4 Terrible Reasons Female Superheroes Don’t Get Solo Movies

Posted on: May 22nd, 2013

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Marvel have confirmed, via The Hollywood Reporter, that a Ms/Captain Marvel film script is ready and waiting. It seems a bit of a no-brainer, really, given that there also working on bringing the likes of Black Panther, Doctor Strange and Iron Fist to the big screen, and Captain Marvel is just as well known (or not, in the case of non-geeks) as they are. And yet this news came as a shock. Mainly because, until this point, Marvel has shown very little interest in getting female heroes to the big screen. Black Widow will appear in her third Marvel movie next year and is played by one of the most famous actresses on the planet, and yet has no solo movie in sight.



Captain Marvel



Of course, a Captain Marvel script does not equal a Captain Marvel film. Getting blockbuster films to the big screen is always a tricky proposition, given the money that needs to be put on the line. But film studios are far more reluctant to put that cash down on female-led films than on any number of obscure male heroes. DC turned down a Whedon-helmed Wonder Woman movie but went forward with the less-well-known (but male) Green Lantern. What made them think that Hal Jordan would be a more viable prospect than the Amazing Amazon? Gender.

Because female leads are box office poison. Everyone knows that. Except, of course, it’s a load of bollocks. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons superheroine films don’t get made, shall we?


4. Female-Led Films Don’t Make Money





The Hunger Games was the third biggest-grossing movie of 2012, beaten only by The Avengers and The Dark Knight. In other words, Katniss Everdeen made more money last year than James Bond. (Bella Swan and Princess Merida didn’t do too badly either.)


3. Female Superhero Movies

Bomb At The Box Office


It’s hard to argue against this one, seeing as of the three films about comic book ladies (Supergirl, Elekra and Catwoman) failed to set the film world alight. Elektra, in fact, was the only one not to lose money. However, they all grossed more than the various Punisher movies.




And remember, not all of the male heroes got things right the first time. The 90′s produced Captain America and Fantastic Four films that spectacularly fell on their arses, and Nick Fury wasn’t exactly box office gold before Samuel L Jackson took on the role. That didn’t stop Hollywood from making superhero movies. So why should three bad superheroine movies be enough to condemn the genre?

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Author Info

I'm a script writer and film maker who also writes for @starburst_mag and @badhaven. Occassionally I sleep, too.

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  • RealTruth

    You’ve got it. Hollywood is sexist and racist. That’s why they don’t have strong female superhero leads like Wonder Woman and Super Girl. That’s why they don’t have Asian male romantic leads. That’s why the Black guy often dies in a group. That’s why you have goofy guys like Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller being matched with attractive women who normally would be out of their league. It’s the people who are making the decisions that choose what they want.

  • Mack Heath

    idk well think of it this way a new film comes out some wait for it to be available on DVD then they buy it so they can watch it as many times as they want and only have to pay for it one time but I hope no one tries to change Iron Man into Iron Woman but people do crazy things

  • Mack Heath

    boys might not like female super hero’s but men do since they look so nice

  • Mack Heath

    well to be honest i dont think this list is fair to a point cause there was never a Iron woman but think some I have seen on the big screen like Cat woman , Electra, Wonder Woman or even Super Girl in the past to me was not that bad from what i seen heck even some of the X-Men was female but that is just my opinion

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  • Scarletpath

    Fandoms are getting more and more popular now these days and to think that they can only make money on Super hero movies with major male roles is really stupid. It will get really boring and cliched. There is a WHOLE WORLD of comic gold that isn’t being touched because of really stupid reasons. We really need more female Super Hero movies. And don’t give me that ‘Oh, but Electra and Catwomen movies all bombed and female Super hero movie won’t work’ BS! Tell me, how many super hero films out there have a Female as the lead? Hmm? Well tell me! There have been many Super hero movies that have bombed and many that mave huge mistakes. (I still can’t forgive what they did to Deadpool!) Let’s make more movies with Female leads so that we don’t make more of these mistakes. Wonder Woman, She-Hulk, BAT WOMAN! Common guys, Bat Woman, a strong red headed lesbian crime fighter. I know you want to see that. Actually I think we really need a first gay crime fighter movie. What better than a Bat Woman film.

    Oh, and BS to ‘There isn’t a lot of Woman comic readers’. There are TONS. Comics are not just a male thing. Maybe a long LONG time ago, but not now. Make way for a newer world of Comic book fans.

