Where are all the superheroines?

Wonder Woman has never starred in a movie. Via Flickr user jooleeah_stahkey.

Wonder Woman has never starred in a movie. Via Flickr user jooleeah_stahkey.

America loves men in tights.

Well, we love them as long as they’re fighting crime.

Everyone enjoys a good superhero, and many have been brought to the cinema. Superman, Batman, Captain America, the Hulk, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Thor have all appeared in their own movies on the big screen — many times, more than once.

But we’re still waiting for a movie about a superheroine.

Lady superheros, though they often wear tights, often get the short end of the stick when it comes to movies. In fact, as I type this, I see that “superheroine” doesn’t even register as a word in spell check.

For shame.

I scoured the internet, and I found three movies starring superheroines.

  1. In 1984, there was Supergirl, which you’ve probably never heard of, and for good reason — it only has an 8 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The review says it all: “Supergirl’s wide-eyed, cheery heroine simply isn’t interesting to watch for an hour and a half.”
  2. In 2004, we have Catwoman. I’m being generous by calling her a superheroine because she is really more of an anti-hero. The movie is a 1.5-hour excuse to dress Halle Berry in tight clothes. They lost the plot along the way.
  3. In 2005, there was Elektra, who also isn’t really a superheroine. It fared slightly better than Supergirl on Rotten Tomatoes with a 10 percent rating. The website calls it an “inert muddle.” Eww.

I counted three superheroines with their own movies. If we’re going by the strict definition of “superheroine,” there has only been a single one with her own movie. Meanwhile, in 2013 alone, there have been four superhero movies, with a fifth (a Thor sequel) due in November.

There have been more superhero movies released this year than all superheroine movies for all of cinematic history. And the three movies released were terrible.

Don’t tell me that no one wants to see a superheroine movie. The concept has proven successful on TV with shows such as Xena: Warrior Princess and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (If Catwoman can be a superheroine, so can Buffy.) A fan-made trailer released recently shows that a Wonder Woman movie would be spectacular and popular. (Watch this trailer and tell me you wouldn’t want to see that movie as much as the next Superman one.)

No matter how much we like to deny it, culture helps shape how we perceive the world. Superhero movies are action-packed, fun, and give people a fictional role model. These are powerful people (or beings) who can fend for themselves. The lack of superheroine movies sends a message: Women and power don’t mix.

Most women with their own movies are portrayed as feminine and somewhat delicate. They’re usually pining over a man.

Meanwhile, if you want to see a superheroine movie — a film about a woman who beats bad guys and who girls can dress up as on Halloween — you’re out of luck. Try watching Catwoman again.

I enjoyed Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow in The Avengers. But we need superheroines who have movies of their own, and who don’t play as secondary characters to the male leads. We need to stop listening to flimsy excuses (“Who would watch a female superhero movie?”, “It can’t be done well,” etc.).

We need to fight for more women who can fight.


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