Really? Because…Trinity is a femme fatale spy type? Sorry, there’s definitely a long line of character tropes she draws from, that I do not deny, but Trinity from the Matrix is ABSOLUTELY not one of them.

I guarantee you that not everyone who saw the Avengers is chomping at the bit to see a Black Widow movie, in fact I don’t know ANYONE who walked out of a theater after seeing the Avengers saying, “Y’know what they need to make, a Black Widow movie.

You can’t guarantee anything. It’s pop culture and audience whims can blow in any direction. But it’s that same lack of guarantees that make Quesada’s assessment so idiotic. He’s saying it like it’s science.

Some other things studios said like they were science:

“Science fiction won’t sell. it’s too weird.” Until STAR WARS.

“Women don’t drive the marketplace.” Until THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY.

“You can’t have sympathetic gay characters carrying a series on television.” Until WILL & GRACE.

“Nobody will watch a TV show about politics.” Until THE WEST WING.

“Nobody will watch a cop show about a bunch of science geeks looking at stuff in a microscope.” ABC, passing up Anthony Zuiker’s pilot for CSI.

And so on. you can’t ever tell what’s going to work with an audience… that’s why Hollywood is so high on the idea of tentpoles and franchises in the first place.

BUT! Consider this. Looking at it from the feminist viewpoint is missing the big picture: a Black Widow movie starring Scarlett Johannsen isn’t “a female-lead action movie.” I mean it is, but you don’t CALL it that. You call it “the latest from Marvel Entertainment. You saw her in Iron Man 2. you saw her in THE AVENGERS. And now in her own full-length…” etc. Black Widow comes PRE-SOLD. All you need to do is make sure that you get Ms. Johannsen on board, that Sam Jackson back as Nick Fury, and that the movie’s good. Make sure the public knows that Widow film is part of the same chain of movies. People talk about the Cap and Thor movies like they are separate series. No, it’s a series NOW. It’s the next step after Avengers. Push THAT angle and you could easily get a Widow movie going. At least, that’s the approach I’d take on it.

Kelly, what you speak of is something I have been really advocating for: a radical (but sensible) restructuring of the comic book industry. Of course I’ve got the argument that the Big Two need a change in management (*cough* Coup De’tat *cough*), but for here, there’s more:
-Your bit about how “you don’t have to re-make the comic industry to get women to come along”? EEEEhhhhnttt, WRONG! You do–just not how you jokingly described it. What could and should be done is that the Big Two, each as a corporation respectively, has to be MADE a democracy.
-You want to see some progress made in the material and product they put out, GET THE FANS, ALL OF THEM, ORGANIZED. Set up some mediation sessions that help establish commonalities among the myriad fanbases.
-The next step, once the previous is done, is simple: PRESS, PRESS, PRESS the companies into giving in to the demands of a united comic fandom. In metaphorical terms–“Mama’s got a squeezebox, Marvel doesn’t sleep at night.”
-Why do this? Because simply put, we the consumers are the reasons companies like Marvel has all the dough they rake in–therefore, THEY WOULD BE NOTHING WITHOUT US. Thus, we as a united fandom (in theory, hopefully in reality as well) should do this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DihMQ3P7fRk
In short, Kelly–if you want to see things like Quesada’s manufactured responses never appear again, work with others, get the fandom organized, and once united, start breathing down Marvel’s necks for the progress you describe in this column.

If anything is flawed with my thinking here, PLEASE, let me know.

Oh Quesada will you ever learn.
I would gladly pay money to see a good Black Widow or even Ms. Marvel(Captain Marvel) movie you fool.

