BySean Erickson, writer at
Exploring the area between movie geek and film nerd.
Sean Erickson

When an 11 year old girl named Rowan recently asked DC Comics why there aren't more female superheroes out there, DC Comics replied that they are working on it. Indeed, DC and Warner Bros will be releasing Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot, in 2017 and it is currently scheduled to be the first female-led DC superhero movie since a little something called Catwoman crawled into theatres in 2004.

Rowan, please stay away from Catwoman. Please...
Rowan, please stay away from Catwoman. Please...

Sisters in Arms

It's a justifiably big deal for DC and Warner Bros to finally be releasing a [Wonder Woman](movie:45787) movie but it's really the best possible time for it to arrive. And it should be noted that while they may be first they're not striking out into female superhero territory alone. Marvel has their own heroine, Captain Marvel (aka Ms. Marvel) launching in 2018 and Sony has plans for an upcoming Spider-Woman movie as well. And yes, while we're at it, let's go ahead and tip our hats to television's Agent Carter and all the world saving that [Black Widow](movie:1070824) and Agent Maria Hill have been up to these past years.

The Unflattering Past

The fact that the last two major female fronted superhero movies were Catwoman and Elektra could actually explain a great deal as to why there has been a prolonged drought of these kinds of movies in Hollywood for so long. If either of these movies were successful there's no doubt we would have seen sequels and possibly more female superhero movies following in their footsteps. But the simple fact of the matter is that those movies were terrible.

Setting the Stage

It's not exactly like Hollywood is off the hook for not trying a little harder to make a decent Catwoman or Elektra movie, but the truth is that it's only been over the past five years or so that Hollywood has really figured out how to consistently make a good superhero movie. Not a good male or female fronted superhero movie - just getting the superhero genre right, period.

Yes, there were good Spider-Man and Batman movies before 2008 but those were something of an anomaly at the time. It wasn't until relatively recently that the studios started figuring out why these movies were good and taking a chance on hiring the right creative people to see these movies through that the superhero movie came to be the kind of thing that 11 year old Rowan can actually enjoy.

Timing is Everything

Chances are that if Hollywood had made a Wonder Woman movie in 2007, it would have been just as terrible as Catwoman. The fact that studios turned down Avenger's pioneer Joss Whedon's Wonder Woman movie around that time should tell you how clueless they were. The good news is that Warner Bros has been listening and learning and not only is the time right for Wonder Woman to once again grace the cinema screens, they've brought in a female director to lead the way.

Promo art for Joss Whedon's Wonder Woman from 2005.
Promo art for Joss Whedon's Wonder Woman from 2005.

Setting the Bar

In an ideal world, it wouldn't be big news for a female director like Michelle MacLaren to get attached to a superhero movie - never mind a Wonder Woman movie. The fact that this means Gal Gadot and Wonder Woman will be even further scrutinised than the normal DC or Marvel movie is sad to realise. It shouldn't be that way but this is where we're at right now. Wonder Woman will be setting the bar for the new female superhero movie whether it wants to or not. This is the movie that 11 year old Rowan is waiting for.

But what is great about having this stage set for 2017 is that no matter what, there will be a future for female superheroes. The success of Batman and the past five years of Marvel movies, and the sheer number of fans that these movies have amassed, can actually take a bit of the burden from Wonder Woman's shoulders. The movie will certainly be a hit, but even if it somehow, inconceivably managed to under-perform it's not like Hollwood will react the same way they did in 2004 and start to think that there isn't a market for female superheroes. The fans are out there and they will show up to a movie that isn't just treated like brainless product.

DC and Warner Bros have come a long way since Catwoman. They have the chance now to go from arguably the worst female superhero movie to setting the bar for future female superhero movies. But the real pleasure is in knowing that, no matter what, sisters in arms like Captain Marvel and Black Widow will have her back.


Which female superhero movie would you most like to see?


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