Girl power: Superhero movies lack quality female leads

Abby Mendez

In the past decade, heroes like Captain America and Iron Man have dominated the movie industry, with movie franchises like Marvel and DC raking in billions of dollars. But it seems as if female superheroes have been left out, and while in the past few years they have gotten a lot better about having diversity in their films, it still seems as though they need some work.

A lot of the negative portrayal of female superheroes in movies is due to the comic book counterparts, where they are often over sexualized, or forced to play the “damsel in distress” role. I was surprised when I saw the Captain Marveltrailer and Captain Marvel herself was dressed in a full jumpsuit, as opposed to the revealing outfit she wears in the comics.

Overall, there seems to be an anti-female superhero atmosphere in the comic book world. While there are a large portion of female comic book nerds, it’s no secret that the majority of the fanbase is male. I remember seeing an ad on Instagram for a comic book based around a plus-sized female superhero. I clicked on the video and the comments on it were horrible. Despite many of the comments applauding the character, many of the comments also aimed to degrade her. While a plus-sized superhero like Mr. Incredible is seen as comedic and powerful (despite being bigger), a plus-sized female is seen as “disgusting” and “promoting an unhealthy lifestyle”.

When it comes to female superheroes in movies, they are received negatively. Star Wars, actresses Kelly Marie Tran and Daisy Ridley were both run off of social media due to harassment from the Star Wars fans. The majority of the hate they received was fans claiming that they had “ruined the movies”, and fans making racist and sexist comments. As much as I agree that the past two Star Wars movies have not been the best, audiences shouldn’t blame the actors for a character they did not write. Kelly Marie Tran even spoke up about the harassment, saying that after a while she had began to believe what they were saying to be true.

When it comes to female-lead superhero movies, Wonder Woman is one that got it right. The movie was a huge success, a huge feat for a female-lead superhero movie. Critics and audiences all applauded the movie for its strong female cast and good story line. The movie was a stark contrast from other female-lead superhero movies like Catwoman and Elektra, which did not do well in theaters. In fact, the lack of interest in female lead superhero movies is part of the reason why there aren’t any. So when Wonder Woman was released and had an amazing outcome, it opened a new door for female lead superhero movies.

The female fanbase of superhero movies and comics is a growing number, so it’s very important for these movies to exist and provide a positive role model for young girls. Overall, there has been a large improvement in the movie industry. Audiences are getting to see movies like Captain Marvel, which comes out in 2019, and Wonder Woman, which spearheaded the female-lead superhero movies portray strong women in a male dominated industry, but there is still a major gap in the industry which will hopefully change in the coming years.