Oz the Malefic

May 21, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Darmund, don’t make blanket statements, because I know personally all I want to see is a Black Widow film, and that’s what I was thinking about while watching her scenes, how good she would be in a true spy film (which there are very few of)

“My only regret is that they elected to let the Widow use pistols, when the “Widows Sting” “bracelets were clearly on her wrists”

She used the bracelets several times against the aliens. Now you have an excuse to go back and see the movie again :)

A Black Widow movie is a no brainer after Avengers, but after that . . . too many Marvel properties are tied up with male characters and have pretty confusing backgrounds. She Hulk, Spiderwoman, Valkyre would all probably need to completely ignore the source material or spend the entire movie establishing character. Wasp is too tied to Ant-man. I can only really see a Ms. Marvel movie making any sense, and then what story do you tell? Captain America is easy to identify and his story is straightforward. Ms. Marvel, She Hulk, Valkyre? Movies play to the lowest common denominator. Most of Marvel’s female characters aren’t easily grasped in a treatment. I think Q is wrong about not being able to carry a franchise, but Black Widow is the right approach. She’s been in two movies already and now everyone knows who she is. Do an Avengers 2, include Ms. Marvel and Spiderwoman if you have the rights and see what clicks.

[…] column entitled Dear Marvel: Please Stop Ruining Everything looks at the inherent sexism in Quesada’s statement, and the preconception, assumption, […]


I can immediately disprove your claim that “NO ONE WANTED A BLACK WIDOW MOVIE” with


I wanted one.

A lot of other people in this thread one wanted one.

You = Everyone else. But I can guess various reasons why you don’t seem to comprehend that. None of them are kind.

How about bringing more of the Marvel franchises together, using some of the stories revolving around female cast members?

Say, a Thor/X-Men film that incorporates elements of the New Mutants & X-men annuals that drew those forces to Asgard, in Loki’s attempt to empower Storm as the new goddess of thunder (under his control, of course)?

After thinking it over while at work, even with his credentials you could do BoomBoom. All you need is a “Hot Asian Chick”. She doesn’t even have to be good a fighting. All you’ve got to do is partner her up with Michael Bay. The rest takes care of itself.

Captain Librarian

May 22, 2012 at 8:36 am

To play the devil’s advocate, I’ve heard more than a few people say that they felt Black Widow was shoehorned in as a token female. Usually with the comment, “You’ve got Thor and the Hulk and then there’s a girl in black tights with handguns flipping around. I mean, even the arrow guy has exploding things and she’s got a 9 mm.” Not my words.

Besides, people see a Black Widow movie and see Electra and Catwoman I suspect. One thing about most of the movies mentioned is that they may have had a female lead but they weren’t character specific franchises.

The answer to your problems? Not a Black Widow movie but SHIELD movie w/ Black Widow in the lead role, Hawkeye as the co-star. Give her a chance to explore her past in more depth, and with a more gritty, noirish story that suits her character than she’ll get in the Avengers franchise.

Now wait a minute, you say, isn’t that basically what you were asking for from the beginning? Sure it was, but I’m talking about the presentation. One package screams to the popcorn eating audience watching the trailer before the next Batman movie “Hey, movie about action girl in tights, didn’t they learn after Halle Berry,” the other says, “Hey! A tie in with characters I loved from the Avengers.” My fear of course is that the reaction is: “A movie with the Characters from the Avengers who were just there to fill out the team,” so…lots of shots of Samuel L. Jackson in that trailer, plus tease shots of the 5 minute cameo of Tony Stark. They’ll be happy when the movie is good, trust me!

[…] here’s a somewhat related supplemental reading, if you feel like.  Definitely worth checking out. Share […]

They are redoing Daredevil, hopefully they get Elektra right this time around.

I saw a lot of in-print statements to the effect of “women don’t like Scarlett Johansson ” WT?? I haven’t found a female yet, who’s seen Avengers who didn’t LOVE her.

Make a GOOD movie, even a semi-good movie, that’s true to the character, and I’ll be there. If you make her into something she’s not you have a problem. It’s not a gender issue, it’s a quality issue.

P.S. I want my freaking Black Widow action figure. Where the hell are they????

A few responses to all of this.

(1) Would a Black Widow movie be a “hit?” Well, that depends on what you call a hit. It would probably do at least as well as a Blade or a Ghost Rider, esp. if the lead does a good job of pushing it as was the case in those movies. Would it make as much money as a Batman, Spiderman or even a Wolverine? Would it, in other words, become a franchise? Probably not. I just don’t see the possibility there– a character that few know, spy plots get old quick, limited appeal to the mass audience overall.