  • Knightwing19

    “Yeah, because Robert Downey Jnr was a known action movie star when he took the Iron Man role. ”

    Umm Robert Downey Jr. was really famous before Iron Man. Are you 12? How could you not know that? LOL!

  • a girl

    i think they sometimes focus too much on female characters sex appeal rather than making sure that they are well written. i think a movie about the black widow would be great. she’s sexy, yes, but she’s also sassy, clever and entertaining to watch.. she seems like a character who has an interesting history.

  • Jake

    I loved this article and all of you guys replying negatively are sexist as hell, ultimately women have proved they can do everything a man can do and this author has an amazing point and its one that Joss Whedon firmly stands behind as well, just saying. Joss has already said he wants more leading ladies kicking ass and thats why he is giving a considerable amount more screen time to the Black Widow for Avengers 2. Excellent article but I cannot believe how many people disagree with something that obviously needs to be done, I mean that’s just that it needs to be done, we need more female leads…period.

  • dregj

    perhaps its that the lady superheroes are based on cheesy dated female version of male supers.
    we need some originality

    like an empowerd movie
    that would rule

  • BiscuitSlipper

    To go back to the “female superhero movies bomb at the box office” for a second. Those movies sucked and everyone knows it. The only reason superhero’s have jumped into the limelight is because they picked the RIGHT directors, NERDS….you need a nerd to make a nerdy movie otherwise you’ll get a gritty aka sometimes shitty (DK rises anyone?) movie where they try to make the hero real and able to happen in our world.
    Am I the only one that wants to see unrealistic mystical heroes blasting lazer beams out of their eyes or flying through space fighting aliens and a FREAKING RACCOON WITH A GUN!?

    Female superheroes! Get a good nerdy writer and make it a fun movie…build origin stories or hell you could even skip them and assume that we all know who you are and get to the ass kicking already. Don’t make it all gritty and boring. Jump out of the corner they have been hiding you and start swinging for the fences….DO NOT do another Catwoman or Elektra and try to take yourself so seriously.

    • Darth Paton

      dark knight rises was great dumbass

    • SexySuperVillain

      I thought it was horrible as well…

  • Big Nasty

    Nice points being made. It’s about time we see some heroines spring to life.

    I’m game for a Carol Danvers film.. my only resistance would be that Captain Marvel is an important part of her back story and I’d be surprised to see that included in the film version, meaning she might have some very generic origin story

  • Anonymous

    The movies talked about failed not because they had a female lead…they failed because the scripts/direction was total crap. A female superhero flick could succeed if done right. Though not hero flicks, films such as Underworld and Resident Evil are successful with some kick-ass FEMALE leads. Not to mention Hunger Games. It can be done. Just need a good script/director.

  • erj

    The real reason why female super heroes don’t make it to the big screen…First off, Hunger Games worked because it was a decent alternative to Twilight…it was a teen flick, and in an entity different category. Second, while female super heroes have hosted their own comics, most were in the 80′s. Most of those characters have been seen as sexist in nature today, and have no proven formula for getting to the big screen. And in Hollywood, its not about whats new, its about what already been done. Also, while Black Widow would obviously make a good movie, the format would need to be way different from the rest of the Avengers films to be truly affective.

  • a dude

    that last one makes no sense I’m a guy and my favourite character is she hulk if marvel made a she hulk movie I’d probably watch it a million times

  • Reece

    “Downey Jr is a short arse who ain’t getting any younger” what a stupid comment to make, these actors are cast based on their talent and how well they suit the already established superhero. If a man said a similar comment about a female actor he’d be accused of sexism. Truth is, a female dominated superhero film just isn’t feasible as the market would not big enough, the Punisher movies were low budget £30 million dollar movies, whereas Catwoman’s budget was £100 million so it’s not really a great argument to justify Catwoman’s failure.

  • Chrysalis

    This author is obviously a female, she gave the most stupid examples and is obviously a feminist at that. Hunger games? Is Katniss Evergeen a super hero? I honestly laughed when the author brought the Hunger Games into this. Girls read comics as well? Of course, that’d be silly not to assume so. However, the main (And the CLEAR majority) of viewers are male. They may not dislike girl super heros for many males consider females less than themselves (subconciously, its only an animal instinct, cant blame them.) and like.. The other points were just stupidly executed. They were good points, but the author gave them so poorly that it just made me feel like the points she made were bs, when in fact they made some sense.

