Comics Newsletter

Female Superhero Movies Are Not “In A Rut”

Annika Barranti Klein

Staff Writer

Annika Barranti Klein likes books, obviously.   Twitter: @noirbettie

There have been as many Spider-Man live action movies as there have been female-led superhero movies, including those about female super-villains.

Think about that. Really think about it. Since Supergirl in 1984, there have been so few female-led superhero movies that I have to count villains (Catwoman, Elektra) and comics adaptations not from the Big 2 (Tank Girl, Barb Wire), and still there are just as many movies about Peter fucking Parker. (It’s okay, Spider-fans, there’s a forthcoming cartoon about Miles Morales, which may or may not be getting a wide release—it’s already been pushed back from July to December. A cartoon.)

But because Wonder Woman and the upcoming Captain Marvel movie are both set in the past, adaptations are in a rut.


You can’t identify a trend from two movies, let alone a rut. Are you fucking kidding me? No.

The article does make one good point: that addressing sexism in a modern setting may be too real for studios during the #metoo and #TimesUp movement. Which…please. But okay, let’s take this at its word. So it’s “safer” to set these movies in the past and address sexism. Sure, Diana experienced some (extremely tame) sexism in being shut out of a room of Men Making Decisions, which is absolutely something that happens to women every day right now and showing it in the 1910s is definitely quaint and a good way to avoid dealing with current issues. But it’s ONE MOVIE. And Captain Marvel is set in the 1990s, which were apparently 20+ years ago but LALALA I’M NOT LISTENING. Audiences over 30 will most likely not really consider the setting historical, because we are all in denial. Unless it’s two hours of slap bracelets, brown lipliner, and Friends quotes, I think it will read as fairly modern. (I kiiiind of hope it will include a good helping of military discrimination, since women were not allowed in combat in the ’90s, but I’m not holding my breath. And yeah, the military is still hella sexist, if not in the exact same way.)

I am mad. I am not entirely coherent.

I believe in being critical of things we love. I believe that we should expect movies about non-male/non-white* superheroes to be JUST AS GOOD as the eleventy-million movies about Spider-Man and all the other white men. But that article is nonsense. And the author conveniently forgot that Captain America: the First Avenger was set during World War II.

*Wait until you find out how many black superhero movie adaptations there have been prior to Black Panther. Spoiler: it’s a very small number and three of them are Blade.