(2) That being said, a Black Widow movie should be made. As should a She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel and lots of others. A “mega hit” isn’t necessary to justify the movie. Way back when Marvel started getting into movies, its pitch was that its characters were its selling point. That’s true. It’s also true that not all of its characters are something that sells well. Blade and Ghost Rider proved that you can take a character that few know and make a decent movie, one capable of making a small profit for the studio, esp. if you have a lead who likes the character and is willing to pitch the movie to the potential audience. Black Widow appears to have that kind of potential.

(3) To be fair, the only female superhero character that has the potential to be a “mega hit franchise” would appear to be Wonder Woman–recognizable to a large audience, a fairly simple background, lots of story potentials. Unfortunately, even that would likely be based upon portraying the character as the “Amazon warrior who wears little clothing” as has seemingly become the case in the comic books itself. Given that, I’m not sure if that’s the female superhero movie that we want.

(4) Way back in the ancient days, studios understood that you could have a “mega hit” and funnel that money iinto some things that, well, probably wouldn’t be such a major success. Nowadays, because movies have to compete for attention, compete for theater space, and make a sizeable anmount of money in a short period, this formula–using a mega hit to pay for less profitable, but good, movies–faces an uphill battle. That said, Avengers was a mega hit and it does warrant spending some of that cash (and audience appeal) on some things that probably won’t be the “next big hit.” Right now, Ant Man seems to be posed to be this, but a Black Widow (or even a SHIELD, or Hawkeye) could also break through here. Unfortunately, what we’ll probably get is yet another Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk or Thor–characters that people know and the studio knows will sell. That is simply the business side of the industry that we have to face as a reality that won’t change so long as we keep going to see that Iron Man, Thor, etc.

(5) On the larger issue of why comic books aren’t “female friendly,” I think there are a lot of culprits. First, the inustry itslef does a very poor job of failing to produce good female characters (let alone lead female characters), to reject the usual T&A appeal, and to promote female-led books. Second the creators–the same guy who gave us Alias also killed off the Wasp and made the Scarlet Witch a crazy psycho. Third, the genre of superheroes has histrocially had a hard time of appealling to women/girls in general; it just has almost always been a male-oriented fantasy more than anything else. Finally, there are the fans. Most are content, to buy the multitude of X titles, the Luke Cage-as-Avengers, the latest Wolverine-as-whatever, or even a Wonder Woman-as-sexy-warrior and so on rather than maybe take a chance on a Zantanna, Ms. Marvel, or even a Spidergirl. Given this, maybe the industry is simply doing what it should be doing as a business-selling what sells. And given this, maybe what we as fans should be doing–and at least I do this although lots of my fellow fans don’t–is to spend that extra few bucks and give something new and good a chance.

Anyways, just some thoughts. Hope you enjoyed.

“Galactically stupid shit” – love that expression.

And I would watch a movie of Scarlett Johansson painting a room. No dialogue, just two hours of her wiping her brow and painting a room. If Marvel doesn’t see the opportunity in this beautiful young woman and the intriguing and complex character she played . . . well, then, it’s just a shame.

I don’t believe Kelly is suggesting that Signorney Weaver and Uma Thurman should or could be cast as the lead in a superheroine movie today. I think her point in listing those women/movies is that women have anchored some pretty kick-ass action movies in the past, and other actresses could certainly do so today.

“You can’t guarantee anything.”

I completely disagree with his overall point, but he can actually guarantee what he guaranteed, which is that not everyone who came out of the movie was interested in further adventures of Black Widow. He’s pretty clearly demonstrated that he isn’t interested, thus the sum total of people who are interested is at least one less than “everybody”.

I’m all for movies about female Superheroes, but honestly I don’t want a Black Widow movie. This may earn me scorn, but I thought Black Widow came across as a little lame in The Avengers. Both she and Hawkeye struck me as “hangers-on” to the actual superheroes on the team, and at least Hawkeye’s bow was more visually interesting than Widow’s teeny, tiny guns. Of course, she did get that cool moment where she hijacked a hovercraft.

I grant you, my only comic book experience with Black Widow comes from the issue where she randomly picks a fight with Spider-Man (the one where she gets her modern costume) and one Daredevil story where her only major contribution is to be Bullseye’s hostage. It’s just that nothing I’ve seen has compelled me to seek out more Black Widow stories.

