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Committed: 9 Arguments for a Female Superhero Movie

091113_wonderwomanEarlier this week I was asked to take part in a group discussion on Huffington Post Live about whether there is a market for a female superhero movie. It was a short conversation, but in the pre-interview I was asked to refute practically every possible reason why someone might feel that a female superhero movie can’t be made. I thought you might be interested, so here are the arguments for making a female superhero movie.

Arguing Against the Classic Arguments Against a Female Superhero Movie
(sorry about the confusing title, but it seemed the most accurate description).

1. Female superhero costumes are too revealing.
So are men’s costumes. Skin tight is a universal problem in comic books. Nudity is only equated with vulnerability when the subject is a normal human. No one looks at a lion and asks why it has no pants, and in fact putting clothing on an animal is a way to make it appear less threatening. Similarly there is a certain kind of woman who could never be perceived as a merely ornamentation, no matter how she dresses. While implausible costumes have long been an excuse for not making a film about a female superhero, this never held back any of their male counterparts. In the end, it didn’t matter that Spider-Man and Superman wore bright colors, that Thor dressed like a pro-wrestler, or that Batman was dressed like a giant rodent, they still kicked ass and they still got people to watch.

2. There aren’t any female actors strong enough to play a female superhero.
Superheroes actors aren’t born, they’re made. Actors don’t start out with the superhero physique, they work up to it. Before his role in American Psycho in 2000, Christian Bale was a rather unassuming physical specimen, well suited to the average-guy roles he was playing but certainly not physically imposing. Before Thor, Chris Hemsworth was the boy next door on the Australian daytime soap opera Neighbors. Before he was Superman, Henry Cavill has frequently referred to his overweight childhood. They worked out, they developed their skills, and they grew into their roles. If men can do it, so can women.

091113_captainmarvel3. There aren’t any female actors strong enough to play female superheroes. (part 2)
Yes there are. Gina Carano made an incredible action hero in Haywire. Zoe Bell managed to make Uma Thurman look like a talented ninja in Kill Bill, and did a damn good job of her own action scenes in Death Proof. Rosario Dawson and Devon Aoki in Sin City weren’t exactly shrinking violets. Gina Torres was easily the strongest looking person in the team in Firefly. While she might have been a frail, writhing, wierdo, Milo Jovovich did an excellent turn in the Fifth Element as a super powered alien, and went on to become a bit of an ass-kicker in the series of Resident Evil films. Katee Sackhoff did a stellar job of out-machoing every single man in Battlestar Galactica. Jennifer Lawrence was very plausible as the powerful Katniss in the Hunger Games…The list goes on, and those are just the woman who’ve already played superheroic roles. Plenty of young female actors could (and would) develop their bodies to play superheroes.

4. Female superheroes aren’t as recognizable as male ones.
Obviously that’s nonsense, there are plenty of well-known iconic female superheroes who’ve already starred in superhero team movies (the Black Widow, Phoenix, Storm, etc), and everyone and their mum has heard of Wonder Woman, even if they’ve never picked up a comic book. Besides that, there are characters like Batwoman and Captain Marvel who are very easy concepts to communicate to a new audience (easier concepts than Green Lantern, for example).

091113_batwoman5. Audiences might not go see a film based around a female lead.
Audiences might not go see any film, that risk is always there. If the film is good, it will have an audience. To assume that giving a woman the lead makes a lot of other assumptions about content which aren’t necessarily true. Perhaps if the film is targeted specifically at some kind of old-world, sexist view of what women are supposed to find interesting (i.e. emotional melodrama and gossip) then yes, the film will only have a very limited audience. But then it also won’t be a superhero film, female or otherwise. Female superheroes must to be depicted as superheroes in action, just like their male counterparts. It is their work as a superhero which defines them, and this action needs to be the main focus in these kind of films.

6. In the past, female superhero movies like Catwoman or Elektra haven’t been well-received.
In every genre of film, there have been horrible, terrible, awful failures. Films so bad that it really doesn’t matter what the type of film or what the focus, they’re just not going to be liked. Unfortunately a couple of these have been about female superheroes, but there have been bad films made of every shape and form, and this hasn’t stopped people from making good ones. It can be done.

7. Women don’t read comic books and so they won’t go see a superhero film.
Plenty of men don’t read comic books but they still go see the films. Before they go see a film, most people don’t read the books which films are based on, whether they’re comic books or not. A lot of people don’t even realize that films are based on books or comic books, it really doesn’t have any bearing on it. Putting that aside, the audiences for the most recent Marvel superhero films have been almost half women. Women enjoy good superhero movies.

091113_storm8. Only Joss Whedon can write a female superhero film and because he isn’t doing it, it can’t happen.
He isn’t, but for the sake of argument, let’s examine this. If no one but Whedon is capable of writing a compelling, engaging, universally appealing female superhero, then just do what they did in Salt and write a strong male character, then change the pronouns. It may not be ideal but it is one way to insure that the role isn’t stymied by the any subconscious sexist assumptions on the part of the author.

