What’s the deal with women superheroes on screen?

Jessica Alba getting makeup placed on her face...

Image via Wikipedia

If you’re a regular viewer of superhero movies, you probably would have noticed how poorly female superheroes are treated on screen. Some of the most loved female heroes have either been bumped to minor roles in comic book movies, or in worst cases headlined some of the worst movies over the past two decades.

Given the current crop of superhero movies, you would expect to see at least some films devoted to women superheroes. No such luck. If anything Hollywood seems to be deliberately avoiding making films based on female heroes. Take for instance Wonder Woman. One of the most beloved female DC characters of all time was caught in movie development hell for a long time. Even when DC had appeared to get the ball rolling for a Wonder Woman TV series, the show was cancelled after it’s pilot episode.

1) The X-Men franchise:

The X-Men have some of the most famous female superheroes. Yet we’ve barely seen anything from them on screen. Mutant goddess Storm was reduced to spending the entire two movies behind the controls of the X- Jet.  Bryan Singer spent the entire second X-Men movie building up Jean Grey‘s split persona as the destructive Phoenix, for Brett Ratner to keep the character in silence for the whole of The Last Stand. It seems Fox are afraid to unleash the full potential of their female mutants, even if the mutant’s power is an essential story device.

2) Fantastic 4:

Yet, another one of Fox’s disaster movies. The Fantastic 4 members were terribly cast. With the exception of Chris Evans as The Human Torch, Loan Gruffudd, Michael Chiklis and Jessica Alba should stay clear of superhero films in the future. Perhaps the worst in the bunch was Alba as the Invisible Woman. Were the guys behind Fantastic 4 unsure of Alba’s looks? As she was constantly changing contact lenses and hair colour in attempt to look more Barbie as the film progressed. Perhaps they should have focused less on making Alba undress in every F4 movie, and more so on character development.

3) Elektra and Catwoman:

Two of the most beloved female superheroes from Marvel and DC have had the misfortune of starring in perhaps two of the worst comic book movies to date. Despite impressing in Daredevil, Jennifer Garner was forced to endure a 2005 spinoff movie, with ridiculous plot lines and terrible acting. I though Garner was one of the only few highlights in Daredevil, showing that female heroes can have substance, yet all that was in pushed aside in Elektra, as Garner just became a device for action sequences.

Catwoman is a different beast all together. Halle Berry is awkwardly cast (and no it has nothing to do with her race) as she is stripped of any essence of the beloved DC character. This is not the Selina Kyle from the comics. No, Berry’s Catwoman lacks any presence or motivation, and it’s hard to believe why she takes up the mantle 0f Catwoman if it’s just to get revenge on a few who wronged her. Did I mention the movie is ridiculed by terrible dialogue and CGI?  I just hope Anne Hathaway restores Selina Kyle to cinematic glory and she isn’t just in The Dark Knight Rises movie as someone for Bruce to bed.

I only have such a gripe with how women superheroes are portrayed on screen because it reflects how Hollywood is still living in the dark ages. There are tons of female characters from the comics that deserve movies. I’m sure audiences would have preferred a Wonder Woman or Black Canary movie far more than the recent DC flop Jonah Hex. If Marvel and DC continue to portrayal female heroes this bad, then I expect future movies such as Scarlett Johansson‘s Black Widow to be box office flops.

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