As a life long Marvel fan I would tell you that Marvel has been churning out cinematic worthy stories for years and point to a time when they simply couldn't get it right. Captain America was played by Matt Salinger in 1990... Oh God. Meanwhile D.C were rocking it with Michael Keaton as Batman and Christopher Reeves was a cinematic icon with a letter on his chest; making him the most powerful member of the Seasami Street cast ever!!
Fast forward twenty years and more and The Batman is The Dark Knight and Superman is The Man Of Steel, Ironman is patrolling the skies, Spiderman is on his fifth film with two more to follow, the X-Men are doing roaring trade and Marvel has a genuine movie studio that was bought by power mouse Disney.
And yet where are the female heroes?
Catwoman? Didn't go well, Supergirl... Really?! Aeon Flux? Tank Girl? Ultraviolet? These are not bringing back good memories are they? No. No, they aren't.
What went wrong? How can we still be looking at a female free hero cinema craze?! 'Black Widow', someone shouts, yes she is awesome; so awesome she was given her own franchise? No. Does that mean she isn't awesome? No. It means the attitude to the female hero is confused and terribly, terribly wrong.
It seems the industry believes that Catwoman needs to wear as little as possible and have the highest heels ever? That she should throw her hip out and battle the beaver queen Sharon Stone, because a man is too tough an opponent right?!
Black Widow doesn't wear heels of great note, she doesn't stick the hip out enough, she simply is too competent. Can't have that! No franchise for a very popular actress who could easily run her male buddies down.
I think the basic idea of a female hero must appeal to the execs and so when someone proposes a Wonder Woman film the GUYS in suits say Megan Fox; because Wonder Woman has to be sexy... and who's going to be the love interest? It's a female character so she needs a man to define her right!
What to do about this? Realistically the cinema needs female superheroes that are not propped on huge stilt like heels and are not built to appeal to superficial men who don't want to be threatened by a female hero we could actually get behind (so to speak). New tack... lets get them to appeal to women instead! They can fight, be sensitive, sarcastic, human, tough and everything in between and be women. They can fulfil the same roles as men but be written so that they don't only talk about men, are defined by their relationship with a man or dress to only appeal to men.
Surely there aren't any characters like this in comics?! Right?!
Don't be an idiot! With careful adaptation there are many female LEAD ROLES that are begging to be made. Someone just needs to stop being stupid and make them.
I'll pick four characters that I want to see on the screen. I'll tell you why and I'll even pick a few actresses that could perhaps fit the bill.
CAROL DANVERS: CAPTAIN MARVEL.
Carol Danvers has been part of the Marvel universe for many decades. She has seen many costumes and many power sets but now is the time to strike! A recent upgrade to Captain Marvel and a long stint in the Avengers has seen her stock rise and rise. She could carry a plot for sure!
POWERS: Flight, Super Strength, Resistant to damage, energy powers in different guises.
ATTITUDE: Militaristic and hard arse Danvers doesn't take shit and she has never needed too. She is a serious and strong woman who has a military background and expects things done by the book.
EASE OF ADAPTATION: Incredibly easy! The current costume is a blue jumpsuit, give it texture and purpose and keep the camera off her arse for most of the time and you are there! Lose the sash and keep the boots flat soled and you have someone who has a superhero costume that isn't a slave to fashion!
WHO TO PLAY HER: Who to play her indeed? Right, we need someone who can do all the action, can also stare down the men and can act. We want someone to thrill an audience, and not just because the costumes too fucking tight! How about Katee Sackhoff...
DIANA PRINCE: WONDER WOMAN
Wonder Woman is one of D.C'S 'holy trinity'; the trifector of cool that is Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. She had her own t.v show is on T-shirts that are worn by women all over the world and is a firm fav of the male readers as well.
Wonder Woman is the complete comic book package for the cinema. A character steeped in ancient Greek mythology, powerful, iconic and a property so hot it glows white... and yet D.C still can't get a version on the big screen? Oh God.
POWERS: Super Strength, fighting skills, tough skin, lasso of truth, bullet blocking reflexes.
ATTITUDE: A bastion of truth and justice, Wonder Woman backs the right, not the flag or the powers that be. She is tough, powerful and respected. She makes the tough choices and with her lasso she can find the truth, no matter the situation and act accordingly.
EASE OF ADAPTATION: Stupidly easy. The general public have already accepted a Wonder Woman show in the seventies. Another one was piloted but died recently, why? Because they didn't adapt as needed. She needs to have a more robust costume for the modern era. A recent costume review saw her wearing blue leggings, a red top and blue jacket. Much like in the poster above. Wonder Woman needs some straps for that top so the actress can fight hard (think more Xena; Warrior Princess) and not look like she's about to fall out of her top.
