Wonder Woman movie heralds new era for female superheroes

Expect to see more women comic book characters on the big screen as studios bet audiences will pay to see more diversity in movies.

Hollywood bets on women comic book characters to bring in box office dollars

CBC's Deana Sumanac-Johnson explores why Hollywood seems ready for more female superheros

8 years ago
Duration 2:39
CBC's Deana Sumanac-Johnson explores why Hollywood finally seems ready for more female superheros

Hollywood seems to be finally embracing female superheroes, as shown by recent news that big screen adaptations of Wonder Woman and the character of Ms. Marvel are in the works.

"There's always been a sense out there that men won't go to see movies with female superheroes," Forbes magazine's Hollywood correspondent Dorothy Pomerantz tells CBC.

But, thanks to the huge box office success of The Hunger Games movies and Angelina Jolie's dark fantasy Maleficent, that attitude is finally changing.

Maleficent made $750 million US at the global box office.

Israeli actor Gal Gadot will pick up Wonder Woman's golden lasso in Warner Bros.' live-action version of the classic comic story. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
"On top of that, there is an outcry from the fans," said  Pomerantz. "They want to see these female superheroes. Not just women, it's men too."

The long-awaited Wonder Woman movie, based on the DC Comics superhero, is scheduled for release in 2017. It will star Israeli actor Gal Gadot in the title role and will be directed by Michelle MacLaren, a Canadian-born producer/director known for her work on Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and The X-Files.

Marvel's first female lead

Marvel Studio's first female-led movie, Captain Marvel, is due out in summer 2018. (David Lopez/Marvel Entertainment)

Meanwhile, Marvel Studios has its own female superhero film in the works.

The female version of Captain Marvel (and her alter ego Carol Danvers) will make her self-titled, big screen debut in 2018. She will be the first female superhero to lead a Marvel motion picture.

The iconic male version of Captain Marvel was first created by legendary comic artist Stan Lee in the 1960s.

The pressure on pop icons

Author Jill Lepore, who recently published The Secret History of Wonder Woman, welcomes this new era of female superheroes in the movies. But, she warns, "because there are actually so few pop icons who are women fighting for women's rights, there's a lot of pressure on Wonder Woman as a character to deliver a great deal."

Fans and critics will have to wait a couple of years to see if the results will lead to further acceptance of female superheroes in Hollywood. Or, if these movies flop at the box office, Pomerantz says, Hollywood might use it to reinforce the old stereotype that "female superheroes don't work."

Watch Deana Sumanac-Johnson's full report in the video above.


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