- Londoner confidently taps nation’s science history - Gerald Bull & the Supergun book review.
Dan Brown, London Free Press, September 21
- Museum London Supporter Spotlight
- Quoted in "Why won’t cinema embrace female superheroes?"
BBC Online, September 11, 2013
The BBC article is really good and to prep for it I did a lot of thinking on the subject. Not all of my comments made it into the article of course, and since I have my own forum here, I thought I'd post some further thoughts here.
Obviously super-hero movies have been dominating the big screen for the last number of years in terms of global popularity, box office returns and sheer number of films being released. There are multiple super-hero movies coming out each and every month now it seems - it's astounding.
There are so many now, that a new one is no longer "special" or an "event" though. It's got to be something really special now for me to make the effort to see one in the movie theatre, or even at all now. I even specifically made of a point of steering clear of the new "Man of Steel" movie all together, even though Superman is my favourite comic character because it just seemed so dark, bleak and violent. Completely contrary to what I think the essence of the character is - hope, goodness and light.
Superhero Movies Not so Different From Other Genres
I think that super-hero movies are no different from other genres in terms of depictions of women. How many action, fantasy, sci-fi or even dramatic movies feature women in a leading role? Very, very few I'm afraid. We are lucky if a woman even gets a good supporting role these days, whether the movie is the Avengers or Lincoln. Hollywood seems to continue to believe that the only people who see movies are young men, though looking at the box office, you could paint a different story. Just look at how "The Butler" is doing vs. Kick-Ass 2 right now.
Hollywood likes to point to the failures of "Supergirl", "Elektra" and "Catwoman" as proof that superhero films with a female lead can't be successful. The problem is not that these films had a female or male lead, it's that they were just plain bad movies!They also carefully side-step other huge financial bombs that have done real damage to the studio that produced them like the Lone Ranger, Green Lantern, Jonah Hex and John Carter.
Every time a movie featuring a woman in a lead role does well, it seems to be a complete surprise and is considered an "anomaly", like Bridesmaids, the Help, or just about any movie starring Meryl Streep.With the success of The Hunger Games, Brave, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and even the Resident Evil movies, I think we're at the point that Hollywood can no longer see these successes as strange one-offs. Women and men will see movies with a strong female lead if the script, cast and production are stellar.
Strong Female Superheroes
Strong female superheroe characters do exist from Spider-Woman, Zatanna, Harley Quinn, Black Canary, She-Hulk and the Black Widow (who should have been played by Angelina Jolie not Scarlett Johansson), to name a few.
Mac cosmetics released a "Wonder Woman" line a few years ago that was a roaring success. They had a top comic artist do the artwork (Mike Allred), and Wonder Woman was not sexualized but depicted as a strong female character. Limited edition t-shirts, bags and cosmetics sold out within a week (I was able to nab a tee).
|Wonder Woman by Mike Allred for Mac Cosmetics|
If I were in charge, here is what I would do
- Get Joss Whedon to dig out his Wonder Woman script that he worked on for years that no-one green lit. Then, let him do what he wants. He's earned it and with Buffy he's clearly proven he can write/direct strong female characters.
- Introduce the characters of Oracle and Batwoman to the new Superman/Batman movie. Then give each one their own film to be directed by a independent filmmaker or a foreign film-maker with a smallish budget (say $50 million).
- Oracle movie could be straight up crime drama/CSI style. Very gritty, character-driven with excellent supporting cast that includes detective Renee Montoya. How about Kathryn Biegelow to direct?
- Introduce She-Hulk in the next Avengers movie, then give her her own movie. She is a strong, sexy, funny, smart character.
- To a Black Widow movie with Black Widow as a mature, older character. She is a globetrotter and war-weary spy. She should be played by someone who can be smart, devious, strong. Angelina Jolie. Then give it to JJ. Abrams. Alias was the TV show he cut his teeth on.
- Finally, my daughter who is 8 would like nothing more than to see a female-driven action movie that is kid-friendly. There are none though. The closest we have come is the Powerpuff Girls DVDs from the old TV show. The show is smart, the characters are strong and relatable, the artwork is superb.
We'll just have to read Harry Potter and Percy Jackson while we're waiting, waiting for Hollywood to get their act together.