Hey, everybody likes James Bond and Charlie’s Angles, and THEY had teeny, tiny guns.

Michael Jeter

May 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm

RE: Ninjazilla’s comment regarding a Daredevil reboot.

With a Daredevil reboot, they could also revisit Widow.

Isn’t it funny coming from the head of a company that is jamming gay marriage down the readers’ throats in the X-Men books!
There are plenty of women out there to head up a single female character. Why not go a step further and collect a two or three woman team to ensure that two to three actresses could ring the registers?

It’s not shocking. It’s just surprising.

Good rant.

Count me in for seeing a Black Widow/Espionage movie. An origin movie type, done as a flashback. Bonus if we get a cameo of young Natasha being taken into KGB secret base and we see a tube with a frozen one armed Bucky Barnes.

Likewise on She Hulk. Spin her off of the next Hulk movie.

Ms Marvel or Monica Rambeau are both natural film leads. (Kandyse McClure for Monica!) Same thing for a Misty Knight movie.

hear hear, well spoken Kelly. i concur 100%.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Call the movie “SHIELD” starring Black Widow and Hawkeye (and to a lesser extent Nick Fury). Someone from Natasha’s past comes back and she and Clint have to save the day, Nicky Fury has some awesome moments, and we learn their origins as the film goes on. Boom. EASY. And you don’t have to call it a “Black Widow Movie” so that boys age 13-30 will still go see it and buy the promotional tie-in Coke slushies.

IMHO, the best way to get a “female lead super hero movie” would be to so a SHIELD movie giving Johansson 3rd billing behind Samuel L Jackson and Jeremy Renner, but give her 40-45% of the screen time. Or, to do an Ant Man movie, and have Ant Man be the reluctant side kick to the Wasp as lead.

Beyond that, there really aren’t any A-list super heroes who aren’t so strongly tied to male characters that the movie would effectively be the male character’s movie rather than the female’s. Wonder Woman, … um, … wow. OK, so Hawkgirl might have once qualified based on her JLU exposure, but is no where near as recognizable today. Black Canary is getting some decent exposure over on the Young Justice show on Cartoon Network. Ms Marvel is over in Disney XD’s Avengers animated series, and looks to be her own character and not a Captain Mar-Vel sidekick. But, honestly, these are B-list heroes at best, only really appealing to people who already know of them.

I think the real, core problem is that the market is prepared for a female lead super hero action movie with an A-list stand alone character. But, unfortunately, A-list stand alone characters need decades of build up in order to penetrate the pop culture and become A-list, and we don’t have that kind of time.

KT said:

“How can anyone look around at some of the recent successes we’ve been seeing in film – Avengers, Hunger Games, Bridesmaids, etc. and deny that women and girls have media power? They are 50% of the goddamn population.”


But– even if it’s true that 40% of AVENGERS watchers are female, is that necessarily true of the other Hollywood femme-action films in KT’s visual montage?

Was 40% of KILL BILL’s viewership female?


The RESIDENT EVIL franchise?

Given a very long period in which American female viewers tended to avoid the Big Loud Action Movies, whether they starred heroes or heroines– I’d say it’s going to take a long time to convince Hollywood to invest in the theory of a massive sea-change (my term) in gender preferences.

[…] Last night, Lilith and I (Chris) were up late talking about this article. […]

Calm down. Yeesh. You think people are going to listen to you because you rant at them? No one ever listens to a rant. No one’s mind is ever changed by a rant. All this post will get you is the undeserved label of “feminazi”.

That being said, I agree with you. Like, 100 percent. But I already did. Preaching to the choir will do nothing to convince the fence-sitters.

A Ms. Marvel movie would be the best thing ever.

Most action movies with female leads are terrible. Kate Beckinsale and Mila Jovovich have been utterly unconvincing throughout multiple sequels. The worst example though was Olga Kurylenko in Centurion, where she was supposed to be this bad ass, but held here weapons like they were going to bite them. Another recent example, the horrible mess half-way through Ghost Protocol.

