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Cross Post: Dear Hollywood: Hiring Women Directors Could Rescue the Superhero Movie. Love, Half the Human Race

Women and Hollywood By Susan Wloszcyna | Women and Hollywood July 10, 2013 at 2:00PM

The superhero picture is suffering from female trouble, and not just because a franchise based on Wonder Woman keeps going in and out of development limbo. Any creature on screen minus a 'Y' chromosome tends to be a side player in this cinematic universe...
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* Women don't go to these films anyway.

Take a look around you next time you are at Comic-Con. There are plenty of females who will pay to see these blockbusters -- just ask "Man of Steel"'s blushing female Army captain (who delivers this trenchant observation: "He's kind of hot"), although the beefcake component is just one draw. Besides, 2012 stats on movie-going habits released by the Motion Picture Association of America show females make up 52% of the audience. Don't they deserve to have more of a say in how these movies depict their gender, especially with that extra percentage on their side?

*Women are already contributing creatively offscreen, so who cares if they direct, too.

Not so fast. Superman director Zack Snyder's wife, Deborah, might regularly act as a producer on his films. Producer Laura Ziskin may have had a great deal of influence on the first " Spider-Man" franchise (whose 2002 debut featured probably the most romantic moment ever in a superhero adventure -- the upside-down Spidey kiss). But as movie historian Jeanine Basinger told me last year while discussing the new generation of female action figures in such films such as "The Hunger Games" and "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," it is important for women to be directors, because it is the director's vision that ultimately defines what you see onscreen. As she put it, "Letting woman take charge of bringing images to life onscreen will result in more living, breathing models of female behavior."

* Not enough female directors are equipped to handle the complicated special effects required by these blockbusters -- or even know much about the backstories of these characters.

The least-informed excuse of them all. Consider the backgrounds of the male directors who launched all these mega-budget franchises:Bryan Singer ("X-Men"),Sam Raimi (the original "Spider-Man"),Christopher Nolan (" Batman Begins"), Ang Lee ("Hulk"), Jon Favreau ("Iron Man"), Marc Webb (" The Amazing Spider-Man"). They might be big deals now, but they all got their starts in low-budget films. Why is Webb, known for his 2009 Sundance romantic comedy " (500) Days of Summer," any more qualified to direct a comic-book movie than female festival darlings such as Debra Granik, whose gritty " Winter's Bone" from 2010 was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar?

Besides, a boyhood spent reading comics in bed with a flashlight is not required for bringing these stories to the masses. Singer, who made his reputation with the small, smart "The Usual Suspects" in 1995, has always owned up to the fact he had little knowledge of the X-Men comics before directing the first movie in 1999. It certainly didn't hurt his ability to translate Wolverine and company into a big-screen success and turn the title into a durable movie franchise.

One recent hiring gives a glimmer of hope: Sam Taylor-Johnson, who did the well-received 2009 John Lennon bio "Nowhere Boy," is about to call the shots on the much-sweated-over film version of E.L. James' erotic novel "Fifty Shades of Grey," which is to ladies of a certain age what "Twilight" is to tween girls.

When I asked some male colleagues this year why they thought no women had directed a major comic-book film yet, their guess was that female filmmakers did not want to do such films. To that, I cry bull.

I, for one, would love to see what the likes of Sarah Polley,Sofia Coppola,Jane Campion,Kasi Lemmons,Lynne Ramsay,Kimberly Peirce,Courtney Hunt,Phyllida Lloyd,Lone Scherfig and Mary Harron would bring to the superhero table. I bet a few of them would like to get their creative hands on one, too.

And, although "Zero Dark Thirty" was essentially a real-life female superhero film, nothing would blow my mind more than if they gave "Wonder Woman" over to Bigelow, a true superwoman herself.

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Susan Wloszczyna is is a freelance entertainment writer. She was the film reporter at USA Today. You can follow her on Twitter here

Reposted with permission from RogerEbert.com

This article is related to: Women Directors, Superheroes