With the release of this month’s Superman movie, the action movie industry adds another film to its androcentric repertoire. The few years have seen the release of films such as The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spiderman, Green Lantern, Thor, Captain America, The Avengers, and Iron Man. Don’t get me wrong: many of those were great superhero flicks, but the two major female heroes in those movies were both minor, oversexed figures in skintight suits.
Many of those male superheroes are notable, but so is Wonder Woman. A strong and feminine Amazonian warrior princess, Wonder Woman is a classic hero that has been purposefully neglected in the live action movie adaptations. Why? What is the difference between her and the other characters? The most obvious answer is that she is a woman. Many production studios shy away from female-oriented films that aren’t blatant chick-flicks because they don’t think that they will do as well in the box office. Yet films like Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Hunger Games, which both have strong female leads and shy away from typical narratives, portray the women as active characters and both films were successful. Though the film industry isn’t as strong as it once was, if they are running out of ideas to the point where they are making films based on board games, you would think they might consider a well-known, awesome female superhero as the subject of a movie.
Other typical answers are her lack of notable villains or a well-known story. These points may be true, but they didn’t stop other films with the same problems from being made. Captain America: The First Avenger faces Nazis, the same enemy that Wonder Woman started out battling. Even the first Christopher Nolan film had Batman face Scarecrow, one of the lesser-known villains in the Batman saga. Also, how many people who see superhero films have read all of the comics and know the backstories? Not all of them, that's for sure. Though Wonder Woman’s story may not be widely known, she's still one of the most recognizable figures to comic fans and novices alike.
A petition is circulating on the Internet to gain support for a Wonder Woman film. The goal is to raise support and show the industry that there is a demand for stronger female characters and, specifically, Wonder Woman. The sponsor of the petition, Jacquelyn Zehner, hopes the film will be created and show Wonder Woman as "a distinctly feminist role model whose mission was to bring the Amazon ideals of love, peace, and sexual equality to a 'world torn by the hatred of men.'" Sounds good to us!
Zehner also published a report on the history of Wonder Woman and the factors that lead to the invisibility of her character when it comes to producing superhero films. She hopes this report will garner support for the petition and inform readers of the trivial factors that keep the movie from being produced.
If the film was done right, this could be monumental. One of the first major blockbuster superhero films based around a woman could lead to so many more movies with strong female characters and other female superhero flicks. It's a dangerous line though: the Wonder Woman costume is tight and sexy, so there would need to be a good balance that allows her to use her sexuality without exploiting it. Wonder Woman is a kickass role model, and the inequality of films produced with strong female characters to male characters is depressing. Women today are demanding more complex female characters and younger girls are searching for a variety of role models. Hopefully a Wonder Woman film can get made and show the industry that both men and women want different types of superheroes and different portrayals of women in movies and the media.
What would you want to see out of a Wonder Woman film? Who could you see playing the Amazon princess?