9. Female superhero comics are too sexist to be adapted into a movie.
Whether this is true or not is debatable, but even if it were, it wouldn’t matter. The characters and their stories need to be distinct, just as they are in male superhero films where the characters are often completely separated from the comic books currently (or previously) produced. Many of the male superhero movies use story lines specifically created for the films and so must the female superhero movies. What works on the page might not work for film and that is completely understandable. It is less important that the films be faithful to a specific storyline, than that they’re faithful to the characters themselves, exposing these female power icons to a broader movie-going audience.

53 Comments

This article could’ve been called “Reasons a Black Widow Movie Should Already Be in Production”.

- non-revealing costume (comparatively)
- already played by a capable actress
- said actress is also a box office draw
- has prominently appeared in a movie virtually everyone has seen
- Joss Whedon has already developed the character, so any other writer could just use that as a template

And this one doesn’t really match any of your points but:

- it’d essentially be a female Bond film

“5. Audiences might not go see a film based around a female lead.”

I think this is your biggest hurdle–you’re talking about Hollywood, where money talks. You need the proper combination of 1) a studio willing to produce it, 2) quality acting and writing going to the project, and 3) people actually going to see those two things. I mean, I guess you could get the movie produced regardless of #3, but that might be your ONLY female superhero film if the movie tanks. Hollywood audiences are suffering from boredom, burnout, and a lot of bad projects. I don’t know if superhero movies are reaching their saturation point, but we’ve got to get there at some point.

Plus, I am skeptical of audience support given how it’s reflected in the comic book fanbase. (Yes, I realize that comic book fans are not the target audience of superhero films, but if you can’t get the comic fans in, why would you expect regular audiences to follow?) Marvel has released a load of female-centric books in the last year–Red She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Fearless Defenders, Journey Into Mystery with Sif, and they’re either cancelled or barely holding up.

@Adam
You’re forgetting a crucial thing that needs to be overcome–the fear and cowardice secretly expressed by those same studio execs. It seems like the best way to convine them to give this kind of film a shot is to con them into doing it.

@Acer–

Well, I think that’d fall under #1: a studio willing to produce it. I’m no Hollywood insider–I honestly don’t know what goes through an exec’s head when s/he makes the call to greenlight or not greenlight a film. I have to imagine that it mostly concerns money: how much is this going to bring in, or how much will we lose if it doesn’t? I can’t inherently fault them for that. I’d wager that every movie that tanked this summer–BPRD, After Earth, the Lone Ranger–was done under the calculus of “Trust me, this will bring in big money.” Why would a hypothetical female superhero film surpass the expectations of anything that crashed this summer?

In fact, that probably brings us back to point #6: Prior female superhero films have tanked. Sonia’s trying to argue that a few bad apples shouldn’t spoil the bunch (which is correct), but I imagine the executive will balk at the fact that they’ve ALL tanked or been low-key.

i would pay good money to see either Black Widow or Peggy Carter in their own movies. I’d be willing to give anyone else Marvel can use – She-Hulk, Valkyrie, Sif, Captain/Ms Marvel, Mockingbird, but those two are the two most logical to do movies for first, because they’ve already been developed to some extent on screen, they’ve both got talented actresses in the roles and they’re tied to extant films and therefore are likely to lure in some of the non-fanboy fans. Chad’s right though, BW shuold have her own movie already, or should be a phase 3 movie. She’s in IM2, she’s in Avengers and she’s in next year’s Winter Soldier. A solo movie should be a no brainer.

sorry, that should’ve said anyone else [i]a chance[/i]

You had me until “Salt.”… You had me until “Salt.”

I always thought the barfight in SERENITY was Whedon’s (self-chosen) test run for WONDER WOMAN, as he was attached as writer/director at that time; whether he was going to cast Summer Glau or not, it was terrific, CREDIBLE action. Sonia also points to HAYWIRE: a great call, also a very CREDIBLE action film. What Whedon and Soderberg get that so few directors get is the concept of choreography in their fight sequences.

Female costumes too revealing- two things firstly look at Lynda Carter, extremely close to the comic costume and yet still fully clothed, zatanna in smallville was also close to the original and not revealing, if they go the other way then this simply does not apply.
No female actors my area, are they seriously saying Angelina Jolie, uma Thurman, to name but two couldn’t lead an action movie and there is no need to have a star in the lead role many films hire stars to play the villain in order to get the right actor for the lead or pack the side characters with stars like Michael caine or Kevin spacey.
Not recognisable-was iron man or Thor famous before their movies came out, and wonder woman , supergirl or batgirl are recognisable to everybody. Plus they could easily test the waters by putting them in a tv show or cartoon, for example Huntress is now more recognisable and by next year Black Canary will have a high profile because of Arrow.
Chairwoman and Elektra flopped because they were bad not because they were comic book movies, eventually someone will have a hit by doing it properly.
Female lead- yes they will this is why Angelina is a movie star,
Maybe it’s different in America but in Scotland half the geeks are female, women know as much about comics as men.
Oh yeah I forgot how badly written and acted Catwoman was in Dark knight.
And finally too sexist is judging a movie that hasn’t even been written yet by invented standards.