The rest is easy. She was made of clay, she's magic, the public accepted Thor, they have accepted Wonder Woman before, they will do so again.
WHO TO PLAY HER: GINA CARANO FOR THE WIN!!!
BARBARA GORDON: ORACLE.
The daughter of Jim Gordon and the former Batgirl, Barbara was shot by the Joker when her father was kidnapped by him in the Graphic Novel 'The Killing Joke.' She survived but was crippled for life. She found new ways to be a hero!
Using her computer skills she became ORACLE, an information broker who used her computer skills to expose corruption, super villains and helped untold Superheroes to defeat their enemies by the proper application of intelligence and information.
No, this isn't likely to be an action film as much as the others listed here.
ATTITUDE: She has known hardship and pain and feels for the people that surround her. She isn't an unyielding Dark Knight, she makes deals for information, strikes down the greater evil and knows everything she needs to about her enemies. A societal reforming tool far greater than any Superman because she can root out the corrupt officials and find the best people for the big positions.
EASE OF ADAPTATION: You are going to have to fight a lot of fans here. There is no Barbara Gordon in the Dark Knight cannon and so we need to adapt. Barbara Gordon can have a slight name change or be clearly distanced from her old man 'Jim'.
As an ex-military woman who lost her legs in service she knows the importance of logistics and so gathers a group of investigators and fighters around her to impact real change on the streets of Gotham by closing the organised crime that grips the city through the applied use of intelligence. This plays more like a thriller and certainly more like G.C.P.D than 'Birds Of Prey'. There are people to do the 'leg work' so to speak, but the real character her is Oracle. An Internet based hero who will sniff out your secrets.
WHO TO PLAY HER: Okay, I have a thing for Olivia Wilde, but saying that she is genuinely a really good actress, has the presence needed and they could certainly build a franchise around her. I did charge around and have a look for actresses in wheelchairs but it seems there are very few famous ones and so sadly I gave up.
ORORO MONROE: STORM.
Ororo Monroe is a main stay of X-Men and has been since Wolverine joined the team with such classics and fan favourites as Colossus and Nightcrawler. She has also been able to break free from the X-men and appear in many other comics. She was a member of the Fantastic Four when her husband, The Black Panther, took the reigns for a short while.
She is also one of the only black women who have been a constants in the Marvel universe. Monica Rebeau (Captain Marvel) has been a chairwoman of The Avengers, yes, but she certainly hasn't managed to stay as important a character with-in the universe.
POWERS: Weather Control.
ATTITUDE: An African mutant who was worshipped as a goddess in her native country of Kenya, Storm is well aware of the gift of power that was given to her. She is sensible, level and a calming force on many of the X-men. Yes, she has gone off the rails a few times but the overall impression of Storm is one of competence, control and compassion.
EASE OF ADAPTATION: This is funny one. Halle Berry is the current Storm but as much as I think she is excellent I don't think she was brought anything that exceptional to the role. For me you take Storm away from the X-Men, give her the origin treatment like Wolverine got and try to set a powered Marvel story in Africa without instantly making about famine or civil war.
This could be a very important role, a series step for Marvel and the opportunity to bring in The Black Panther as a back up character for her, rather than draping her on HIS arm, and expanding the universe.
Obviously Fox holds the rights for Storm and the other X-Men but they could make some magic here. For sure!
WHO TO PLAY HER: I can see why you would keep Berry but I have another woman in mind. Her name is Kerry Washington and I last saw her in Django Unchained. She blew me away!
I can here you saying things like; 'WHERE'S SHE-HULK?' And, 'What about the Wasp?' Well, off you go, make a list and pick some people to head the films! These are my four. Of course there are plenty of indie characters that could do with a shot at the franchise, Durham Red, Halo Jones, Shi, and you are right! They could hold a film too!
The sad truth is that the industry doesn't think a Woman can attract the same bums on seats as a man. NEWSFLASH! People didn't believe Tony Stark would be able to, but he has, and it's more than Downey Jnr, it starts in the development stage when the powers that be gather and talk about The Dark Knight and I'm pretty sure their first concern is not 'how much flesh can we show?' Or 'Who is their love interest?' Instead they ask how to make him cool, tough, capable and successful.
We should be asking them to ask these questions about the female heroes. Do that and follow through with an attitude of wanting to make the best product possible and you have Billions of fans that will put their hands in their pockets.
Black Widow needs a franchise, but she isn't the only one.
Thanks for reading.