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10 Female Superhero Movies That Hollywood Needs to Greenlight Now

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by Jeremy Staley and Helen Lee
April 7, 2014 11:54 AM
18 Comments
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So Captain America has opened to almost $100 million and the Marvel masterplan now supposedly extends to 2028. Superhero films have never been more dominant, and yet there remain no announced plans for a single major vehicle with a woman in the lead. This, frankly, is starting to make the studios look like fools. Last year, "Gravity" made over $700 million worldwide, "The Hunger Games" over $850 million and "Frozen" is soon to soar past $1.1 billion. Global audiences don't just not have a problem with female protagonists - they love them.

And yet, executives continue to make excuses, as Monika Bartyzel pointed out this week. With that in mind, we've lined up 10 films we're sure could turn a profit at the worldwide box office. We've even cast them - they're ready to go! There are dozens of brilliant characters in the comic book universe who could make great movies, but for now, and knowing how risk-adverse studios are, we've focused almost exclusively on characters, brands and stars with proven box office clout. This means we've included no less than four X-Men spin-offs - but that's exactly the same number of Avengers characters (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk) who’ve been granted headline films of their own. Call it equality.

It's kind of depressing that we even have to write a list like this. But it wasn't hard. And forget about originality and representation for a moment - these are films just waiting to make money. We say that with certainty, because we'll be first in line. So go on, Hollywood, prove us right. Oh, and don't forget to hire a few female directors in the process.

10. Angelina Jolie as "Manhunter"

Admit it - it already sounds like a hit. It would take a lot for a studio to launch an unfamiliar superhero tentpole, let alone one with a female lead, but if anyone can do it, it's Angie. New Yorker Kate Spencer is a public prosecutor who becomes the titular vigilante while hiding her change of career from her son. A superhero who is also mother - we call that rich, untapped narrative territory that could give the genre a whole new spin. Jolie is the woman with the clout to sell it.

9. Halle Berry as "Storm"

Berry's standing as a leading lady in this genre is considered tainted by the Catwoman debacle, to which we say bullshit. Is there anyone who'd think twice about casting George Clooney, star of the miserable "Batman and Robin", in a different superhero role? Berry has played Storm four times while feeling that the character has never been given her due - she even refused to return for the third film unless her role was beefed up. But we say they didn't go nearly far enough. Give the woman a movie!

Catwoman is ready to be revitalized

8. Anne Hathaway as "Catwoman"

While we're revitalising Ms Berry as tentpole material, let's do the same for the franchise that killed her. Just as Clooney emerged unscathed from the "Batman and Robin" debacle, so the franchise rose again under Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan. So too, in fact, did the Catwoman character in Anne Hathaway's portrayal in "The Dark Knight Rises". Which only leaves the Catwoman franchise itself. Hathaway defied sceptical critics with her performance in the role - it's time for the franchise to do the same.

7. Ellen Page as "Kitty Pryde"

Pryde is one of the most beloved and respected characters in the X Men universe, with Ellen Page set to reprise her role in this summer’s sequel "Days of Future Past". Needless to say, casting an openly gay woman as a super hero would be doubly revolutionary. But Page's audience is not just ready - they are waiting for a role like this. Marvel have praised the character for drawing in new fans, and even named Kitty Pryde the No.1 X Men character on their own website, citing how easily audiences identify with her. And yet they've given Wolverine two spin-offs, and Kitty zero. Come on, guys!

Zhang Ziyi is a proven action star

6. Zhang Ziyi as "Spider Woman"

While Sony Pictures seem determined to churn out Spiderman films on repeat, Marvel Studios have the elusive character of Jessica Drew waiting in the wings. As a girl infected with a mutant gene by her father and then groomed as a terrorist before turning to more valiant aims, it is a fascinating origin story. With Asia now providing a serious percentage of global receipts and Zhang Ziyi having proved both her action credentials and her box office clout with "The Grandmaster" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", it's high time a Hollywood studio caught up.

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18 Comments

  • Pamela | June 12, 2014 1:18 AMReply

    My corrections since I can't edit


    You got at least one comment from a person who clearly has problem.....

    I meant to say just stupid and clearly sexist.

    Where some people were complaining about how weak Halle is as Storm

  • Pamela | June 12, 2014 1:12 AMReply

    I came to this website because I was doing a search on why there aren't any superhero movies with female leads. I love your list and would support every single one of them. I noticed you got at least one person who clearly has problems with older women and darker women. If women would stand up and make noise like we did in the 70s, I really think something could be done. It's 2014 and male comic book hero's are getting their own movies but women aren't..... just stupid and clearly stupid. I personally would love to see Angela Bassett as Storm. She has the edge that would fit perfectly.
    I read a comment somewhere else where complaining about how weak Halle Berry is in Storm but alas someone with brains posted how the director is at fault because he waters her down due to sexism. I couldn't agree more. 2014 and we are still battling sexism and racism.....sheesh, when will it end.