While this is a great article and I agree with 99% of it, there’s a few things I’d like to add on 5 and 6.

5) There’s a prevailing logic in Hollywood that boys won’t go and see a film with a girl as a lead (but girls have no problem both male leads). i.e. a boy doesn’t won’t to see BRAVE but but a girl as no qualms about UP. In practice I don’t know if this is true or not, but it doesn’t really matter if it is or not – to quote William Golding “Nobody Knows Anything” and absolutely no one has any idea what will actually be a hit, so producers stick to these preconceived ideas as they don’t have much else to go on. There’s actually a strong counter argument to this – this summer about the only big summer movie with female leads was The Heat, and that made a shedload of money – the box office pundits reckoned it was because it was the only thing with women at the front, so women went to see that over, say, Pacific Rim. It would therefore seem a no-brainer for Hollywood to make a female superhero flick (existing character or new creation, it doesn’t matter) and aim it predominantly female audience, as you’d think it would be a licence to print money.

6) ELEKTRA and CATWOMAN are bad, unsuccessful films not becuase they have a female lead, but because they were awful films that no one wanted. Unfortunately this has set a precedent, Again, based on the idea that no one has a clue what films will make money, Hollywood only has the past to go on. Which means that female super movies don’t get made. And when they do get made they are half arsed as everyone thinks they’ll bomb. Which only goes on to fuel they idea that they don’t make money. It’s a vicious cycle.

However, I’m pretty damn confident that within the next five years someone talent will take a gamble and make a FANTASTIC female superhero movie and it will be a box office smash and everyone will love it.

And they we’ll get a load of crap lazy cash-in super heroine movies…

If they get Michelle MacLaren to direct it, all other concerns fall away.

Re: issue 5, I have a really compelling argument: Kill Bill.

Seems like most of the contributers to CB have similar takes on this subject. I wouldn’t mind seeing them hash out which comic book heroine should get a crack at a major movie and why.

Nice article! You’re damn right about all of it.

Regarding #8 – Your point is valid, but there’s a much, much, much better example for this point than “Salt.”

Alien.

The part of Ripley, (played by the phenomenal Sigourney Weaver) was written as a man. When Weaver was eventually cast, they changed nothing but the pronouns, as you said. There was talk about doing some rewriting on the character to “feminize” her, but they eventually decided against that. (Best. Decision. Ever!) Everything about that character was originally written with a man in mind.

Not only did Alien turn out to be a wildly successful movie, spawning sequels like the titular baddie spawned offspring, but the character of Ripley is widely considered to be an iconic female action role. (Which Weaver was more than strong enough to take on, regarding your points #2 and #3.)

It can totally be done.

Prior to the Marvel wave of superhero films that followed BLADE, I would have said the best adaptation prospects were Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, X-Men and Spidey. Four of those five have been adapted since and (by any objective metric) they have been four of the five most successful superhero film franchises. The fifth is Iron Man and The Avengers film that was spun out of it.

It seems like such a no-brainer to adapt Wonder Woman that it amazes me that it hasn’t happened yet.

Beyond Wonder Woman is more debatable. No female Marvel has ever held down a successful solo title. While the movie market is very different than the direct market for comics, there just is not that much material to be adapted into a Black Widow (or whomever) movie. Hollywood would need to start nearly from scratch and the track record there is … marginal.

In terms of DC, they have other successful female characters, but most the most obvious candidate by far is the pre- NU 52 Birds of Prey. Black Canary and Oracle feel movie sized and there are lots of stories from which to choose. Catwoman also had a nice long run (and starred in some GREAT stories), but Halle Berry probably killed her for a generation.

So, there are two really obvious candidates. Both are from DC, but DC hasn’t been the most receptive place for the ladies in the last decade, or so. In my mind, that is the issue.

Apart from Wonder Woman I can’t really think of any female superhero I’d be interested in seeing in a film.

I think Black Widow has the most potential, but when you promote it as “female bond,” all it makes me think is, “well, why wouldn’t I just watch a Bond film instead of a Bond-wannabe?” in addition, I personally think Scarlet Johansen is incredibly miscast in the role, and I wouldn’t be interested in paying money just to see her. I absolutely loved seeing the Peggy Carter short, but wouldn’t bother seeing her in a film – she needs robe in the SHIELD TV series instead.

