The movie-going audience has spoken. Movies with female protagonists are becoming more popular in this day and age. With recent financial successes, such as Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy’s The Heat, turning studios’ heads, its time to take the plunge and start giving more superheroines a time to shine. While female comic book protagonists starring in their own movies is hardly new (see Catwoman, Elektra, Supergirl), there’s a wealth of heroines still out there that can hold up a movie just as well as their male counterparts.
Hit the jump for Collider’s best options for female driven comic book films that will get people in the seats.
The foundation has already been set for this one. Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanov has appeared in two Marvel Studios’ films: Iron Man 2 and The Avengers respectively, with another appearance on the way early next year, 2014, in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The Black Widow is a character with a long and interesting history, having appeared in the comic books around the same time as Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor decades ago, that deserves to have her own vehicle that could go into more detail about her origins.
While Black Widow doesn’t have any super powers of her own, it would make for an interesting story to see this espionage extraordinaire do some wet work while the flashier super heroes such as Tony Stark and Steve Rogers were getting the limelight. Natasha Romanov is the James Bond of the Marvel Universe: strong, calm, and collected. The former KGB spy-turned-superheroine could support a film which showed the underbelly of the bright and shiny world that is the Marvel Movieverse. Fighting through the streets of Madripoor or over the skyline of Russia, the Black Widow movie could be a Marvel Studios film that had an overall darker tone, set in a more realistic environment with a hint of the extraordinary around every corner.
Colonel Carol Danvers is considered Marvel’s premiere superheroine at the moment. With powers such as flight, super strength, super speed, invulnerability, and the ability to fire energy blasts from her hands, Captain Marvel is waiting to be taken to the big screen. Marvel has been pushing Carol more and more as of late, even going so far as to make her a leader of The Avengers under creator Jonathan Hickman’s pen, and with good reason. Carol could be given her own movie after appearing in a Marvel Studios film to lay down the building blocks for her solo feature.
Captain Marvel’s origins lie in the stars of the Marvel Universe, as she was the result of an alien experiment gone awry during her time with the US Air Force. She offers a militaristic, yet uplifting approach to super heroics, and bounces off the other members of the Avengers naturally, which would translate fantastically to the big screen. It also helps that she has one of the coolest costumes in comics today. Recently, its been confirmed that Marvel Studios has been in talks with Katee Sackhoff, of Riddick and Battlestar Galactica fame, regarding her upcoming schedule. Considering Ms. Sackhoff’s strong resemblance to Carol, a lot of fans are really pulling for Katee to bring this character to life.
Not as popular as the other heroines on the list, but just as worthy of her own film, Kate Spencer lives in the world of Batman, Superman, and the rest of the Justice League, working on her own to bring criminals to justice. A court prosecutor by day, and Manhunter by night, Kate’s powers come from assembling a hodgepodge of equipment from other super-powered heroes and villains. This angle would be great in establishing a cohesive world and continuity which the DC Movie Universe desperately needs, perhaps by including an old utility belt of Batman’s into her repertoire.
Kate’s strength was not only in her suit, but in her stories. Writer Marc Andreyko created a character who was very compelling, with story arcs and supporting cast that gave her a place in many fans’ thoughts in the mid to late 2000’s. A selling point of Manhunter was a combination of the judicial system and super heroics, and how the character was able to use both of these to her advantage. In one storyline, Kate would upgrade and fix her weapons by blackmailing a former villain who was in the Witness Protection Program using her connections from her day job. Manhunter as a movie would help paint a picture of the differences between what it means to be a vigilante and what it means to be a part of the system.
Who says we need heroes to always be our protagonists? Mystique was one of the breakout characters in the popular X-Men franchise and remains one of the most visually striking. With the upcoming X-flick, X-Men: Days of the Future Past, on the horizon, it’s time for Fox to start riding on the coattails of the franchise’s popularity and create more spin offs. The X-Men universe is just as rich and detailed as its Avengers counterparts and with the rising star of Jennifer Lawrence taking the wheel, Mystique could be a runaway hit in the same vein as The Hunger Games or its mutant predecessors.
So how do you sell a movie about a mutant terrorist to the public? Well, you make her relatable, which the character of Raven Darkholme was in the prequel, X-Men: First Class. The movie could follow Raven’s early years, being a part of Magneto’s brotherhood OR you could do the exact opposite! Former Lost writer, and current writer of the wildly successful graphic novel Saga, Brian K. Vaughn wrote a Mystique series for Marvel comics, following the anti-hero through espionage missions, using her shape-changing ability in innovative ways. Regardless of the story, Mystique is a character who is instantly recognizable and portrayed by an Academy Award-winner with more than one successful franchise under her belt. Its not hard to see that this could be a money-maker for Fox, and another worthwhile installment to the X-Men franchise.
This one goes without saying. In the same way as Superman is the most recognizable character in comics, Wonder Woman is the most recognizable woman. Wonder Woman has been in the media before, with the successful television series decades ago and even recently an animated feature under her belt, it’s time for Warner Brothers to pull the trigger on this character and give her a feature of her own. There have been numerous attempts at this in the past, one of the most notable being a solo feature headed by The Avengers director Joss Whedon that fell through. However, we’ve reached a time where this movie would not only hold its own, it would thrive among the superhero community of films.
Diana of Themyscera is born to an island of Amazonians and brought to “Man’s World” in order to help spread peace. Her background, however, is one steeped in war as she was taught to be a fierce warrior growing up with origins stemming to many Greek mythologies. It’s really a story of conflicts that would best bring this character to life. What’s the best way to bring peace to the world? Is it by punching out a giant Cyclops that has just emerged from the depths or by becoming an ambassador to the people and helping those who can’t help themselves, with less violent means? I think setting up the character as one who is struggling with her new environment, as well as her own nature, is the best method. With Batman’s adventures grim-and-gritty and Superman’s earth-shattering, maybe it’s time for more of an introspective movie that comments on our world today which could act as a springboard for her membership into WB’s eventual Justice League.
It is long past time for female protagonists to step out of the rafters and stand shoulder to shoulder with the other male heroes hogging the spotlight. The evidence is there with more female-driven movies taking more market share of box office revenue, and with the ever-growing audience of comic book movie enthusiasts, what better time than now? I’ll continue crossing my fingers that someday we’ll get a Squirrel Girl feature, but hey, baby steps.