  • George | April 12, 2014 8:43 PMReply

    Charlize Theron would make a stellar Captain Marvel and Emily Blunt is perfect for Spiderwoman (they wanted her for Black Widow but this suits her even better, Jessica Drew is British in the comics)

  • HELEN LEE | April 13, 2014 9:20 AM

    Good calls!

  • SpikeGhost | April 10, 2014 8:48 PMReply

    While we're talking about Angelina Jolie, even though it's not a super hero, I need Salt 2.

  • WhoCares | April 9, 2014 7:46 PMReply

    These choices are idiotic. Are you really struggling so hard for stories? Halle Berry is easily one of the worst parts of the X-Men franchise and most of the other options are solo films for characters that already exist. Your "inspired" castings for Jean and Wonder Woman prove you have no clue about the characterization of those two heroes.

  • Chris | April 13, 2014 8:48 PM

    I think this is a dangerous game to accuse someone of being sexist/ageist just because they don't like your particular artistic choices.

    I agree on Halle Berry/Storm. I found Halle to be mostly weak as an actress in this movie. I don't particularly like Storm as a character either, mainly because her powers (controlling weather) just don't even seam realistically unrealistic. Before I'm accused of being sexist, I loved Jean Grey's character and the actress who played her (why don't we see her in more things)?

    Also: Meryl Streep is a great actress, but where is the connection to her playing Jean Grey? This would not sell, nor do I think Meryl would ever take the role.

  • HELEN LEE | April 10, 2014 6:24 AM

    And I can't resist adding that the pairing of your comment and your "name" is delightful

  • HELEN LEE | April 10, 2014 6:24 AM

    Our point was to propose the most bankable films because Hollywood is so clearly risk averse. Another of our points was that the X Men franchise has never given the comic book character of Storm (who I've been a fan of since I was ten) her due.

    I find it interesting that you choose to single out my proposed castings of a woman over 60 and a dark-skinned black actress. Alongside your Halle Berry issue, I think that says more about you than me.

  • Sean | April 9, 2014 6:10 AMReply

    If you want people to watch a female superhero movie you have to start with the well known female titles first , No has said anything about a Supergirl movie at yet I think it would smash the box office. They have already done a few standalone female titles Elektra being one of those titles . And one more thing sticking to the lore in the comic books makes it easier for people to identify with the hero or heroine if you go to far off its just like making a new movie that's just based on the hero and it don't even resemble them at all which typicly don't work look at Halle Berry in Catwoman it was based off the Anti-Hero in the comic books but it didn't have any story lines for any origins or background from any Catwoman comic book it didn't do that good .. Stick with the lore and it will be a better movie.

  • Kim | April 9, 2014 5:09 AMReply

    I'd go see every one of those movies.

  • Daniella Isaacs | April 8, 2014 8:48 PMReply

    Maybe we could go the other way, and just get rid of the male superhero movies? We'd still have gender equality and maybe a better genre could get some attention.

  • Mike | April 8, 2014 2:48 PMReply

    no no and no

  • WONDER WOMAN | April 8, 2014 3:31 PM

    7 out of 10 ain't bad, Mikey - popcorn's on me!

  • Joanne | April 8, 2014 2:22 AMReply

    Yeesh. The level of "play it safe" casting choices here belongs in Lameville USA. Just goes to show why people like Kevin Feige are in charge rather than fans.

    I'd like to see a Widow movie but I wouldn't mind if they put her on the back burner in favor of spending time and money on introducing more female heroes, primarily Ms Marvel/Capt. Marvel, Valkyrie, She Hulk, Monica Rambeau, Misty and Coleen, Mockingbird, Hellcat, etc. Downey, Evans, Jackson and Hemsworth aren't going to be around forever. The beauty of the way Feige has set up the marvel movieverse is that they can slowly introduce a new line up of Avengers through the satellite films. I'm perfectly willing to sacrifice a Widow solo film in favor of using her as a new continuity anchor to replace Jackson if and when he leaves. Of course we can't know how long Johansson will be around either but I imagine she'll be around longer than Jackson only because I have no doubt that Johansson comes a lot cheaper than Jackson does. Honestly, I'd rather they get the ball rolling on a Black Panther film before doing a Black Widow film.

  • HELEN LEE | April 8, 2014 3:40 AM

    Joanne, we deliberately went for big names to make the projects seem easier to sell. Not because we think that's the most interesting way to do it, but because we constantly hear the counter argument against female-led action movies.

    PS "The beauty of the way Feige has set up the marvel movieverse"? That kind of pours water all over the central tenet of this article...

  • PJ | April 7, 2014 9:54 PMReply

    A Black Widow movie would be so badass! Johansson is so good in the role!

  • Danielitro | April 7, 2014 5:02 PMReply

    Is it too much to ask for a new Buffy movie?

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