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Monday, August 03, 2015 

Does Hollywood have a superheroine problem, or is the press putting their complaints in all the wrong places?

The AP Wire's talking about movies with superheroines in the spotlight, and the wishes there be some more produced:
Batman. Spider-Man. Iron Man. Ant-Man.

The list of male superheroes starring in their own big-screen escapades is bigger than Tony Stark's ego, and the billions of dollars these films have generated rival the fortunes of the well-off tinkerer. However, in spite of Hollywood's continued fascination with supermen, a new surge of female power could finally electrify the genre and more closely resemble the audiences of comic book adaptations.

That's the apparent takeaway from Marvel Studios' latest release, "Ant-Man." The film concludes with — spoiler alert — Evangeline Lilly's character, Hope Van Dyne, being bestowed with her late mother's prototype superhero suit and alter-ego. When she spots the ensemble, she satisfyingly informs her inventor father, "It's about damn time." It likely is, considering 42 percent of "Ant-Man" ticket buyers on opening weekend were women.

"It was always intentional to end the movie that way with Hope saying she's going to be suited up in future adventures," said Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios. "Over the year since we shot that, it's taken on a greater meaning out there in the fan community. It's more relevant now than it's ever been."

Over the past seven years of interconnected Marvel superhero movies, female characters who are not codenamed Black Widow have mostly been relegated to the sidelines as love interests, sidekicks, damsels in distress or all of the above, making Hope's parting words resonate beyond the screen for viewers who've long been dissatisfied with the lack of female superheroes in movies, despite their decades-long histories in comics.

Scarlett Johansson's shadowy agent Black Widow is no longer the sole Marvel movie heroine following the introduction of Zoe Saldana's alien assassin Gamora in last year's "Guardians of the Galaxy," Elizabeth Olsen's mind-bending Scarlet Witch earlier this year in "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and Lilly's winged Wasp at the end of "Ant-Man."

"Their intentions are in the right place," Lilly said. "They just have to get there. They're breaking new ground. I'm really honored and excited to be part of that, to be one of the pioneering women within the superhero realm, to represent strong women and put more of a female presence into these movies."
Now just a moment here. Didn't the X-Men movies already long feature a couple of lady cast members from back in the comics (Storm, Jean Grey, Rogue, and a few others)? Didn't Pepper Potts put up a fight against some baddies in the second or third Iron Man movie? What kind of a joke do they think they're making? If they obscure certain examples in past film history, then they come off sounding more like victimologists than writers hoping for improvements. It hasn't been such new ground for over a decade.
Andrea Letamendi, a psychologist and comic book expert who recently participated in a talk at San Diego Comic-Con titled, "Building the Modern (Super)Heroine," was disappointed that the filmmakers stopped short of having Lilly's character actually don the Wasp's get-up and help save the day alongside Ant-Man.

"When women don't see ourselves represented in an important role, for instance as a superhero, we begin to question our value in society," said Letamendi. "It's surprising that we're still considering that, but it's very true. The clinical term for it is symbolic annihilation, and it has a damaging effect, especially on younger audiences."

Letamendi commended Marvel for including smart, savvy female characters, such as Thor's astrophysicist girlfriend Jane Foster and Tony Stark's CEO significant other Pepper Potts, in past films, although she said it would be more socially beneficial for viewers to see women serve as actual superheroes or — better yet — lead the charge against all those killer robots and aliens.
But she's leaving out any and all of the films where heroines were featured in the past. Just because they may have been bad doesn't mean they don't count. It just means that the filmmakers have to step up efforts to draft the most entertaining screenplay, and hire the most talented performers and directors to carry the film. Just because these recent productions are from the Marvel film studio rather than Fox or Sony doesn't mean they sum up the history in its entirety. The whole notion there's never been movies with superheroines in the lead is very NOT true, and the following proves it, even if the films were unsuccessful:
Financially, solely focusing on female superheroes has never boosted the bottom line for movie studios. "Supergirl," "Elektra" and "Catwoman" each failed to dazzle audiences or critics, but that was more than a decade ago before the current superhero boom.
Nevertheless, this proves there have been some films starring superheroines in years past. The real argument should be if screenwriters can craft a movie that's worth the price of admission, with an exciting story, actresses who're up to the part, directors who can handle the proceedings, and even good marketing ought to figure in here. The aforementioned 3, along with Barb Wire and the earlier 2 Fantastic Four movies, failed because the scripts were stultifyingly bad. It's not just financial issues which count. Without expert writing, there's no finance to be found.
Since then, the young-adult, female-led adaptations of "The Hunger Games" and "Divergent" series rocketed to the top of the box office, and — as with "Ant-Man" — women accounted for more than 40 percent of the opening weekend crowds for "Age of Ultron" and "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Regardless of the recent boost of womankind in Marvel's superhero movie line-up and among theatergoers, the Disney-owned studio isn't planning to release a film centered on a singular female superhero until 2018's "Captain Marvel." In the comics, the character is portrayed as a female fighter pilot who lands superpowers after a freak extraterrestrial accident.
I honestly think they're making a mistake to go with the current idea of putting Carol Danvers into the role of Captain proper, rather than Miss. Maybe they're doing it this way because they realize switching the original role over to a girl who's of Muslim background could taint proceedings if the audience found out? But all they've been doing besides the recent cater to PC mindsets is obscuring the guy who helped Carol gain those powers in the first place, Mar-Vell of the Kree. Could it be they don't want anybody to know their male Capt. Marvel was originally a metaphor for Soviet defects?
Warner Bros. will actually beat Marvel to punch a year earlier with a "Wonder Woman" film in 2017 starring Gal Gadot. She'll first pop up as the DC Comics character in next year's "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice." The demigod will later join several male superheroes for a two-part "Justice League" film series.

Other than the warrior princess and some female anti-heroes in next year's baddie mash-up "Suicide Squad," the forthcoming cinematic take on DC Comics' super-powered population is expected to be just as dominated by characters with XY chromosomes as the Marvelverse, unless the likes of Batgirl, Black Canary or Hawkgirl swoop in.

The scenario is similar for Fox's "Fantastic Four," out Aug. 7. The reboot features a lone lady: Kate Mara's Invisible Woman. Conversely, the movie studio's mutant-filled "X-Men" franchise has always featured a mix of male and female characters over the past 15 years, and next year's "X-Men: Apocalypse" edition will star the series' most diverse cast yet.

The question of just how female superheroes can fare on their own with modern audiences will be tested later this year, not in theaters but on small screens. CBS' "Supergirl" and Netflix's "Jessica Jones" are set to debut in the fall. If those serialized DC and Marvel adaptations soar on television, perhaps their superhero sisters will on the big screen, as well.
So at the end, they finally mention the X-Men's female cast, but act like it's not the same since it wasn't produced by the Marvel studio. I don't follow their point here. It makes little difference who owns the rights to certain adaptations, it still counts. Again, the real issue should be whether screenwriters have the talent to produce an impressive story spotlighting the superheroines, and come to think of it, the co-stars too. If not, then they shouldn't be surprised if the WW movie tanks at the box office. If they want to avoid the mistakes of the past, then they have to realize the film they plan can't just be eye candy alone.

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If "Elektra," "Catwoman," "Barb Wire," and "Supergirl" had been big box office hits, then there would have been sequels. And there would have been more movies based on superheroines. Maybe adaptations of She-Hulk, Modesty Blaise, Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Spider-Woman.

The only problem Hollywood has is that it is Hollywood.

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