It’s a discussion that’s only going to get louder and louder: With superheroes so immensely popular, where are all the superheroines? Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman and Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow were the only two featured in last year’s comic book blockbusters, and with both ladies having dubious pasts and not always playing by the rules, at times their “hero” status questionable. So, what gives? Where are all the superhero women?
Last week I shared some controversial comments from Michelle Rodriguez in where she lamented the lack of strong female characters in comics. Most commentators were quickly able to give examples proving her wrong, but when looking only at superhero movies, we all had to admit she had a point. Today, in and interview with The Daily Beast promoting his new film, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, director Joss Whedon – a paradigm creator of strong female characters – has a few comments of his own about the sorry state of female superheroes and film. Here’s the exchange,
Where does your fondness for heroines come from?
I was raised by a hardcore feminist. I was also much smaller than my brothers and bullied a lot, so I identify with the feeling of helplessness.
Why do you think there’s a lack of female superheroes in film?
Toymakers will tell you they won’t sell enough, and movie people will point to the two terrible superheroine movies that were made and say, You see? It can’t be done. It’s stupid, and I’m hoping The Hunger Games will lead to a paradigm shift. It’s frustrating to me that I don’t see anybody developing one of these movies. It actually pisses me off. My daughter watched The Avengers and was like, “My favorite characters were the Black Widow and Maria Hill,” and I thought, Yeah, of course they were. I read a beautiful thing Junot Diaz wrote: “If you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.
Whedon wasn’t the only one hoping for The Hunger Games to mark a shift in the thinking of movie studio execs. That movie banked millions of dollars, and sure, it was helped by an already steady fanbase thanks to the books, but it proved a movie, that wasn’t a rom-com or Oscar-bait drama, with a female protagonist could earn big at the box office. Hopefully the second flick, Catching Fire, can do even better, make even more money, since money is what, unfortunately, drives these decisions.
And, I adore the Diaz quote. People need to begin realizing the demand for more high profile, female superheroes isn’t because we’re tiring of Superman, Batman, or Iron Man, but because everyone likes to see themselves, or an aspect of themselves, reflected in the movies. Admit it, when you watch a Batman flick there’s a part of you that wishes you could be Batman. I wish that! Everyone wishes for that on some level. (Minus the whole dead parents thing.) So wouldn’t it be nice to see a broader spectrum of heroes to choose from.
Near the end of the interview, Whedon gets back around to superheroes, specifically Avengers 2 and Robert Downey Jr’s involvement, where he alleviates our fears by saying, “I have no intention of making Avengers 2 without him.” Whew! That’s good news. As is Whedon’s final comment, “And back to the female-hero thing, I’m not going to let nobody do it. It doesn’t have to be me, but it could be.”
There you have it, Whedon’s going to make it his personal crusade to see things change when it comes to female heroes in superhero movies. All right, maybe I’m giving his comment too much emphasis, but the man’s got the MCU in the palm of his hand. If one guy can make something happen, it’s him. So which ladies would you like to see get their own flick in Marvel’s movie-verse?