Monday, February 16, 2009

Just Say No: Female Superhero Movies

Seeing as how there seems to be a rush by Hollywood to make more superhero movies due to last summer's success of The Dark Knight and Iron Man, there seem to be a lot of chicks out there deploring the lack of female superhero movies. Well, you know what? It's never going to work. Too bad. Any chick flick female superhero movie would be a failure. Hell, they already tried that with Elektra, and we all know THAT was a flop. She was fine in Daredevil, but certainly didn't deserve her own movie.

Anyway. I read an article about a month ago on the same topic, and the dude in question had a few salient points.

1. Wishing for more female superhero movies is kind of like wishing there was a Sex in the City knockoff, but with an all male cast. It'll never work.
He goes on to say that it won't work because men and women have different interests. This is true. Men (and odd random girls like myself) want to watch superhero movies because they're usually ACTION movies. And its men that make up the greatest portion of the demographic for comic books and comic book based movies. After all, its all the little boys that wish they could grow up and be superheroes, not little girls. One could argue that it's the way we're socialized, and that there are plenty of women, many of them tomboys, that wish they were superheroes, too. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Here's an example: Let's say when Google Chrome was in beta, Google decided, "Hey, I know! Let's release this as being only available to Mac users!" Of course *I* would have been happy, but then, I'm a Mac user. But would it have been a smart business move? No. If you're developing something, whatever it is, you need to develop it to appeal to the majority of people in your demographic. And women simply are not a part of the comic book movie watching demographic, unless they watch with their boyfriends.

2. Even Wonder Woman was only a success because men supported her. The old Wonder Woman television show was a hit because men tuned in. Men tuned in because Wonder Woman was hot and watching her rope bad guys with her golden lasso fulfilled some sort of hot chick, dominatrix fetish fantasy. Wonder Woman may be a girl, but her audience was never really comprised of women.
I agree that this is also true. Most men I know that liked and watched Wonder Woman back in the day did so because Linda Carter was hot. I don't know whether or not any of the men I know that liked the show have delved deeper into their psyches to discover that they had latent hot chick dominatrix fantasies, but it is probably there. I think the girls out there that were fans thought she was cool and wanted to fly an invisible airplane and lasso people, but I don't think the prevailing desire for little girls at that time was hunting down bad guys, beating them up, and then hauling them off to the authorities. I don't think women want those things now. And that's what superhero movies are about. That's what comic books are about. Beating the bad guys and bringing them to justice.

3. Men and women simply have different interests. Men are interested in action movies with heroes blowing things up and saving the girl. Men are interested in imagining themselves as ass-kicking heroes. Women are interested in movies about relationships and romance and love.
Also true. Just like he said, men = action movies, women = rom-coms or just sappy love stories, period. Random story: I was in a Blockbuster trying to find something to rent over Christmas. I was with my manz, his sister, and her fiance. As we were trying to discover a happy medium of something we could all watch and enjoy, the guys wanted action movies, or dramas, or thrillers, and the occasional comedy. Manz sister wanted to watch generally chick flicks or comedies. What'd we end up with? Oldboy. Me and the manz had seen it before. I tricked his sister into wanting to watch it. Her: "Well, I guess we can watch this...what's it about?" Me: "Um,'s a thriller...did you like Fight Club?" Her: "Oh, yeah!" Me: "Well, its kinda like that!" I feel bad about tricking her because I think she's scarred from watching Oldboy, and I don't think she'll ever trust my opinion again. *sigh*

And sure, Dart Adams argues that a good female superhero movie could be done, if it was well written and well executed by a good director. However, the problem with a female protagonist in most movies is that there's usually some sort of love story involved. And if there isn't, then it's about relationships. I won't go on about sexism in general, but in our society most women are defined by the men in their lives. For example, Hillary Clinton was almost always referred to as Mrs. Clinton when she was a senator, she wasn't often called Senator Clinton. Or if women are not defined by their husbands, they're defined by their families or children. "Mother of...sister of...etc etc" You get the idea. That's not what comic books are really about. In any of the female superhero comic books I ever read, they were mostly written for men because all of them were voluptuous girls with tons of T&A. They were also mostly about kicking ass and bringing the bad guys to justice. Any of the relational stuff was purely engineered towards lovemaking, i.e. having the girls take their clothes off.