The problem with a lot of female superheroes is that they’re derivatives of male roles – She-Hulk ( why see She- Hulk when I can watch a Hulk film?) Carol Danver’s Captain Marvel ( why bother when the original Kree warrior is IMO a much better character with a richer history to base a movie upon?) Storm ( the most interesting thing about Storm is her interaction with X-Men) Sif and Valkyrie ( again, I’d rather see another Thor film than one focusing on his supporting cast, and I’d prefer to see a Defenders film than a Valkyrie film that makes me think, why didn’t they make another Thor and what’s up with this Sif-like character.)

Just make a female superhero film like Salt – all that makes me think is that you’re recognising the fact that you can’t write a female role and are admiring defeat. All it makes me do is wonder which actor (Statham, Stallone, or Schwarzenegger) the film was written for.

Kill Bill template – yes please! A totally ORIGINAL character, not based upon, or reliant on an original MALE character, or superhero group. That would interest me immensely. But the choices posters are chucking out there do not. I would also chuck The Hunger Games as another great template for producers to follow if they want a female-centric superhero franchise.

My two cents.

@Alison–

Devil’s advocate: do people generally see the Alien movies for Ripley, or the aliens? If the latter, how does that translate to a superhero movie?

Something I’d love to see: a Monica Rambeau Captain Marvel movie. Leading to her being field leader in Avengers III.
And seeing how Roger Stern’s Avengers comics always top the fans’ lists, it’s not that crazy a thought that such a thing would have quite some appeal.

Then again, with the way things seem to be (in Hollywood as well as her never even getting so much as a cameo in cartoons or video games)… I guess I’d better dream on.

In my opinion, superhero costumes pretty much HAVE to be revealing. Superheroes are constantly having to physically exert themselves. Being slow can get them killed, so why would they ever put on loose clothes? If you were a superhero, you’d want your clothes to be as tight as possible, right? Plus, when you get right down to it, comic books are consumer products; people have to buy them and sex sells.

Despite not being either a) black or b) female, Monica Rambeau is one of my all time favourite characters in comics, and I would go see a movie starring Naomie Harris as Rambeau written by somebody not an idiot in a heartbeat. The idea that people won’t go see films they cannot relate to is entirely specious and I’m proof of that. I go see films and read books not to have my own experience confirmed, but to explore other experiences that might challenge my own, or add to my own, or even relate in a non-obvious way.

Also, can whatever female superhero movie NOT be written by Joss Whedon? I know it’s surprising but I am one of the few people in the world who thinks that his writing of female characters isn’t that great. Nor do I find his cutesy self-referential dialogue to be all that engaging.

Marvel’s only summer release for 2014 features among its cast a talking raccoon and a talking tree and is based on one of their most obscure properties.

But a movie starring a woman is too risky.

“well, why wouldn’t I just watch a Bond film instead of a Bond-wannabe?”
@Frankandbeans- How about a movie adaptation of Danger Girls? If people are willing to watch Charlie’s Angels, creating a viable movie franchise around Chase and company shouldn’t be too hard.

The RESIDENT EVIL films are essentially super hero movies with a female lead and mostly female co-stars and the series seems to be doing pretty well.

I dispute the categorization of Catwoman or Elektra as superheroine films. Those characters are known as villains or antiheroines. If the movies played them differently I don’t know because I never saw them—because I’m not interested in movies that appear to center on villains or antiheroines. Their box office returns suggest that I may not be alone. A movie about Mary Marvel or the Wasp? That sounds worth seeing.

So how about the other prominent comic book movies starring women, Red Sonja and Tank Girl?

@Adam
Comic books have never been a good gauge for a superhero film’s success. Blade has never held a title for too long, but somehow managed to get a successful trilogy way before the likes of Green Lantern, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America even made it onto the screen. It’s about making a good film. Period.

@Frankandbeans:

I once read an article about the 3 Ds of female superheroes: Derivative, De-Powered and Dead. That holds a lot of truth.

Both DC and Marvel have a LOT of female derivatives of male heroes: Batgirl, Supergirl, She-Hulk, Valkyrie, Spider-Woman and the rest. For whatever reason, these are the characters that have been given the most rope as solo properties. Both Batgirl and Supergirl have long enough track records that they’ve cracked the A-list. However, none of them are really adaptable, because their origins are dependent on another character. Try watching the Supergirl movie sometime, if you disagree.

Marvel has a deep bench of female B-listers, because their universe has more viable super-teams than DC. Those characters include: Storm, Jean Grey, Rogue, Kitty Pryde, Sue Storm, Wasp, Scarlet Witch and Monica Rambeau. All essential members of their various ensemble casts. Most have been de-powered and/or dead at some point or another. None of them really have their own Rogues Gallery, supporting cast or any of the other trappings of a superhero without their team-mates. I’d include Black Widow in that group as well.

