While looking over a favourite tumblr blogger of mine, I came across spoilers for the latest season of Arrow, and learned that a prominent female character had been killed off.
It was disappointing to see because this character was also bisexual, and it just seemed to me to be the latest in DC/WB’s efforts to keep their superhero universe as straight as possible.
And as filled with as many men as possible to boot.
Some friends I talked with about this noted my cynical words when talk about other female superhero-lead shows were coming up, such as Agent Peggy Carter on ABC and Supergirl on CBS, but quite frankly, I have little to no faith in the top execs actually putting any effort into these shows.
And sadly enough, history has backed me up on this.
Anyone remember this show? It was the single season of the Birds of Prey that was taken off the air due to bad writing. I think I may have seen an episode or two myself on reruns, but from what I read, the writing really was bad.
Or how about this one? This is from the failed TV pilot of Wonder Woman by David E Kelly starring Adrianne Palicki from 2011 that NBC did NOT pick up because, again, bad writing. For some reason, Wonder Woman was a CEO who went home at night to mope in her apartment that looked like something I would rent working minimum wage, eat ice cream, and cuddle a cat and lament about her life.
Did I mention this was not picked up for a series?
On the movie front, we had Catwoman, with an origin tied into the ancient Egyptian gods and having the titular character fight off against a CEO of a skin cream company. Halle Berry played the lead role, with her nemesis played by Sharon Stone, and it bombed because it was horrible. I don’t even remember if it took place in Gotham City or not, but Catwoman was NOT a burglar with a heart of gold.
It cost 100 million and made only 82.
Halle Berry herself was embarrassed to be in this film and later blamed her agent for why she took on the role.
Yeah, Marvel doesn’t escape this list either, despite the success of their later movies. This movie was a spin off of the garbage Daredevil movie starring Ben Affleck (who is now Batman, which is just weird to think about), and when I watched it, I was bored to tears.
One would think that a super assassin brought back form the dead to kick ass and take names against a bunch of other super assassins wouldn’t be hard to do… but they did it.
That’s what bad writing can do to a movie, even when one has good talent in it.
Now, this is a relatively short list, but what’s infuriating is that I’ve seen these examples used again and again by idiots, both top media execs and fans alike, as to WHY female-superhero lead shows and movies don’t work.
They apparently forgot about THIS lady here:
The first Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter, to have her own show and it ran, quite well, for two seasons.
They also tend to ignore the failures of male-superhero lead movies and TV shows, such as the two Ghost Rider movies, Daredevil, Batman & Robin, Steel, numerous Superman movies, and even the current Agents of SHIELD TV series, despite getting a second season, continues to struggle.
Heck, how many of you remember The Cape?
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
But hey, anything male-lead that doesn’t succeed to wildly wonderful levels, that just happens every now and then. Anything female-lead and superhero has to be super duper awesome and successful, otherwise it proves the garbage assessment that superhero women don’t sell.
It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure that the Boys Club sets up from the start, and not just because it’s a financial risk either, but because of plain old sexism.
Yes, I said the S word.
Now, if Agent Carter and Supergirl succeed, then wonderful! I WANT them to succeed, I really do, but it’s hard to have optimism regarding mass media these days. Heck, we still don’t have a female-lead superhero movie that’s good, and Black Widow should have had her own movie by now. Heck, STORM should have had her own, but she’s been stuck playing second fiddle to Wolverine in all of his movies, which are often named X-Men for some reason since they focus so damned much on Wolverine.
And even if those two series are good and succeed, it’s still two shows with women at the head, and they’re straight, white, cisgender, able-bodied women at that.
This is, of course, not a problem that’s relegated to ONLY the superhero genre, but along different genres and mediums of entertainment as well.
It just feels all the more frustrating that in a genre where people are so strong they could bench press the Titanic, fly around the moon, read people’s minds, phase through walls, change into different animals, have cyborg parts, and be invulnerable that it’s normal for men to do that, but women?
Nah, that’s impossible. ;p