  • Gabriel

    Face it bub, there are not that many female superheroes. What’s more, most of them don’t even have their own solo comics [They're usually side-kicks or part of a comic series] so what sense would it make if they have their own solo movies? Most aren’t even popular among non-comic fans.

    Also, the few female superhero movies that have been released all bombed at the box office. Don’t give me that balderdash about ‘The Punisher’ bombing too. I think that’s expected when male flicks are done lots of the time. Bound to be failures along the way but the few attempts made at female flicks, the majority bomb.

    3 and 4 are pretty much the same. Out of ideas, perhaps?

    Yeah, girls read comics too but what’s that, like 10% or something.

    The target audience is always male. Sorry, that’s how it works.

    You’re talking as if female characters aren’t given roles whatsoever.

    • Mark McCann

      I’d just like to ask; what are you smoking, and where can I get some of it? Because it appears to have given you the ability to time travel to the land of comics that was nearly 3 decades ago. The one where women were in funny books solely to facilitate that fan-boy urge for hot chicks in tight outfits.

      Sure, we still do. So do girls and myriad Cosplayers. And while the stats still show a predominantly male comic audience (70 percent of a DC survey in 2012 showed 5,336 respondents were already fans, with only 5 percent completely new to buying comics, and 93% were male. What’s more, only an estimated 2 percent were younger than 18 years old), the comic book industries desire to expand right now is in flux like never before. The mainstream now read comics, girls now read comics (5% is a big growth from 0), an ethnically diverse, sexually diverse audience now reads comics.

      And they need to, as the industry, like any business is looking to expand it’s audience before the only people still reading comics are guys in their 30′s who started reading 20 years ago. That’s known as an unsustainable market. Things have to, and are changing.

      Jill Pantozzi wrote on the issue of women’s lack of comic reading for The Mary Sue:

      The bottom line? It’s not that women aren’t reading comics, it’s that a lot of women aren’t reading DC comics and there are legitimate, concrete reasons for that. Why do women make so much noise about what’s going on at DC? They WANT to read your comics. They LOVE your characters. They’re just turned off by how they’re represented. It’s an incredibly easy fix if you’d just try.

      The comic book industries reply to this broader audience looking for a way in has been to write characters that reflect it (particularly in Marvel’s new wave of female-centric books and solo titles).

      Your holding onto a very old school view that is not just in decline, but doesn’t actually exist anymore.

      In the 21st Century, Statistically I can tell you (as a guy who, you know researches these things) that comics are now catering their lines with the aim of being more inclusive and increasing their audience growth.

      Because if they don’t evolve, they will stagnate and die. And that’s bad new for everyone

    • Mark McCann
    • Abigail Chandler

      You’re right to say that more men read comics than women. That is a well-known fact. But there’s nothing to say it needs to stay that way. When the novel was first introduced, it was seen as a mainly female-targeted source of entertainment. Male readership grew over the centuries until novel-readers were a roughly 50-50 gender split. Things change, generally for the better. Because more readers – of any gender – equals more money.

      Women might not be reading comics in their millions, but they’re certainly watching the films and TV shows that are based on comics. They don’t care that these films and TV shows have male leads – women are used to watching male leads. We don’t have any other choice. But if a film came out with a female superhero lead these action-movie-watching ladies would lap it up. So would most guys, so long as they didn’t suffer from deep-rooted fears of powerful women. And, if the film was good, these new female fans would probably even go and buy some comics staring the superheroine in question. Which would lead to more women reading comics.

      And you wouldn’t object to that, I’m sure?

    • Gabriel

      Actually, any time comics are released specifically for a female audience, you hear complaints of stereotyping and sexualisation.

      However, they refuse to read comics that are released for the general public. What do they want?

      The topic at hand is 4 “Terrible” reasons why female superheroes don’t get solo movies. I’d say a lot of them are well-justified.

    • tom

      question for you, Gabriel:

      Do you LIKE the idea of female empowerment and female-driven film? A simple yes or know answer would do.

    • jim

      Tom is a mangina. No sense in arguing with him. May even be a woman posing as a man, because no man continues to argue and says he is right when the facts are right up in his face

    • Eric Ness

      kinda pathetic….gabriel is hitting the nail right on the head and people are hating on him just because they cant accept reality. How are we all missing the basic fact that men are stronger than wpomen?!!!! i mean would u expect a sports film about a female football player?!!