Amazingly, DC has almost no female B-listers, because DC has had a harder time sustaining team books that aren’t the Justice League. The Challengers of the Unknown started without a female member. The Doom Patrol seems to keep everyone from version-to-version, except Rita Farr. The Outsiders featured two “Nobodies Favorites” and Katana. Infinity, Inc. had Jade, but she and her brother seem to be gone in the nu52. Power Girl has bounced from the JSA to the JLE and back. Starfire and Raven have nice roles on the Teen Titans cartoon, but DC seems Hell-bent on NOT using those characters in that way in the nu52.

None of the superheroine movies have been successful yet, there’s no denying it; but on the other hand, they haven’t really been given much of a chance, either. For YEARS superhero movies in general were awful, and they even seemed to go in waves (i.e., first two Supermans were fairly good, 3rd and 4th sucked; Tim Burton’s Batman movies weren’t bad, Schumacher Batman’s killed the franchise for a while.) If they’d give female superhero movies even half the time and effort of superhero movies, they’d eventually hit their groove.

I think virtually any character can be made into a good movie if the right people are helming it. A large problem of it really is the movies execs being afraid.

But also, I’d say Wonder Woman is always looked at because only the biggest superheroes seem to be able to really get good films made. And any character besides Wonder Woman is a big step down in terms of being recognized by the public in general. Superman, Batman and Spider-Man have always been the most successful. And Iron Man is still fairly recognizable, but it was really the strength of their star that made those movies. They were written well, but letting Stark BE Downey is what made it. Green Lantern didn’t work, though granted it was because it just was a crappy movie.

There’s one other problem that executives I don’t think will ever be able to understand what it takes to have an action movie starring a woman. Many of them think if you want to have a movie work for women, you have to make a lot of it about a romance. And there’s no way around it. That’s what they think, anyway. Every female comic book character just has to be paired off with a man, it seems. But executives are dumb of course.

I’d also like to toss out a less conventional actress who could maybe pull off a superhero role, Anna Torv. On Fringe they let her be vulnerable, insecure even, and she still managed to kick a lot of ass and build up quite a body count. And they didn’t use her as the ball-breaking over the top “I’m an angry tough chick!” character. And I’d like to see her dressed in some superhero outfit.

@Jay,

“Comic books have never been a good gauge for a superhero film’s success. Blade has never held a title for too long, but somehow managed to get a successful trilogy way before the likes of Green Lantern, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America even made it onto the screen. It’s about making a good film. Period.”

Granted, but I would argue that the successful superhero films are the ones that stay true to the comic–NOT because they’re designed to appeal to the hardcore fans, but because they tapped into whatever it was that made them appealing to comic fans and figured out how to translate that to a broad audience. I think that’s what turned people off to Elektra and Catwoman, and why Man of Steel had such mixed feelings.

I don’t know if Blade is an outlier in that regard or not–I’ve never read any Blade comics, so I have no idea if they were true-to-book or not.

“The problem with a lot of female superheroes is that they’re derivatives of male roles – She-Hulk ( why see She- Hulk when I can watch a Hulk film?)”

Because She-Hulk and Hulk are too completely different characters. One’s a scientist, one’s a lawyer; one doesn’t have control (usually), the other one does; one prefers not to Hulk out, the other spends most of her time that way. If a She-Hulk movie were made properly, it would be funny and crazy and at least a little meta, which is not really what Hulk films have been so far.

Just because a female persona is derivative of a male persona doesn’t mean the female character is derivative of a male character. Batgirl (and Batwoman) isn’t Batman. Spider-Woman isn’t Spider-Man. Neither of the Captain Marvels are either of the Captain Marvels. They’re all different characters with different personalities and backgrounds and stories.

The biggest obstacle, I think, with this sort of thought exercise is that it’s difficult for us, as comic book fans, to get inside the head of non-comic book fans. For example, we all know that there’s a fantastic She-Hulk movie just waiting to be made. At the very least, she’d be a great addition to an Avenges or Hulk sequel. But go mention that idea on any message board that’s not dedicated to comic books (or “geek” culture in general) and the responses you’re going to get will be heavy on “There’s seriously a character called ‘She-Hulk!? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard ROFLMAO.”

To us, it’s just a character’s name we’ve heard hundreds of times since we were kids. To someone who’s never heard it before, it’s like hearing they’re going to add a character called “Her-Spock” to the next Star Trek movie.

@ Chad re: She-Hulk

I think ZZZ summed up it up pretty well. And I know that She-Hulk, nowadays, has a distinct personality to the Hulk (although she generally was just a female Hulk at the start) but she still is tied into the Hulk universe and their would be a need to link her to it. Therefore you’d have to pull out Mark Ruffalo, CGI the Hulk into the film, and it would still leave me thinking – why is this She-Hulk film not about the Hulk, and featuring more Hulk? I would be more interested in seeing a new Hulk film than a She-Hulk spin-off, which I think most of the public would also be.

