It's a question that female comic-book fans have been asking for quite some time, and now they are getting some big backing, with celebrities adding their voices. Where are all of the female-fronted super-hero movies?
Yes, we had the absolutely appalling Supergirl in the 80s (and at some point, I will write a full review about just how misogynistic it really is), and a couple of super-villain movies (Elektra, Catwoman), but where is the flick where the main character is not only female, but kick-ass and on the side of good?
This is clearly a topic close to Chastain's heart, as she spoke out in an interview with The Wrap about the need for more female voices in film, and her upcoming movie The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. This story-of-a-love-story is actually three movies, entitled "Him", "Her" and "Them", which sounds like a groundbreaking idea, and the best option to give us as accurate a perspective on love as possible with the vehicle of film. It also turns out that this concept is courtesy of Chastain herself, and her desire to really push the boundaries of her character's role.
It's a fact, the majority of films in Hollywood are from the male perspective, and the female characters, very rarely do they get to speak to another female character in a movie, and when they do it's usually about a guy, not anything else. So they're very male-centric, Hollywood films, in general. So I think it's incredible that Ned Benson, when I said I'd love to know where she goes, says okay I'm going to write another film from the female perspective.
She also talks about how she feels that women are under-represented in the superhero genre, especially when it comes to Scarlett Johansson and [Black Widow](movie:1070824).
Where is the Scarlett Johansson superhero movie? I don't understand it, why is it taking so long for this? This woman clearly shows that people want to go see her in the movies. ‘Lucy,’ didn't it beat ‘Hercules’ by a lot opening weekend, when it was made for a lot less? She shows that she kicks ass, she's a great actress. ‘Under the Skin’ is an incredible film, and why are we still waiting for a go-ahead on a superhero movie starring Scarlett Johansson? To me, it's a no-brainer. You want to make money, put Scarlett Johansson in a superhero movie!
She's not wrong. While most of the superhero buzz this summer was (understandably) around [Guardians of the Galaxy](movie:424073) Guardians of the Galaxy, both Lucy and Hercules fit within the borders of the genre, and Lucy beat Hercules from a financial standpoint. It earned $43 million on it's opening weekend, and is so far made more than $200 million while still playing in theaters.
The quality of a film cannot be judged entirely on box office figures, but that should definitely make an impact when a studio is deciding what to produce.
Kevin Feige (chief of Marvel studios) has previously said that they would like to make a Black Widow movie, but has blamed the lack of one thus far on "timing".
I think it comes down to timing, which is what I've sort of always said, and it comes down to us being able to tell the right story. I hope we do it sooner rather than later...You may notice from those release dates, we have three for 2017. And that's because just the timing worked on what was sort of gearing up. But does it mean you have to put one franchise on hold for three or four years in order to introduce a new one? I don't know.
Black Widow movie in the offing?
Well, Marvel may be gearing up for some kind of giant Black Widow storyline that beats out the stand alone Wonder Woman and female Spider-Man spin off (Black Cat, probably). But I expected a little more a little sooner from the comic book giant, as did many other fans.
How many movies has Iron Man had so far? The Hulk? Thor? Captain America? Is it really likely that within almost ten movies around the Avengers team, it was just not possible to create a single Black Widow movie?
Of course, now the issue is that with Marvel expanding their cinematic universe, it makes more sense to introduce new teams and characters, rather than solo projects for existing ones. This is where Guardians of the Galaxy comes in to play, where the rumors of Inhumans make sense, and where the only solo movies we are likely to see are those that will filter into the larger game plan. Dr Strange, for example, or Ant-Man, both of whom are new characters that fit easily into story arcs with existing teams.
The difference between a Marvel studios project and a film like The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is that Marvel is now attempting to essentially re-create their entire comic universe on the big screen. It would be fantastic to be able to create multiple solo projects for each and every Marvel character, but there is only limited time and funding to put toward each project. For that reason, I think that we will see more duo movies than truly solo ones.
Just look at Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It may be titled as a Captain America movie, but is essentially a tag-team effort between Cap and Natasha, and I believe that future "solo" movies will be far more likely to follow this format. That would mean that at this point, a Black Widow titled movie would also need to include a male character from the team, and that wouldn't have the same impact.
Maybe at some point we could see a duo film that crosses over two female characters - Black Widow and Gamora (though that would be some serious reaching for a connection!) or Black Widow and Medusa, as an introduction to the Inhuman/Avengers connection. The other, more likely option is that we will see a female-fronted Marvel movie introducing a new female character. Ms Marvel (or Captain Marvel) is a fan favorite for this option.
I feel like Chastain has some good points about how women are often presented within the wider world of film, including her mention of the Bechdel test (whether or not two women talking in a movie discuss something other than men, essentially), but it may be a little too late for a Black Widow movie now that the juggernaut of Marvel has really started to roll forward.
I am actually thrilled to see that Marvel may be moving away from sequels and spin-offs, and more into team movies, new characters and duo films, as I think that it is far more interesting than just yet another Iron Man movie.
However, I am sad that by the time the numbers are there to show that a female-fronted solo movie makes financial sense, we may have passed the point where it makes sense in the grand scheme of things for Marvel.
Luckily, DC is perfectly poised for their Wonder Woman movie, as they are still catching up with Marvel's massive multi-phase plan. With the introduction of the Justice League, in many ways they find themselves where Marvel did after the first Avengers movie. There will (and should) be solo spin-offs to cement the characters in the minds of the casual movie-goer, and to lay a solid foundation for the DC cinematic universe. This is where a Wonder Woman movie will shine, and where Marvel should have brought out Black Widow.
I applaud Jessica Chastain for addressing such a major issue, but sadly, I don't think that we will ever really get an answer.