    • Mark McCann

      Okay, well that’s fair enough. Men are stronger than women generally speaking in real life. But not in the fantasy medium of comic books they’e not. See we’re talking about comic book movies here, not reality, where there are super powered women all over the place. And in comic books super-powered guys are exceptional compared to all the other guys. So why is it impossible that we might consider this for super-powered women too?

      This isn’t about who’s stronger and who’d win; men or women. It’s about having a superhero movie where the lead fantastical character is a female, not a male.

      This isn’t an attack on men in films (as a power-lifter and vocal advocate of ‘Men’s Rights’ I’d be quick to put it down if it was). This is an article saying isn’t it about time women got a decent shot as well?

      It’s baffles me that calling out crap reasons for women not get a shot at superhero films is being met with such resistance, as some of the best action heroes in sci-fi and fantasy of the past 20 years have been women.

      I’d love to see a She-Hulk movie. My favorite character though, has always been Hulk. Doesn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy a movie featuring his ‘female’ cousin.

  • WoWed

    Wonder Woman suffers the same fate as Aquaman. Most of what people know is from an outdated TV show. Those that know about them in their current forms are a vast minority and not the target audience.

  • Catwhit

    Let’s move beyond the excuses and look at reasons: Hollywood is run by mostly misogynistic old men who can’t keep up with pop culture trends.

    • Gabriel

      Yep, feel free to label anyone that doesn’t bend to your whims “misogynistic.” A commonly over-used word especially these days.

      There are not even that many female superhero movies to begin with yet they release a good number of female-character led movies.

      I wouldn’t call Christopher Nolan, Tim Burton, Zack Snyder, Joss Whedon, Bryan Singer “misogynistic old men who can’t keep up with pop culture trends.”

      Face it, the audience would prefer Spider-man over Spider-woman, Superman over Supergirl and so on and so forth.

      Hey! Don’t let facts get in the way.

    • tom

      Gabriel, I am male and I would love to see a female-driven superhero movie be a success. And I personally know many men who agree with this viewpoint. So that blows your theory out of the water.

      Also, have you actually compared the number of female-led films to male-led ones? Unless you live under a rock, you can obviously see that male movies dominate. Please do not try to argue that men are just more interested in watching movies than women.

    • Gabriel

      Oh don’t be an idiot. Why do male movies dominate? I’ll let you figure that one yourself.

      The few female superheroes that they DO release flop!

      “And I personally know many men who agree with this viewpoint. So that blows your theory out of the water.”

      What theory? Are you REALLY REALLY telling me that the audience doesn’t PREFER (take notice of that word as it seems you didn’t) to see male-driven superhero movies? I mean, look what “Supergirl” did in the Box Office,

      Let me sign off with this: Liking your own comments certainly makes you look cheap.

    • Kiyah

      Those guys you mentioned? I wouldn’t call them that either. But they don’t run Hollywood. The guys who run the big-name studios and do the financial backing though… those guys run older, and are more likely to have old-fashioned views. Those are the people who won’t make a female-led action movie any more – the same guys who say in one breath that women don’t watch movies and in the next pitch another formulaic rom-com.

      (My guess? They have an opinion on what women should be watching and they only want to make that. My anecdata? Every single female friend I have ran to Pacific Rim because they’d been told it was an action movie with a prominent lady and NO ROMANCE. There were many angry letters the week after.)

    • Basilikon

      After this many tired Spider-man movies (bearing in mind that he’s my favourite comic character by a large margin), I’d love to see a Spider-Woman movie, particularly Jessica Drew (it would tie in very well with all the S.H.I.E.L.D. stuff that Marvel has going on). I am a male who has been reading comics for thirty years, and I am part of that audience that you claim doesn’t want to see female super heroes. I have news for you: the obnoxious vocal minority does not speak for everybody. YOU want to see more strong men in tights (more power to you), but some if us like *gasp* variety in life.

    • PoopSammich

      I’m sorry all of the movies that had female superheroes sucked…should we blame that on misogyny as well? Elektra? Catwoman? They had VERY good strong actresses that were just garbage.

      It’s awesome that people drop racism and sexism into every conversation when they don’t get what they want.

      Make better super heroines and then we’ll want to see it. Also leave the shitty origin story out of the movie and just skim it in passing instead of saying you’re rich or you saw a crime and want to make a difference.

  • matt

    I mean no disrespect but just an fyi ms marvel and captain marvel are two different people from two different universes. Ms marvel being from marvel and captain marvel being from dc and a man. (well a boy who terns into a man but thats besides the point).