Female Superhero Films Take Flight

Ms. Elena Crites

Over the past decade, big screen adaptations of favorite comic book characters have dominated the theaters. The rising popularity of superhero films has left many viewers entertained and many production companies with pockets full of cash. Hollywood has become more and more invested in various superhero franchises such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe whose first movie, Iron Man, came out in 2008. So why was it that Wonder Woman, the first successful superhero movie featuring a woman hero, came out just last year?

Other than 2017’s Wonder Woman, it seems that every film made by industry leaders Marvel and DC Comics that have featured a female hero, such as Catwoman (2004), Elektra (2005), or even Supergirl (1984) were underwhelming. Not only did they tank in the box office with totals of $82.1 million, $56.7 million, and $15.3 million respectively, but they also received terrible reviews with scores of 9%, 10%, and 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. “…My belief was always that they didn’t work, not because they were female-led stories,” said Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige in an interview with Entertainment Weekly for the upcoming film Captain Marvel, “They didn’t work because they were not particularly good movies.”

Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, was a turning point for (super) powerful women in film. With a whopping Rotten Tomatoes score of 93% and a box-office total of $821.8 million, Wonder Woman hit the industry by surprise and left many fans excited to see more from the character. According to CVU senior and frequent movie-goer Meghan Gilwee, “The first time [I saw Wonder Woman in theaters], I was like, ‘Wow! I want to be her!’” Gilwee says she went to see the film three times during its run in theaters. “Wonder Woman was portrayed well; she was a great symbol of strength.”

The rise in superhero film popularity has led to a record-setting eleven new hero flicks to be released in 2019, according to Screen Rant. Of these eleven, two are solo movies featuring women heroes: Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman 1984. This sets a new record. X-Men: Dark Phoenix will also center around Jean Grey, a female mutant, along with a slew of other heroes. Along with these movies, actress Scarlett Johansson who plays the hero Black Widow in many of Marvel’s movies has signed on for a standalone film.

“Hopefully, due to these movies, [society] will begin to view women as equally as powerful as men.” says Gilwee. According to CVU Senior Sophie Roy, “I think and hope this trend will continue. I think all persons should be represented in the film industry.”

This trend doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. According to Entertainment Weekly,  “Feige says that Marvel plans to announce other women-led movies in the near future, that he’s looking forward to the day when they’re not a novelty or a first, but a norm.”