As comic book films become more and more prevalent, one question still lingers: Where are the films based on female superheroes?
The nature of women in comics is a tricky one to sort through, given the roots of comics (in the United States, at least) as action and crime-centric short stories marketed to and starring young males.
Women in those stories were to be rescued, draped on the arm or were (even worse) about as genuinely unlikable as you could imagine, with sadly the character of Lois Lane coming to mind most vividly.
Her premiere role for a majority of years in Superman comics was that of the husband-hunter, always trying to trick or dupe Superman into exchanging vows. While, in hindsight, these older comics can seem so offensive that they are comical, it is always because modern readers expect better.
The work of writers and artists, such as Gail Simone, Amanda Conner, Amy Reeder and Becky Cloonan have progressed the comic medium forward, but much more work still needs to be done.
But still, what about the film industry arm of the big comic companies? Recently, news echoed across the internet, Twitter-verse and TV stations that, at long last, an actress had been secured for a popular comic character. Not just any female comic character — THE female character, Wonder Woman, had been cast.
Well, the results have finally been revealed — Wonder Woman will indeed finally be on the big screen, but only in a supporting role in the next (currently untitled) Superman film.
Wonder Woman will be attached, reportedly, as a “love interest” for the character of Bruce Wayne/Batman. While many fans lamented such a debut for this particular character, one issue in particular struck a very bizarre chord — that Wonder Woman will be played by Gal Gadot.
“Who?” most people asked upon hearing the news. Gadot is most famous for her role in “The Fast and the Furious franchise,” though she’s not nearly as well-known as co-star Michelle Rodriquez. She is an attractive woman who has been offered the chance of a lifetime … and people, women included, could not have jumped down her throat faster. Cries of “eat a sandwich” and “hope you love living in the gym” were common, a trend which mires the one good aspect of Gadot’s casting. That is, that we are getting the character on screen at all!
If handled correctly, Gadot can help ensure that the character of Wonder Woman again is capable of inspiring young girls and women. The original character of Wonder Woman has existed as an almost un-castable icon for years. Despite the plethora of Greek-fantasy films of late, few claim to know how to use Wonder Woman’s mythology to its best use. One hopes Wonder Woman being included in DC’s biggest upcoming film project means they are serious about using the character correctly.
Still, in an era where the biggest female lead in a super hero film thus far was Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow from “The Avengers,” (which had her teamed up with six other male heroes,) any chance for Gadot’s Wonder Woman to shine in her own film will be welcome.
While the trend of giving women their own legitimate, empowering superhero films has been almost nonexistent (“Elektra” was a wretched film, but I suppose it should count) Gal Gadot could become the biggest name in genuine, positive superhero equality. Meanwhile, perhaps people need to quit calling Gadot atrocious names, go read some of Brian Azzarello or Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman comic titles, watch some of Linda Carter’s groundbreaking episodes of the classic television show and wait and see how everything plays out.
Until then, Gadot embodies the hope that young girls can gain a same-sex hero to cheer for in 2015.
Michael Hale is currently a graduate student at the University of Texas at Tyler and a general aficionado of comic books, films, video games and all things geek-related.