This is the point: you’re not trying to convince me to acknowledge She-Hulk is a good character. You’re trying to convince me why I would want a She-Hulk film instead of a Hulk film. And this is why Marvel Studios will never make a She-Hulk film. The same argument goes for Storm – why would I want a solo film about Storm instead of another X-Men film? Why would I want to watch a movie about Carol Danvers when the Kree Warrior who appears at the start of the film, and is the catalyst for her origins and everything about her, is more interesting? Why bother watching a Black Widow film when the last Iron Man, Avengers, and Captain America 2 film with all those other characters was much more interesting? That’s why Elektra sucked – there was no Daredevil.

If you want to get me to watch a film featuring a female superhero, make it about a character that stands on its own, and is not contingent on a more interesting and popular male character. Use a female archetype like Wonder Woman, or Kill Bill, or Hunger Games like I said before.

The female superhero movie names people are chucking out left, right, and centre sound really boring and tokenistic, like they should be made because “it’s the right thing to do, equality, blah, blah, blah” but at the end of the day I don’t care. I don’t care if it’s a male character or a female character – just a compelling one that interests me and is original, and doesn’t make me think about the more popular character it’s based on.

When people say, “make a Carol Danver’s Captain Marvel film,” my first thought is ” f@ck that, a Black Panther film would be a lot more interesting film than that!” or a Man-Thing film, or a Wonder Woman film, a Machine Man film, or even a Dr Strange film.

I would kill puppies for a Katee Sackhoff Captain Marvel film.

I’ve wanted see Gina Carano to play Wonder Woman ever since I saw Haywire. She has everything I think a live-action Wonder Woman needs.

I know some people have problems with the revealing costumes super heroines wear, and I sometimes do too when they start looking like strippers, but you have to admit that real life women look better in super hero costumes than real life men do. If you do not believe me, just look at even the most athletic looking guy dressed as Aquaman compared to cosplaying women dressed as Power Girl. I think it is because attractive healthy women tend to wear form fitting outfits on a daily basis whereas guys just do not. For this, you would think that this would make having a super heroine movie easier to sell.
Also, why are movie companies still stuck in the past, while tv shows have gotten past this? Not only do you have Buffy, you have Alias and Nikita as examples that prove the opposite.

Carol Danvers has long since eclipsed Mar-Vell in prominence. While she is a derivative of him in the sense that he preceded her with her powers, name, costume, etc, she doesn’t have the same branding problem that Supergirl, Batgirl, Spider-Woman, and She-Hulk have, namely that they would be perceived as the female derivatives of popular male heroes.

In fact, the first Captain Marvel movie could be a condensed retelling of Mar-Vell’s first mission on Earth, how “Walter Lawson” and Carol Danvers met, etc, and have it climax with the incident when the Psychomagnetron blew up and gave Carol superpowers. Except instead of killing Yon-Rogg, it kills Mar-Vell, and Carol assumes his mantle and becomes a hero in his name. In other words, don’t just make him her boyfriend. Make him her Uncle Ben/Obi-Wan.

Just like to second Kevin Woods; there are hundreds of female comics fans in Glasgow. Always cringe at the depiction of shock, horror ‘woman in a comic shop’ trope in Big Bang Theory and the like. Maybe we just a more advanced society in Scotland! :-)

Further counterarguments:

1) Movie costumes don’t have to match the comics costumes anyway; cf. the X-Men, Hawkeye, Catwoman, and plenty others.

4) Iron Man and Thor weren’t especially recognizable to the general public before their movies came out. The Guardians of the Galaxy are very obscure, but they’re getting a movie.

5) Plenty of female-led action movies have succeeded, including ALIENS, KILL BILL, and THE HUNGER GAMES, so why wouldn’t it work for superheroes?

6) There have been awful male-led superhero movies, but nobody’s blamed that on the gender of the leads.

9) As with 1), the point of an adaptation is to adapt, i.e. to change and reinterpret, not to copy exactly. The benefit of an adaptation is that it gives you a chance to correct the failings of the original work and emphasize its good qualities. So the sexism of the original storylines could be updated just like the lack of racial diversity in DC and Marvel comics has been updated in movies, or just like early Marvel’s antiquated notions about radiation have been replaced with origins based in genetic engineering and the like.

Carol Danvers is derivative of the original Captain Marvel in the same Wally West was derivative of Barry Allen: she isn’t. She is the successor to the Captain Marvel mantle and legacy. Just like Wally West was the successor to the flash. She was somewhat derivative of Ms. Marvel, but the difference is her appeal has never been connected to the original Captain Marvel, especially with her 2000s revival. But now, as the current Captain Marvel, she is upholding a legacy.

@Adam
I think comic book films just need to remain true the spirit of the comics in order to be successful. But that has nothing to do with maintaining a monthly comic book as being a gauge of success.

