Wonder Woman was the first superhero movie in over a decade to feature a woman as the titular character; in fact, I can count the number of female-focused superhero movies (period) on one hand. It’s also the only woman-directed superhero movie. A lot seemed to be riding on its success—and according to the box office numbers and many critics, the movie delivered.
I am of the less popular opinion that Wonder Woman was just ok. The film takes itself too seriously, the slo-mo effect is used to death, the color palette is muddy, and it still felt fairly male gaze-y to me. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about—and a fellow Rioter has already written an excellent article on ways Wonder Woman could have done better.
After seeing Wonder Woman, I felt disappointed, and focused on how it could have been more feminist. But then I remembered: Wonder Woman is just one movie. It can’t represent capital-F Feminism. It can’t be all things to all people. We don’t need Wonder Woman to be better, we just need more female-driven superhero movies. I mean, Spider-Man was recently rebooted FOR THE FOURTH TIME. And I love Spider-Man; it was the best movie I’ve seen all year. But seriously, six Spider-Man movies in 15 years and I can count the number of female-focused superhero movies on one hand? That’s messed up. Let’s correct it, shall we? Here are seven comic book heroines—superheroes and otherwise—that also deserve feature films.
We all love high school flicks, right? That’s what growing up a decade after the ’80s brat-pack movies taught me. Well, what about a high school movie focused on a Pakistani-American girl who suddenly gets super powers? Not only is Kamala Khan dealing with high school, protective parents, and casual racism, but her body can also stretch and embiggen and get small and do other nutso things. So many superhero movies take themselves v. seriously; but I love superhero movies that appreciate comedy, and Ms. Marvel is funny while still poignantly dealing with difficult issues.
I’m, of course, referring to Kate Bishop as Hawkeye, written by Kelly Thompson. Hawkeye has just arrived in California; she’s trying to make a living as a not-yet-licensed PI and sometimes ends up battling weird creatures and possessed people. You loved it when Katniss did archery, yes? Well, Hawkeye is even better and her arrows go BOOM. Also Jessica Jones makes an appearance! This movie would be like Veronica Mars and Buffy had a baby, and it was raised by Marvel comics. What’s not to love?
While I’ve only read the first issue of this new series, I am positive America would make an amazing comic book. In the first issue alone you get badass women, feminist references (the college America attends is named after Sonia Sotomayor), and nazis getting punched. America Chavez is an insanely strong, queer brown woman, who can punch star-shaped holes between dimensions…and she’s heading off to college. A superhero college movie featuring a queer woman of color? Imagine the possibilities here, people. If that’s the only superhero movie I ever watch again I would not be mad.
Squirrel Girl is the superhero we need right now ya’ll. Doreen Green is a first-year computer science major with the proportional strength of a squirrel—which means she’s super strong, super fast, and super nerdy. Despite her super squirrel powers, do you know how Squirrel Girl often defeats her enemies? Talking to them. She questions their past, their motives, and makes them see the error of their ways, all without throwing a punch. Some of you out there may think that’s why Squirrel Girl would not make a solid, action-packed superhero movie, but I promise there is plenty of villain-throwing and kick punching to go around. And I don’t think I’m alone in believing our world could use a little less violence and a little more productive discussion these days.
Ok, Uma Akkolyte, main character of the comic Joyride, is not a superhero, but she’s super fucking awesome so she makes the list. Uma lives in a not-so-distant future where America is controlled by a fascist government which uses a gun large enough to decimate a city to “keep the peace.” All Uma wants is to steal a spaceship and fly into space, leaving behind memories of her recently deceased family, members of the resistance. But, as we all know, you can’t outrun your problems—especially when said problems are a fascist moon-gun wielding government. Full of epic space adventures and a sadly relevant plot, Joyride would make an amazing feature film.
Maika Halfwolf is an Arcanic, part of a magical race that has been oppressed and exploited by humans. After surviving a cataclysmic war and escaping enslavement, Maika is searching for answers. She’s also trying to figure out how to get rid of the life-devouring monster using her body as host. NBD. Grim and gorgeous, Monstress—a steampunk post-apocalyptic horror comic and recent winner of an Eisner Award—can’t be too far from film-adaptation. Plus, cats could narrate the movie; they helpfully sum up and expound upon the world of Monstress at the end of each issue.
Lunella Lafayette, aka Moon Girl, is an inspiration. She is a preteen genius working to ensure the Terrigen Cloud threatening New York City won’t turn anyone Inhuman. (Ok, we may need a bit of prologue to catch everyone up on what the heck I’m talking about, but that shouldn’t take more than 60 seconds of voiceover.) Teamed up with Devil Dinosaur—a giant red T-Rex with flaming eyes—fighting cavemen, and exclaiming things like “I’m not a wizard; I’m a scientist,” Lunella is my hero. Not only is this movie fun for the whole family, but it features a young, black, female nerd—a character that never gets enough screen time, let alone a lead role.
That’s only seven of my favorite comic book heroines; I could go on ad infinitum.Wonder Woman’s massive success has taught us there is so much room and demand for movies featuring comic book heroines. And I’m sure y’all have even more suggestions. I’d love to hear them.