(This is a longread.)
The list of female-led superhero movies isn’t long. There’s Catwoman and Electra, two mid-2000s’ films that featured attractive ladies (Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner) in tight outfits that left mid-riffs and breasts heavily exposed as they fought bad guys. Then there was Wonder Woman, Birds of Prey, and Captain Marvel, three late-2010s’ movies that sought to portray the female comic book character in a way that was both empowering and entertaining. They mostly failed. And last year’s Wonder Woman 1984 was filled with all sorts of pockmarks that led it to have a dismal 5.4/10 rating on IMDb and a Rotten 59% score.
Yes, female-led comic book movies have had more downs than ups. For some reason, writers haven’t been able to separate the woman from the character, resulting in stories that often felt lazily composed or as if the writers were trying too hard to make a statement.
Of these past six female-led comic book movies, Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel stand tall above the rest but even then those films are among the weaker entries of comic book movies in the last decade.
Wonder Woman had every chance to be a remarkable origin story for the Amazonian warrior and while it has one of the greatest sequences in any comic book film–No Man’s Land–the movie is just a bit mundane.
Gal Gadot knows how to embody that gorgeous Amazonian goddess persona on the big screen and the film’s action sequences are pretty good (they would’ve been better if there was less slow-mo breaking the flow of the fight scenes) but what bugs me is the level of attention on Steve Trevor’s side of the story. He’s such an imposing presence on the movie’s narrative that the film almost should be called Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor.
This is a problem we seem to never have to deal with when male superheroes get their origin stories told. Female characters in those movies are either the doting love interest/damsel in distress or an afterthought to the man’s ascent to superhero awesomeness. But Diana Prince is hampered by Wonder Woman‘s male writers (Zack Snyder, Allen Heinberg, and Jason Fuchs) as they make sure to always have Steve Trevor as her equal in the movie. They even commit to the narrative that Diana discovers her inner power because of Trevor’s death, thus reiterating that narrative that a woman is nothing without a man, a turning point in the story that has grated on my nerves since I saw the film for the first time in theaters four years ago.Continue reading ‘Black Widow’ Is the Greatest Female-Led Superhero Film: Here’s Why