A recent post on The Grio about black superheros and their absence or underfunding in the Hollywood Blockbuster cycle prompted me to point out that not only does Hollywood fail to produce summer blockbusters with black female super hero leads, but the Grio list largely left women out as well. As a result, I sent out links to two of my older posts about female superheroes who might make great Summer Blockbusters on my twitter account. A day or so later, SciFi Wire featured a post about female “superheroes” they would like to see in film; the bulk of these women were white and many of them were actually anti-heroes or villains. Since I don’t have a SciFi Wire account in order to comment on their pages, I found myself chanting “But Some of Us are Brave”. Brave enough to write and then re-post my summer query about why women are relegated to RomComs in the summer when a bevy of female superheros await expense trilogy success. More than that, why are the only women Blockbuster loving audience see seldom full-fledged characters or sexualized, including electronically enhanced (ie they make everything bigger in post-production, pad the outfits, or the actresses cast have strategic enhancements already that are accentuated by the suits they wears)? And why are the most fleshed out of these ones whose story lines fulfill expected roles: wife, girlfriend, or love interest.
Hollywood would like to believe that if they put a few emasculating phrases in these scantily clad side characters mouths we won’t notice their irrelevance to the main plot or that their dimensions rival Barbie. They peddle in soft-core pseudo-feminism that many young audience have come to think of as empowering precisely because they are not given alternative visions of strong women nor taught about them in schools thanks to the Texas School Board. But honestly, if your biggest aspiration is to be the center of attention because of the size of your breasts or butt padding and your occasional snark at leading men, you are selling yourself so short it is a wonder we can even see you so far away from the feminist finish line. So here are some women who had brains, strength, beauty and took center stage, and yes, in some cases they also did it in very revealing clothing but that is because most of the artists drawing them were not women.
Repost of “Hey Hollywood How About Some Women for the Summer?” May 16, 2009
The never ending discussion about the role of women in graphic novels and the depiction of women in adapted comics and novels for the summer blockbuster has begun. Rather than fight the good fight this summer, in which I remind people that ideas about women and the depiction of female characters can in fact be updated from the original without violating the basic plot I am just going to point to the myriad of female superheroes in classic comic books that could be staring in movies this summer. In fact, a quick view of the films scheduled to be released this year has only one offering in which women have (as I recall) been seen as equal to their male counterparts: GI Joe. While Uhura in the new Star Trek is actually smarter than many of her male counterparts, she is completely undermined as I discuss in my Star Trek review, so she does not count. And the Director of Transformers II finally saw his way around putting women in, but the graphics show no update of the character; she is still an anorexic looking, neon pink thing, updated only slightly so she has actual headlights for breasts!!! I haven’t seen anything that sad since Tranzor Z’s Missile “Boobs”.
While I’d like to see the women below in more clothes, sans bum shots, if sent to the big screen, don’t tell me we don’t have options. This is what happens when Hollywood favors white heterosexual male producers, studio heads, and directors over the same diversity in Hollywood that we have in the country as a whole. All of these female characters, many of them poc and some differently-abled, fall out. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with having white, male, heterosexual directors (paging Bryan Singer) but I do think there is something wrong when year after year the plethora of big budget summer offerings can only offer me various plays on the same heteropatriarchal driven fantasy. (Not to mention racial narratives that perpetually imagine fantastical worlds without poc in them or poc who are so stereotypical they make me long for lines like “I ain’t birthin’ no babies”.)
the song in the background:
Isis, one of the first all-female rock bands signed in 1964 & homage to Mighty Isis
- Elektra Woman
- Dyna Girl
- Bionic Woman (the real one)
- Wonder Woman
- Wonder Girl
- Princess Leia
- Misty Knight
- The Huntress (Batman and Catwoman’s kid in an alternate universe, now there’s a blockbuster for you)
- Miss Marvel
- Red Sonja
- Mighty Isis
- Leiko Wu
- Vampirella (whose swimsuit I swear I saw at the shop last week while looking for my own)
- Friday Foster (played in the film version by Pam Grier)
- Mary Marvel
- Deadly Nightshade
- The Black Canary
- Cat Woman
- Rose and Thorn
- Big Barda
Other women, who might be great for blockbuster films are included in my other post on female super heroes/tv characters (which includes some Latinas from Latin American graphic novels sense the depiction of both Latinas and Asian American women is so poor here in the states).
Or how about a golden age come back like these women from the 1940s? Using 40s comics would open several genres that are popular right now like: Mysteries, Psychological Thrillers, Gangster Movies, etc. all with super heroes (see my explanation of this new combination in my Wolverine post)
Featured heroes & villans:
- the domino lad
- Red Tornado
- Woman in Red (a detective who put hard boiled male detectives to shame)
- Lady Luck
- Miss Fury
- Phantom Lady (not the anime ok)
- Teen Wilcat
- The Spider Queen
- Silver Scorpion
- Bullet Girl
- Hawk Girl
- Lady Fairplay
- Invisible Scarlet O’Neal
- Miss America
- Pat Patriot
- Black Venus
- International Girl Commandos
- Hellcat/Patsy Walker
- Miss Masque
- Moon Girl
- Miss Masque
- Luna Moth (who one of my friends is named after)
What about gay representation? Wiccan and Hulking from the Young Avengers perhaps?
I suppose this might be a bit much?
