Ben Affleck Gets Second Chance at Superhero Role but Still, Female Superheroes Get the Shaft
Dear Hollywood: Congratulations on casting Ben Affleck as your sixth Batman! Giving him a second chance as a hero after the disaster that was Daredevil ... how very kind of you. I guess that's what happens when you direct an Oscar-winning movie where film producers save the day. I'm sure audiences will be thrilled to see this latest Batman share a screen with the fourth Superman, as thrilled as Lois Lane is when she watches all of the action from the sidelines or wherever she is being held hostage by the current villain.
Before we talk more about this exciting film, I just had a question: When can I plan on seeing a female superhero? Before you answer, I don't want to hear about X-Men: Days of Future Past or The Avengers: Age of Ultron. I know each of those superhero teams has women — I'm talking about a whole movie where the main superhero is a woman. Right now, you're likely sputtering about 2005's Elektra or 2004's Catwoman, maybe even all the way back to 1984's Supergirl. Great. Let's talk about them.
Elektra was a sequel to Daredevil, a movie that yes, made some money, but was panned by critics and audiences. Please explain to me how you expected its sequel, starring Jennifer Garner, to succeed. By the way, financially, it did. Not by much, but it earned more than its budget. Supergirl was in a similar position, as a spinoff to the unpopular, disappointing Superman III.
So, Catwoman. No, leather-clad Halle Berry didn't turn a profit, but here's something to consider: it was an awful movie. People don't like to watch movies they hear awful things about before they're even released. Guess what other superhero film didn't make any money? Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, the last film to feature Christopher Reeves as Clark Kent, thanks again to the lackluster Superman III.
But did you guys give up on the man of steel? No, you brought him back in 2006 with Superman Returns and gave him a chance. You never gave up on Batman either, even when 1997's Batman & Robin turned him into a laughingstock. Instead, you just gave him a few years off until 2005 when bam! Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins marks the start of a lucrative trilogy that brings us to where we are today: superhero mania. Well, male superhero mania.
I know you were disappointed in Elektra and Catwoman, but don't they deserve another chance? Even if they as characters don't, why must they ruin the chances of all other female superheroes? Maybe Halle Berry is to Catwoman what George Clooney was to Batman: a popular celebrity, but not the right one to don the costume. Anne Hathaway's Catwoman helped The Dark Knight Rises pull in over $1 billion and become one of the highest-grossing films of all time.
And what about Wonder Woman? She's had one TV show and never a movie. Or Black Widow? She was one of the best characters in wildly successful The Avengers and Iron Man 2, and will appear in the upcoming Avengers and Captain America sequels. Could she not pull off a standalone film? It just blows my mind that you have more faith in the strange, new alien creatures of Guardians of the Galaxy than a character already proven popular and marketable.
If you're willing to gamble on a whole new franchise, one that's never even had an adaptation before, you should give a female hero a shot at one. Between Marvel and DC Comics characters, that are too many female heroes to count, but the short list includes Ms. Marvel, Huntress, and Starlight, as well as female-versions of most popular male characters, and the many X-Women.
Does not a single one of these catch your interest? Starlight is a freaking neurosurgeon with super-strength who can create nuclear energy. I'd watch the shit out of that movie. Maybe that's what you're worried about, that there won't be enough of an audience? Then you'd be dumb and/or ignorant, because plenty of women go to the movies. Remember when The Avengers had the biggest opening weekend of all time? 40 percent of those tickets were purchased by women, roughly $82 million worth.
And let's not forget about the men, though I doubt you could. I'm pretty sure they would show up to watch a hot girl kick ass for two hours (because obviously, any female superhero will end up completely over-sexualized on screen, but that's an argument for another day).
I guess what I'm trying to say, Hollywood, is that it's time you give some women a chance. Superheroes have been earning you obscene amounts of money for the past few years, and I think superheroines can do the same. Don't let two shitty movies ban all female heroes from theaters forever. You forgave Ben Affleck enough to make him your next Batman, so forgive his wife and Berry, then move on. Give the script with a female hero at its center, not in the peripheral, a second read-through and think about all of the talented actresses working today. Let one of them start a franchise that isn't based on a YA novel, but a comic book. You won't regret it.
[Images via: 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Walt Disney Studios, Marvel Comics]