ByAlisha Grauso, writer at
Editor-at-large here at Movie Pilot. Nerd out with me on Twitter, comrades: @alishagrauso
Alisha Grauso

DISCLAIMER: For the purposes of this article, I am referring to modern day comic book films, i.e. everything post-Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yes, movies with black and female leads have happened before, but not in the current, modern renaissance of superhero films.


Hey, major movie studios, when are you going to make a superhero movie featuring a woman/person of color/gay character/queer actor or actress in the role?

That's what fans (well, most of us anyway) have been asking for what feels like forever. And so far, we've been answered with either excuses ("But, like, adapting Wonder Woman's story is really HARD, you guys!" - DC) or ambiguity ("Well, I mean, if it's the right TIME for one but it kind of just hasn't been because...uh, reasons..." - Marvel).

Which is why it is so. damn. exciting. to have seen the slate of upcoming DC movies Warner Bros. released today and realize they included [Wonder Woman](movie:45787) AND [Cyborg](movie:1043082). And not just rumored, but really for real this time. On top of that, they announced there would be a [The Flash (Movie)](movie:15273) (separate from the TV show), starring self-described queer actor Ezra Miller in the titular role. Amazing, right?! It's huge news! wouldn't have known it from the way Warner Bros. announced it. Because it wasn't an announcement at all, but was discussed during an investor call, after which a standard press release was sent out to members of the media.

Pictured: The opposite of excitement.
Pictured: The opposite of excitement.

In other words, about as boring and low-key as they possibly could have done it. Come on, Warner Bros! Come on, DC! This is not the way to announce projects of this caliber.

Basically, DC had a huge opportunity here to get the jump on Marvel (for once) and they blew it. Warner Bros. (and so by extension, DC) simply dumped every bit of news they had all at the same time today, purging it all in a few hours. Just think of how great it might have been for them from a goodwill and public relations perspective had they actually taken the time to do it right, to announce each of these projects individually and make a big deal about them. Because they are big deals. Being the first to get a female-led superhero film out there, then a superhero film headlined by a person of color, and finally, casting an openly gay actor as one of your iconic superheroes? That's what fans have been waiting for!

New York Comic Con ended just four short days ago. Why not have a panel there that would have blown Marvel's [Daredevil](movie:47230) session out of the water? Not that we're not excited for Netflix's Daredevil series, but let's be real. It wouldn't have held a candle to news about not one, not two, but three barrier-breaking movies. Or they could have timed the release of these announcements every few weeks, and kept a lot of positive momentum going for themselves, especially as they're coming off of [The Flash](series:1068303)'s record-breaking premiere numbers. What a squandered opportunity by Warner Bros. and DC to leapfrog Marvel, at least for a short while, in the PR game.

Just think of how many new, young fans DC might have gained had they and Warner Bros. had the foresight to say something like, "Yes, we have cast an openly queer actor in the role of The Flash. In this day and age, where so many kids and teenagers are struggling with their sexual identity, losing hope, facing isolation, bullying, being left out, we wanted to show them that superheroes are not exclusive to a certain sexual orientation or identity, but for everyone."

Or, "We realize our industry has sometimes been slow to understand when things are changing. But studies have shown that females now make up half the comic book reading demographic and more girls are growing up as comic book fans than ever before. We owe so much of our success not just to boys and men, but to girls and women, too. So we thought it was well past time to proudly announce our [Wonder Woman](movie:45787) movie, because girls can kick butt, too."

Or, "Many, many minorities and people of color have watched the incredible superhero resurgence playing out in their movie theaters and TV screens and have thought, 'Where am I in that...?' Many have watched and felt excluded or left out because there wasn't a face or race they could identify with, not one who was simply a helper to the hero, but THE hero. But heroes and heroines come in all colors, just like our amazing fans. And that's why we're officially developing [Cyborg](movie:1043082)."

And this is what is so maddening about DC. I have been accused of being a Marvel fangirl who just loves to bash DC more than once. But it's not that at all, really. Believe me, I want to have faith in DC. Knowledgeable about Marvel as I am, I nevertheless always hope for DC to do something that will amaze me just as much, because that sort of vision and quality can only ever be good for geeky little fans like me.

It just seems like for every two steps it takes forward, DC takes one step back. Constantly getting in their own way, there have been so many moments like this where a seemingly simple step has been bungled completely. This was a great opportunity to make a statement in a big way and stir up a storm. Instead, the news was delivered with all the strength of a light drizzle.

UPDATE: A LOT of you have responded with "Why does it matter? It shouldn't matter what the actor or actresses' race, sexual orientation, or gender is - they can act, they can act."

This is why it matters: Because as long as little girls are seeing threaten to shoot up schools because they dare to let a woman speak about video games, when black teenagers are watching policemen mace and taze and kill them simply for walking down the street, when gay kids are getting bullied and committing suicide just for their sexual orientation, then yes, I'm afraid it still very much does matter. It shouldn't. You're right. But the reality is that it does. It has less to do with the actors and actresses than it does with the ideal, the symbolism, the hope they provide.


Do you think DC is its own worst enemy?

(Source: Warner Bros.)


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