The Sony hack, as problematic as it may have been, really put the spotlight on Hollywood’s backwards insecurities about race, gender, and sexuality when it comes to the types of movies that get produced. Now, due to another round of leaks, Marvel Studios’ lack of confidence in female-led movies has been exposed.
To: "Lynton, Michael"
Subject: Female Movies
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2014 05:32:50 -0400
As we discussed on the phone, below are just a few examples. There are more.
1. Electra (Marvel) – Very bad idea and the end result was very, very bad. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=elektra.htm
2. Catwoman (WB/DC) - Catwoman was one of the most important female character within the Batman franchise. This film was a disaster. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=catwoman.htm
3. Supergirl – (DC) Supergirl was one of the most important female super hero in Superman franchise. This Movie came out in 1984 and did $14 million total domestic with opening weekend of $5.5 million. Again, another disaster.
This disheartening email was from Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter, and was posted on IndieWire. We here at BUST feel like female comic book fans are going to have to carry the weight of every failed female film like Sisyphus rolling up that damn rock. Yes, Elektra, Catwoman, and Supergirl did poorly, but so did Superman IV, Batman and Robin, Green Hornet, Jonah Hex, Blade III, and so on. But let’s see what’s left to analyze of this dead horse.
First of all, Elektra (no c): a spin-off of a sub-par film (Daredevil) that made money but was critically regarded as blah. Not only did Elektra have to carry the baggage of Daredevil, but it also didn’t have any of the previous star power behind it besides Jennifer Garner. No real tie-in to the previous film, poorly written, and just not well put together.
Secondly, Catwoman… except barely. Yes, there was a small tie-in but the movie had zero to do with the Batman franchise. No Batman, it didn’t take place in Gotham City, and the character wasn’t named Selina Kyle. With all that it’s no wonder there was no audience for it. Not to mention the studio failed to cash in on the hype around Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman from Batman Returns. So again, another studio flop.
Finally, sigh, Supergirl. A spin-off of the Superman film series, with no one from the original film series to cameo except Jimmy Olsen, because by the time this film came out Superman III had come out and people were already getting sick of the franchise. It got its budget back, but audiences were done with our boy in blue. So of course the best idea was to put out a Supergirl film one year later. On top of that, it took little advantage of the Superman universe and there were no villains from the franchise in the film.
All of these movies did fail, but their failure was because of the studios putting out bad movies that (1) didn’t carry the spirit of the comics they were based on, (2) were spin-offs of unpopular films, and (3) were just bad films.
Plenty of women have led successful films since 1984: Lucy, The Hunger Games, T2, Alien, Kill Bill, The Tomb Raider Films (yes it did very well), and Charlie’s Angels, just to name a few.
If Batman Begins could be made after the complete and utter mess that was Batman and Robin, then I think it’s time to let go of the ghosts of bad lady films past.
Image c/o TriStar Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros. PicturePrincess Weekes is a part-time bookseller and a full-time writer with a Master’s in English from Brooklyn College. A former intern at BUST magazine, she has since written articles for The Mary Sue, BUST and maintains her own video channel under the name Melina Pendulum, discussing the intersection of pop culture, feminism and race. She is currently working on a fantasy novel about black witches during the Jim Crow era, while attempting to purchase every liquid lipstick the world has to offer.