The Problem with Doubting Wonder Woman
By Leigh Wendinger at HalloweenCostumes.com
Batman and Superman have dominated the superhero films for years now, spending nearly $1 billion dollars for their production over the last eight years collectively . The glaring question left in the shadow of their hulking success is why are superhero movies continuing to pop up like weeds while the Wonder Woman film idea shrivels in the darkness?
It goes without saying that Superman and Batman have gained raging popularity, but those films have not always had a solid history of success. Consider Green Lantern, Hulk and Superman Returns – all flops! Why did they get a second chance while Wonder Woman has yet to get her first? Good question.
Since movies like Catwoman and Elektra failed to bring the fan base creators were hoping for, an appalling misconception developed: female superhero movies would never succeed. The myth clearly follows the wake of two of the most lackluster scripts in superhero film history.
This, in turn, has aided in the creation of the proverbial glass ceiling for female superheroes. Now, those who would like a crack at making a dominating female picture are left to face a series of obstacles ahead.
Here’s the scene. Nearly every superhero movie made revolves around males while their female counterparts take a sheepish back seat. Considering society’s need for a strong female character, this theory fails to make much sense, unless of course it is too hard for society to see a woman succeed without a man to guide her. Ludicrous again!
So the question arises, why can’t women be the empowering main characters in movies instead of just a sexualized accessory to a male?
Well, there are a few reasons why Hollywood has been reluctant to create more movies where women take the lead and regrettably, that line of thinking has led to five myths:
- 1. Female superheroes don’t bring in revenue
Toy companies claim they cannot sell as many toys for female superheroes, but Wonder Woman products have the ability to sell to a diverse audience – gender and age included.
- 2. Female superhero movies always bomb at the box office
When the movie fails to break even with the production budget while it is in theatres, it is considered a box office bomb. Of the two ‘legitimate’ female superhero movies made, only one tanked at the box office. But how many male superhero movies bombed? Far more than one and we’ll leave it at that.
The 1997 film Batman and Robin was not a fan favorite, but the prevailing Batman movies, The Dark Night and The Dark Night Rises, have been some of the highest grossing films to date. So why can’t females have another shot? What’s the harm? We clearly know there is only room for improvement since the lukewarm reception of Catwoman!
- 3. There are no actresses who will play them or who are good enough to portray them
Scarlett Johansson definitely holds her own playing Black Widow in Iron Man 2 and The Avengers – clearly it’s all about casting and script.
Bets are the male population would not mind watching Wonder Woman fight crime in her skin tight attire. But again, that’s feeding into the very progression that’s made the glass ceiling bullet proof!
- 4. Women don’t read comics and the men don’t like female superheroes
Both assumptions are ridiculous and false, no need to elaborate there!
- 5. No female superhero is well known enough to attract a fan base
Wonder Woman, duh!
Even though a large fan base would disagree with some of these concepts, we still are left suspicious of Wonder Woman and her success in film. Is it because of her confusing beginning in the comic book world, her character complexity, or one of the many myths that prompted the reluctance of success? That is left for you to ponder.
In the meantime, consider that Wonder Woman has many components to her life and for those who have not followed her in comic book culture, she may appear extremely complex. Followers of her comic introduction know her origins are comprised of an intricate weave intertwining the notions of female strength and obedience to a male – a web not easily untangled.
Although the life of Wonder Woman is complicated, it is not convoluted to the point where followers will fail to understand her character progression. If anything, a great plot will keep viewers on the edge of their seats as the predictable nature of many scripts is circumvented.
Finding Cracks in the Ceiling
Perhaps the true question here is whether the uncertainty is placed in Wonder Woman as a character or the inability to create a script that portrays her in a deserving light? Undoubtedly, it will be hard to find the aspect of her existence that is the most appealing to viewers, especially males. But it has to be done! Indeed, the presence of strong female characters in lead roles may very well depend upon the ability to get Wonder Woman “right”.
Variance from original story lines may also deter comic book fans from watching her in film; simply because that is not the Wonder Woman they know. Ill logic aside; she has to be perfect otherwise the doubts in all the skeptic’s minds will be solidified. In other words, Hollywood only gets one shot to do this right!
Many cynics have questioned the potential success of a Wonder Woman film for years and lack of faith in an original Joss Whedon script didn’t defend her case much either. While Wonder Woman, and other female superheroes for that matter, has been pigeon-holed to lack the ability to create a good film, numerous flaws lie in doubting her capabilities and her popularity.
Wonder Woman is recognized by a large demographic whether it is because of her presence in comic books or because she is a popular cultural icon. Superhero hero movies attract a large following that do not stem from comic books, so why wouldn’t Wonder Woman be able to do the same?
A male superhero story may have an intricate story line, but the characters generally encompass one main detail – they fight crime. The problem with doubting Wonder Woman quite possibly lies in the misconception that a female heroine movie would do the same while lacking the same success.
Female characters are much more diversified and Wonder Woman would have the ability to play on the inherent value of female empowerment. Although Wonder Woman doesn’t represent all women, her idiosyncrasies will help develop the strength of future female characters.
Wonder Woman’s bravery and strength are enviable traits for women as well as men. Not only is Wonder Woman an inspiration to women, she truly is a woman with no fear. She is a strong warrior who encompasses the loving aspect of life, but isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. In the eyes of women, there is not much better than seeing a woman who can stand up for peace, love, justice, and sexual equality.
Obviously, the problem with a Wonder Woman movie is that writers have still failed to come up with a film representation that will do her justice. Conceivably the problem with doubting the potential success of Wonder Woman is that no male superhero movie to date has embraced the entirety of their existence. Many fans enjoy the movies that are highly favored to the action aspects, but Wonder Woman is fighting for more than just peace.
The true concern is whether disbelief in the success of Wonder Woman compromises our societal evolvement.
Times are changing and the world is ready for female heroines to shatter tired 20th century boundaries and make the long overdue gender shift in the superhero movie genre. Despite uncertainties of her ability to succeed in film, Wonder Woman is the perfect character to bridge that gap and extinguish the erroneous hesitations.
 Gray, B. (2013) Box Office Mojo. IMDb.com, Inc. [permalink]