Just on terms of financial success, Ghost Rider is another film whose character can’t currently sustain a comic but still gets a shot at a movie,

Let’s look at some of the films discussed or in development at various times starring male leads: Luke Cage (great avenger, but can’t sustain a Power Man book, especially without the Iron Fist), Namor (last series lasted 12 issues), Dr. Strange (Can only manage mini-series), Black Panther (more successful in recent years but can’t sustain in the current market). And films set to release: Ant-Man (has Pym ever sustained a solo book other than Tales to Astonish?)

Sure, these characters have had long running books in the past, but so have female leads. She-Hulk has had a 25, 60, and 38 (most recent) issue runs, along with some successful mini series. Carol Danvers has had a 25 and 47 (most recent) issue runs as Ms Marvel, along with her current volume as Captain Marvel. Barbara Gordon has her current title, as well as has led the Birds of Prey to over a hundred issues.

Carol Danvers has long since eclipsed Mar-Vell in prominence. While she is a derivative of him in the sense that he preceded her with her powers, name, costume, etc, she doesn’t have the same branding problem that Supergirl, Batgirl, Spider-Woman, and She-Hulk have, namely that they would be perceived as the female derivatives of popular male heroes.

In fact, the first Captain Marvel movie could be a condensed retelling of Mar-Vell’s first mission on Earth, how “Walter Lawson” and Carol Danvers met, etc, and have it climax with the incident when the Psychomagnetron blew up and gave Carol superpowers. Except instead of killing Yon-Rogg, it kills Mar-Vell, and Carol assumes his mantle and becomes a hero in his name. In other words, don’t just make him her boyfriend. Make him her Uncle Ben/Obi-Wan.

They also could drop the Mar-Vell aspect entirely. What I mean is, they do what you’re suggesting but reduce his role even further and basically just have it be a Kree mission on Earth ends up with the Psychomagnetron blowing up and Carol is there as a representative of the Air Force fighting the Kree and gets her powers from the explosion. The Captain Marvel name can come pretty easily from the fact that she was a Captain in the Air Force. It doesn’t have to be explained using Mar-Vell.

“The Captain Marvel name can come pretty easily from the fact that she was a Captain in the Air Force. It doesn’t have to be explained using Mar-Vell.”

How about having one of the Kree aliens *be* Mar-Vell, but he’s a human sympathizer and passes his powers onto Carol (a la Abin Sur and Hal Jordan)? That way, the Mar-Vell aspect is respectfully maintained while still letting it be about Carol. She can even take his name in his honor while still making it her own.

Here’s how to do a Wonder Woman costume for a film:

http://michaelmay.us/08blog/0926_fanwwmoviecostume.jpg

I’ve talked about a Captain Marvel movie in the past. Here’s the idea I came up with:

Have Carol working as the chief of security for, perhaps, a SHIELD facility dealing with extraterrestrial concerns. Early on, something starts going on nearby. She goes to investigate, and finds a scientist at the facility fighting an alien beside some alien machine. She gets involved, and the machine explodes. The alien seems to die, and Carol and the scientist are both badly injured. Carol recovers quickly, and soon figures out that she’s developing superpowers. The powers grow over time. Meanwhile, the scientist reveals himself as a Kree named Mar-Vell, who was sent to spy on Earth, and has come to appreciate the planet, even while his superior officer, Yon-Rogg, had grown to hate it. Mar-Vell is now dying, but he spends what little time he has left training Carol with her new powers. They become close friends – nothing more, and Mar-Vell can even mention that he’ll be happy to rejoin his beloved Una on the other side – but he dies at the middle point. The same point at which Yon-Rogg mysteriously reappears. Carol spends the next quarter of the movie trying to track him down, and then the last quarter of the movie fighting him.

Mar-Vell’s still there, and his own original story is largely intact, but it’s not his story. He’s there not as a romantic interest or inspiration for Carol. He’s there to provide exposition. Meanwhile, it makes Carol’s origin about her, not him. She didn’t get her powers from him, she got them from some weird device that interacted with her in a weird way. He just happened to be there.

Make it Carol’s story. Make her powers HER powers, not someone else’s powers that she’s just taking. That’s the way to do it, I think.

@Blair

Don’t mistake *any* element of THE BIG BANG THEORY for a realistic depiction. Not only is it a terribly unfunny television show, but it’s utter fantasy when depicting nerds.

I fucking LOATHE that show

While I acknowledge there appears to be a number of rabid Carol Danvers fans here, I have yet to read anything about the character from her Ms Marvel, Binary, Warbird, and Captain Marvel appearances that even come close to the sagas the original Captain Marvel featured in. The push for a Carol Danvers film seems to come from a desire to make a Marvel film featuring a female superhero because “females need representation!” and a number of fanboy wet dreams featuring Katie Sackhoff. The fact you guys are even brainstorming ways to bring her story to the screen by making alterations to her origins highlights how convoluted the character’s origins are, and how much they’re tied into everyone else’s.

