Is Hollywood afraid of powerful women? In the age of large strides to lessen the gender equality gap surely the free wheeling Hollywood wouldn’t be afraid of strong females. Well let me answer the question definitively; yes. I do believe that Hollywood is afraid of putting powerful women on the big screen, but I don’t believe it is all Hollywood’s fault. Some of the blame belongs with us, the consumers. Should we demand better, and if so why aren’t we already?
In 1998 a movie called Blade hit theaters and ever since that time comic book movies have become absolute money making powerhouses. Their popularity has risen exponentially and multiple competing movie studios put out 3-4 genre films a year. This is excluding parody and small budget hero films that are produced on a cheaper and faster scale. We have seen obscure characters from Blade to household names like Batman hit the big screen multiple times. However, one character has remained purposefully left off the roster of successful or even failed comic book movie properties. Wonder Woman, a household name to say the least. Having a highly successful run on television between 1975 and 1979 there aren’t many people who don’t know the character. She is considered to be apart of DC Comics “holy trinity,” yet she remains on the shelf.
There is no need to go into the history of the character or her creator. While a very interesting story I want to focus on what the character says about modern day Hollywood and moviegoers alike. Why is a character that is so popular being completely ignored during the most prominent time for comic book movies? I think part of what makes Wonder Woman interesting is more than just her gender. She is timeless, an ass kicking Amazon who can go toe to toe with Superman. She blocks bullets with bracelets, she can fly (without a stupid invisible jet), and she carries a sword around, and a lasso around to choke people out and make them tell the truth. This is the making of a modern day 300! After all that Wonder Woman is still seen by Hollywood as unmarketable. Who the hell wants to go see a movie starring women that would be too bizarre!? Granted there aren’t a lot of female action stars in the past, but that is quickly changing. With actresses the likes of Gina Carano and Lynn Collins the landscape is changing. We don’t have a Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, or Arnold Schwarzenegger female equivalent…yet.
Hollywood shelving of Wonder Woman feels very similar to the treatment of George Lucas’ Red Tails. A story about the famous Tuskegee Airmen, an all black fighter squadron during WW2. There were many statements from Lucas about how Hollywood studios said they couldn’t figure out how to market the film. Really? You couldn’t figure out how to market a jingoistic WW2 movie about a group of guys triumphing over adversity against the goddamn Nazis? Releasing World War 2 movies in America are like shooting fish in a barrel. Next you’re going to tell me that giant robots fighting each other with a piss poor story, dialogue, and acting somehow won’t sell many tickets! Now granted Red Tails was garbage, but the sentiment remains the same. Why when it comes to minority groups (representation, not in population) Hollywood just can’t seem to get it together. I think Wonder Woman, much like the Tuskegee Airmen, transcends gender and race, respectively. They are great characters/people who deserve as much wide audience screen time as a Superman or Saving Private Ryan. If Ryan Reynolds can get Green Lantern made than Wonder Woman should be loping the heads of harpies on screen ASAP.
So the issue with marketing her to a mass audience is clearly a hurdle for Hollywood, but why do they believe this? This is where we, the moviegoer, come in. I think the idea that moviegoers, specifically males, wouldn’t go see an ass kicking female is false, but this idea is sited often. How could young guys relate to a character who doesn’t have a penis like they do? Maybe the same way young women like going to see The Avengers or Batman. If the characters and story are good and it’s marketed properly, people will see it. The problem with getting a good movie done with a female action lead is it becomes an unfortunate self fulfilling prophecy: Hollywood believes no one will see the movie, the movie is then poorly funded, poor funding leads to bad writing, bad writing leads to bad casting/acting, and that of course leads to a bad movie overall. Then we are right back at square one.
So how do we fix it?
In order to kill this issue once and for all you need a stand out character who can break the bonds of stereotypical Hollywood bullshit, you need a Wonder Woman. She is more popular and respected than say a Lara Croft. She is a superhero, which we all know is highly popular these days. She would be a building block for the future Justice League movie. She is powerful, not a damsel in distress character like a Lois Lane. She not only appeals to young guys, but she appeals to one of the largest spending demographics in the U.S. – young women. Much like having a minority Spider-Man that black and Latino kids can directly relate to, Wonder Woman plays the same role for young girls. If you go to any comic convention Wonder Woman is a prominent staple for a hero costume, always has and always will be. Its time to strike while the iron is hot and put a bad ass Wonder Woman movie on the big screen. Lastly, this movie needs to have the same care and seriousness taken with it as Christopher Nolan’s Batman series and seemingly what Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel reboot. In the comics she is Superman and Batman’s equal, why not give her the same treatment on screen.
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