Anyhow, towards the end is where the author and I diverged on opinions. He ended with:

Rather than trying to twist and turn guy movies into something that might be interesting to women, consider making more movies for women instead. Quality movies like Sex and the City are all too rare, and its success over the summer proved what needs to be done. Stop trying to force feed women what men want, and consider giving them what women want instead. We don’t need more female superhero movies, we need more movies for females.

No. We. Don't. PLEASE no more movies "for females". How about we just need more movies that are both educational and interesting? More thought provoking movies? One of the reasons I loved Slumdog Millionaire is because it was eye opening about life in other countries (Of course it wasn't 100% realistic per se, but still...I'm sure plenty of Americans were shocked to see people in this day and age living in such squalor. That's real shit, people.) and also because you got a little of everything, some action, some suspense, and for the ladies, the love story. That's what I call win.

PS. I just sat here after writing this last sentence trying to recall which movies I really liked in 2008. Here's the short list:

The Dark Knight
Iron Man
The Fall
Slumdog Millionaire

Er...yeah. Can we just get good original movies, period? No more adaptations or remakes, plskthxbai.


  1. Nice one, Sun! If someone just makes the movie and writes it well without thinking about a formula it'll work. "Doomsday" and the "Underworld" series tricked dudes into watching a female hero due to her being hot and kickassy.

    Girls enjoyed them as well. Elektra was a writing and scripting fail. Wonder Woman was one of the worst female heroes ever created if you break her down to the molecular level. Invisible jet? Really? LMAO!


  2. One of my all time favorite flicks is a super heroine joint where this crafty, kick ass, not textbook beautiful lead female character kicks the ass of this malevolent bitch.

    The film is called Alien. You might should Netflix this joint and get familiar.

    And on the Twitter, I'm known as DP2FTV

  3. DP:

    Sir, you trippin'. This whole post was predominantly about comic book super heroines. Not slamming heroines in general. There are quite a few movies featuring heroines that I do like. But I don't think that a formula comic book movie would be worthwhile with a female protagonist.

    I don't think Alien or its sequel counts in this category because the original movie was made long before the comic. When the original movie came out, I was a year old, and I grew up in a traditionally Korean household and we weren't allowed to watch mainstream American movies. The only movies I remember seeing when I grew up was Disney shit. When I left my house I never bothered to see it or the sequel, when the sequel came out I was fangirl-ing on Transformers, GI Joe, and John Woo. If I want to see an action movie, I go to see people get their asses beat with martial arts (or in Park Chan Woo's case, a hammer) or else shot up with guns. I don't particularly care for seeing slimy shit explode out of people's stomachs.

  4. The movie 'Alien' is a sick film. All the other ish you may eff with is related to that movie in some way. it's a cerebral pyscho killer thriller jammie. trust me it worth your every minute spent viewing it.

    At the end of the day there isn't a movie worth watching when the story isn't redeeming in some sense. No female COMIC BOOK heroine movies have been made yet and in reality the writing for male superheroes hasn't been that much better until recently.

  5. Don't get me wrong, DP. I love Ridley Scott as a director, I do. And Sigourney Weaver is an amazing actress. I guess I just never got into the "monster movie" genre, and have never been a fan of American made horror movies.

    We're gonna have to agree to disagree on your comment about story. Most action movies don't have much of a story at all, or else a VERY simple one, just to have some sort of premise to base the movie around. I was just talking to manz today about District B-13. The movie was great, the story, not so much. And there has been one female comic book heroine movie made, as I mentioned, Elektra. Which was a fail. But what I'm wondering is what do you mean by recently? That's sort of subjective, isn't it? I mean, I know plenty of Marvel heads who will argue that X-Men 1 and 2 were well done, and they were released in 2000 and 2003, respectively. Those same heads will also say that Spider Man 1 was a good movie, which was released in 2002. So do you mean you think that the writing has only gotten good in the last year, when Dark Knight and Iron Man were so commercially huge, or the last decade?

    And you know, it's my personal opinion that the reason why comic book movies have gotten so good, is because they finally made movies for the comic book fans. Hollywood finally decided that they should cater to the demographic...which is what I was saying. Cater to the demographic.