What a waste of time when there are so many other Marvel characters whose origins can stand on their own without any tinkering or rewriting, and aren’t reliant on another Marvel characters.

Making a Carol Danvers Captain Marvel film without the original character to base her on is like making a Robin film without linking the origins to Batman, or a Steel film without linking it to the Superman mythos. That certainly worked out well didn’t it?

If you really want to see Carol Danvers on screen then they need to make her a supporting character in an upcoming Avengers film, have the original Captain Marvel appear, and then use him as the catalyst for her origins like they did in the animated series. Or better yet make a film about a Marvel character that doesn’t require such a roundabout manner of creating a franchise for a superhero 99% of the public hasn’t heard of or even care about.

Ultron is the villain of the next Avengers film without them having Hank Pym in the movie. They’re featuring Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch in the next film without referring to Magneto. Comic book origins don’t matter when it comes to movies. They can come up with any origin they want. Meanwhile, “Captain Marvel” is inherently one of the most generic superhero names out there. There doesn’t need to be an explanation for the name – it’s just a goofy superhero name (the fact that she is already a Captain in the Air Force just makes it so much easier to explain the name). There does not need to be any reference to the Kree Captain Marvel for Carol Danvers to work as Captain Marvel.

@Brian–

Yeah, but it feels kind of bare to have Carol without the Mar-vell roots, doesn’t it? I have the same objection to making an Ultron movie without Pym–even some small (no pun) mention of Pym while setting seeds for the Ant-Man movie. To put it another way: I thought that both Hulk movies were awful without the gamma bomb and Rick Jones. Now, the second Hulk movie really rushed past the origin, so the bomb and Rick were very secondary, but the complete absence bothered me. (It probably doesn’t help comic sales when a moviegoer decides to try the comic and gets a totally different origin.)

Contrast: some of the other big films managed to include key references without it being terribly intrusive. I *really* liked the inclusion of the original Human Torch into the Captain America film, even if it was only a few seconds. And since we didn’t see all of Cap’s World War II adventures, it’s left to our imaginations: maybe the Invaders did happen in the cinematic universe.

Finally, “they can come up with any origin they want” gets really risky. Like I said, it was irrelevant for the Hulk, but Cap, Iron Man, and Spider-Man stuck with the classic origins and pulled it off well. Catwoman made things up, and it came off badly. Like I’ve always said, Hollywood doesn’t need to pander to comic fans, but they do need to tap into what makes comics popular with the fans and translate it to large audiences. They can maintain enough of the Kree origins and make a minor reference to Mar-vell and still pull it off.

Incidentally, in reference to the Legends image of Wonder Woman above, I love the fact that her supposed post-Crisis public debut (at least I think that’s how that was supposed to work) includes Guy Gardner ogling her. So very 1986.

Smithy: For my part, the original Captain Marvel never really blew me away, while Carol’s long been a favourite of mine. I’m not the least bit interested in a Mar-Vell movie. But a Carol movie is something I desperately want to see. Plus, Mar-Vell’s origin is way more complicated than Carol’s. Carol’s origin is that an alien machine blew up and gave her powers. Boom – that’s all there is to it. Mar-Vell started off as an alien who used a jetpack and wrist laser to fight enemies, then was given powers by some weird alien, then given other weird powers by another weird alien.

I originally mentioned this in my comment about She-Hulk up above but it felt like I was getting off-topic (and my comment was long enough already) so I removed it, but now that we’re discussing Captain Marvel:

Just like the issue with the name “She-Hulk” sounding perfectly acceptable to comic book readers but laughably silly to non-readers, there’s a potential problem with Captain Marvel that is extremely easy for us to overlook: the name.

Most non-comic book readers have never heard of Captain Marvel – even the ones who know about DC’s Captain Marvel know him as “Shazam” (to the extent that DC has actually changed his name to that) – and most of the non-comic book readers have only recently come to the realization that there’s a company called “Marvel” that makes comic books and comic book movies.

If they’re not very careful with how they market the character, adding a Captain Marvel to the next Avengers movie could seem about as credible as adding a character named “Captain DC” or “Captain Warner Bros.” to a Justice League movie.

Much as I hope we do get Carol Danvers in Avengers 2 or sooner – and Katee Sackhoff is absolutely perfect for the role – I fully expect a lot of clueless reviewers to complain about how the “obvious product placement” totally took them out of the movie. (Although, having made her name playing a character named “Starbuck,” I’m sure Ms. Sackhoff would take it in stride.)

[...] answers only get better, finish enjoying the article at [...]

[...] outright rejected. It begs the question,why doesn't Hollywood want a Wonder Woman film? Superhero costumes are always a Halloween favorite and this year female superhero costumes are gonna…-Men like the Storm Costume and the Jean Grey costume. At every superhero fancy dress party and [...]

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