But I did really want to see what “Juice Pig” looks like in part 2. And in QAF land, they did make it into a major motion picture at the end.
It seems that Showtime will be offering its own animated regular series starring “the world’s first gay superhero” hopefully in the Fall. It is set to be penned by Stan Lee and based on a novel about a gay superhero entitled simply: Hero. If the small screen can do it, so can the big screen.
- Echo (Native American/also once thought to be differently-abled)
- Moondragon (bisexual)
- Jubilee (Asian-American, X-Men)
- Misty Knight (differently-abled)
- Nightengale (Haitian)
- Dust (Afghani, Muslim, woman X-Men)
- Ranma 1/2 (Asian, transgendered)
- Dark Angel (Latina)
- Sudra Jones (African American, drawn and written by Af-Ams)
- Joto (black, and so totally gay even if he is too young to know)
- Chandi Gupta (S. Asian)
- Mantis (Vietnamese)
- Batwoman (lesbian)
- Araña (Latina)
- Oracle (differently-abled)?
- The Black furies (environmental feminist werewolves; af-am)
- Ghost (most popular female character at Dark Horse. ie $$$)
- Random 5 (african american written by african americans)
- The Menagerie II (Latina)
- Arachne (a single mother)
- Silver Hawk (Asian; Michelle Yeoh rocked this part in low budge, let’s see it with big American studio backing)
- the silencer (african american)
- Darna (Asian)
- Photon (African American)
- Cecilia Reyes (Afra-Latina X Men)
- Karita (Afra-Latina)
- Farscape women (various non-white aliens, including older woman)
- Swift (Asian, bi-sexual)
- Pathway (African American, autistic)
- Dawnstar (Native American)
- Heather Hudson (African American)
- Willow (lesbian)
- Sashiko (Asian American)
- Hack/Slash (Lesbians, questioning, and taking back the night)
- Sister Superior (differently-abled)
- Starlight (African American)
- Firebird (Latina)
- Rina Patel (S. Asian)
- Jonni Thunder (Genderqueer)
- Vixen (African)
Obviously, some of these characters would need to be updated but the bottom line is that there are a number of strong women and poc that could be featured in the Summer Blockbuster cycle. Very few of them have been considered and still fewer have been centered. Several of the women on these lists actual appear in graphic novels about male heroes or in confederations containing male heroes, many of whom have already had multiple turns at the summer cinema. Despite this fact, most of these women are still absent. When they do appear, they are drained of much of their intellectual or physical powers, turned white when they were written as woc or bi-racial, or turned straight when they were originally bi-sexual or violently killed when lesbian. While many graphic novels and comic books are riddled with misogyny, that is not an excuse to either omit women or fail to update them for modern audiences. Many of the women in this list would likely only need updated clothes and dialogue and very little else. Some of the more modern characters have already been written as feminist and most tackled issues regarding the oppression of women at one point or another. While still others, like Anesta Robins are hardboiled sci fi detectives that would appeal anyone who liked Blade Runner. As I’ve said before, Bryan Singer proved this when he did the X Men and Stan Lee has repeatedly said he wants to do better by women, people of color, and differently-abled characters.
While there are many male viewers and directors who like things just the way they are – men as super human and women as half-naked objects all tied together in a heterosexist bow – the reality is that women and men with a clue are alive and movie going in the summer months too. We don’t all want to watch quirky chick flicks (which do very little for the racial or ability integration of films either) or spend our parenting hours re-directing intentionally misdirected youth. We don’t want to fight with our significant others, less clear friends, and blog trolls about why black face, the absence of visible Latinos, the demonizing of the queer community, and women in spandex undies and stilletos is just not ok. I certainly do not enjoy being called “un-american” on wikipedia.
If basic decency cannot influence Hollywood, then let’s talk $$$. Sex and the City, which also had its woman hating moments and saw the return of mammy, was female led and female centered. It was one of the major box office hits of the summer. And while part of its appeal was a successful tv run first, there were many shows with female superheroes and people of color who can say the same. If the attention the fictional comic book Rage got on QAF is any indication, the same could be said for gay superheroes if they’d actually be given a chance. And the re-release of Bat Woman, a lesbian, garnered so much buzz people were looking to buy copies before it even went to print. And seriously, do we really want to condone a film genre that seems to echo the wrongheaded warning of The Seduction of the Innocent?
Who would you like to see next summer? (PS. No, I am not looking forward to Beyonce as Wonder Woman or Rose McGowen as Barbarella, but I do want to see both of those characters return to the screen.)
- Transformers I, movie still. unattributed
- Pink Transformer. unattributed
- Mighty Isis. Steve Rude
- Leiko Wu/Phantom Sand. unattributed
- Luna Moth. unattributed
- Phantom Lady. unattributed.
- Dust. unattributed
- Moon Dragon. Rubinstein
- Cecilia Reyes. unattributed
- Pathway. unattributed
- Michelle Yeoh as Silver Hawk. unattributed.
- Hack/Slash. unattributed
- Echo. unattributed
- Starlight. Milestone Comics part of DC Universe.
- Arana. unattributed
- Kathy Kane aka “Bat Woman.” unattributed
interested in more amazing images: see SwanShadow Blog
Imagine what summer would look like if instead of waiting for jingoistic, self-absorbed, womanizing Tony Stark to play penis, penis, whose got the penis, with some aging roid rager in a metal suit, you could watch an updated version of any of these women.