There are exceptions; Movies of James Cameron, specifically Aliens and Terminator 2, Angelina Jolie at least manages to look convincing, the quality of her movies notwithstanding, but the only time a woman has looked convincing doing martial arts in a Hollywood movie have been the ones involving Michelle Yeoh and the recent Haywire, starring Gina Carano(who would be perfect for Wonder Woman).

I don’t know what the reason for it is. It could be film-making ineptitude, actors inability to commit to these characters, lack of training or a combination of all.

“What kills me about the notion that Black Widow couldn’t support a film, etc. is that we’ve seen a red-haired spy tied to a chair in the first scene of her media before. That was Sydney Bristow in the first episode of Alias, as directed by J.J. Abrams. Abrams went on to Lost, Fringe and Star Trek. Garner was in TWO Marvel films. And Alias ran five years. CLEARLY there’s at least niche audience appeal for a Black Widow flick.”

There’s certainly a niche market for films with women tied to chairs, but I doubt the Kelly Thompsons of this world would be happy if Marvel went for it,

Just to put it in perspective, Joe Quesada is a total fucking idiot.

Seriously, this guy is the one who hated married Peter Parker and decreed the abomination that is One More Day.

“The guy” suggests that 80% of Marvel editors and writers since 1987 didn’t hate married Peter Parker, which is not the case.

Wow, I never considered it, but a Whedon/Johansson “Black Widow” movie would be great. Could be a good way to reintroduce Daredevil, too, as her sidekick.

Name the last 5 Female Super Hero movies that have succeeded?

Name the last 5 Male Super Hero movies that have succeeded?


We seem primed for a change. The second-highest grossing movie of the year is an action film starring a woman. Heck, the Hunger Games out-performed the last two solo male superhero films combined (Cap and Thor, right? If it was Cap and Green Lantern, it outsold them ever further).


Are you suggesting that female superhero movies succeed without ever being made?

@GDKeen I love that idea…it seems to fit in with what Marvel has smartly done using comics technique of slowly introducing characters…Daredevil would be a nice choise…eventually maybe working around to reintroducing Spidy and X-Men under Marvel development.

@Scotty …poorly written and exsicuted films staring women playing female superheroes does not make for an assumption that a well written, well exsicuted female lead film about a female superhero will fail. Plus as cast now Black Widow is a smart buisness move for Disney and one thing comics based films need…it won’t save comics, but it will erode this rediculous false perseption (I.e. women have always played parts in comics as characters, creators and readers…it’s just that men in positions of power seem to think only exsploitations makes good buisness sence).

I love this column. But I hope that the rant doesn’t preclude the “Black Widow: Required Reading” column, because I really want to see that too.

I have to agree 100% with your anger. This is the thinking of a guy paid to make movies?

For one thing, a good movie doesn’t NEED to be anything else. If they got a good script, people are going to go watch it, no one, least of all comics readers/geeks, are going to go “Well, that is a great movie, cool plot, amazing Special Effects, some humour . . . if only its main character was a guy!”.
It is just stupid thinking. Probably, blokes would line up around the block to see a movie THAT HAD NO MEN AT ALL IN IT, if it had a good script and S. Johansson.

For another thing, actually, right down to brass tacks, excuse me if I actually get a trifle sexist while combating sexism . . ., men are going to go watch ANYTHING that has S. Johansson in it.
For the man to say he thought he didn’t have a female actor who could carry a movie . . . it is stupid ten ways. We would go watch it if she only acted as well as Nick Cage, and seeing as she is actually an extremely talented actress, we get to go watch it and say to our female friends “Wow, she is just so talented!”.

And, no good female comic characters?.

The bloke is an embarassment.

[…] in the Marvel Universe that he can make a big tent-pole movie out of.  You can read about it here: http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2012/05/21/she-has-no-head-dear-marvel-stop-ruining-everyth… I think he is right, but not for the obvious reasons.  I think this is an area where Marvel Comics […]

The Phoenix was my childhood hero, and hollywood totally ruined her story. Now it is unlikely the Phoenix saga will ever get the attention it deserved. She should have had her own trilogy, let alone her own movie, but they totally ruined it as a 15-minute subplot. Pardon my language, but, fuck you Marvel-Disney.

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