Girls Just Wanna Kick Supervillain Butt

<p>These days, there are a few comic book based movies every year. And even the ones that bomb get remade soon afterward or make way for prequels and spin-offs that Hollywood hopes will do better. We've seen the X-Men, Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor. We've also seen lower tier comic book characters like Ghost Rider and John Constantine. Even Blade, who was almost always a supporting cast character rather than a star, wound up getting a full blown trilogy of films. <p>Now, there is <i>finally</i> a substantial report that <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/20128-report-gal-gadot-s-3-picture-deal-includes-justice-league-wonder-woman-solo-film.html>Wonder Woman</a> may actually hit the big screen in a solo film (more on her later), and that at least gives us <i>hope</i>. <p>What we have had is the once-again rise of the female action star, and movies like <i>Hunger Games</i> prove in real Hollywood terms (see: box office and DVD success) that a female-led action film <i>will</i> be seen and loved by audiences – if it is actually good. <p>So here are 10 films that need to happen; And Studios? We don’t want to hear any more excuses or half answers, we just want progress and announcements. <p><i>Lucas Siegel and Michael Doran contributed to an updated version of this article. Original article published October 2011.</i>

SPIDER-WOMAN

In the Marvel Universe, HYDRA is a terrorist cult that has existed in different forms for centuries, including as a supportive branch of the Nazi party (as seen in the film <b>Captain America: The First Avenger</b>). Dr. Jonathan Drew was a research scientist working for HYDRA when a lab accident imbued his daughter Jessica with the genetic traits of a spider. Along with incredible strength, reflexes and agility, Jessica's mutation wound up giving her the ability to discharge electrical "venom blasts" from her hands. She also later got the ability to fly. <p>Still a young girl, Jessica was turned into a terrorist by HYDRA, told that this was her family and what they did was to help the world. Only later did she realize the truth, forcing her to question her identity and purpose in the world. Considering how many cults and terrorists are in the news today, it would be interesting for a protagonist to begin as a villain of this sort and then watch her shift her beliefs, choosing who she is rather than simply being a weapon. <p>This kind of film would no doubt amaze many non-comic book readers when they learn just how completely different Spider-Woman is from Peter Parker and that this is NOT your typical superhero tale. And a sequel could explore her later adventures as a private detective or as an agent of S.W.O.R.D., an agency that protects Earth from aliens. Plus, getting Jessica a film may be a way for Marvel Studios to have a spider of their own without stepping on Sony Pictures' tail.

BLACK WIDOW

This one is a no-brainer, folks. She's been in two Marvel Studios movies, sure, and by all accounts she has a large role in <i>Captain America: The Winter Soldier</i>. CCO Joe Quesada, when asked at NYCC about a female-led Marvel movie, asked the fan if she was excited for <i>Winter Soldier</i>, then said "You need to watch that movie. You need to watch that movie." <p>But Joe, Marvel, that's not enough. Scarlett Johansson is <i>hot</i> right now. She has a string of successes, is firmly entrenched in moviegoers' minds as a member of the Avengers, and hey, Universal has already recognized her potential as a solo superhero: they're filming <i>Lucy</i>, a female-led superhero movie starring Scarlett <a href="http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=110564"><i>right now</i></a>. <p>Hear that, Marvel Studios? That's your opportunity to keep being the groundbreaking superhero leader passing you by. Start this one in production sooner rather than later.

ZATANNA

Zatanna Zatarra is a stage magician. Except she's not just an illusionist. As the daughter of homo magi, a sub-race of humanity that once lived in Atlantis, she can access actual magical energies. By speaking her desires backwards, she can make them reality. Able to toss lightning or incapacitate enemies by simply shouting "Gninthgil ekirts ym eof!" or "Og ot peels!", she's been a powerful force for good, taking down supernatural creatures that threaten the planet and aiding Earth's superheroes. Currently, she's a member of a new team of supernatural protectors in the pages of <b>Justice League Dark</b>. <p>Zatanna fights evil when she comes across it, but she normally doesn't go out looking for trouble. Instead, she's usually focused on improving her magic (both real and stage illusion) and having an entertaining social life. At the same time, she's no stranger to tragedy. She's seen her share of darkness, has faced down demons, and her father met a tragic end while helping to protect Earth. But audiences could see that despite these hardships, Zatanna (or "Zee" as Batman calls her) refuses to become a brooding, cynical person. Her sense of humor, magical abilities and desire to put on a good show even while battling evil makes her a highly entertaining character. After the recent slew of movies featuring a certain boy wizard, let's give this lady a chance to enjoy the spotlight. <p>After all, she looks much better in fishnets!

CASSIE HACK

Cassie was a shy girl with an overbearing mother and an absent father. She silently suffered teasing and bullying at school until, one day, her mother killed the children who were mean to her. Horrified and wracked with guilt Cassie stopped her mother and was put into foster care. When her mother returned later, teenage Cassie stopped her once more and began traveling. Now she hunts down killers, monsters and "slashers." Doesn't matter if they're supernatural or just crazy, Hack uses bats, axes, knives and fists to put them in the grave before they can claim more victims. And all the while, she searches for her father. <p>When <b>Buffy the Vampire Slayer</b> was introduced, she was a twist on the typical horror movie victim who was finally able and willing to fight back. Hack takes this to a new level in the <b>Hack/Slash</b> comics. At times she seems as vicious as those she pursues, delivering death as if she's answering a higher calling, but she's driven by a need to protect innocents and at her core she's still a shy girl trying to figure out her place in a world that seems insanely dangerous. <p>She's not strictly a superhero in the traditional sense, but neither is the Punisher and he's had three live-action films so far.

COLLEEN WING & MISTY KNIGHT

Colleen Wing is a modern day samurai, trained in the ancient warrior ways while she lived in Japan with her grandfather. Misty Knight is a former NYC cop who lost her arm during a bombing and got herself a cybernetic replacement limb courtesy of Iron Man himself. Together, they run a detective agency, investigating crimes and problems where the police can't help. Between their powers of deduction and their fighting abilities, these "daughters of the dragon" are able to take down a large variety of criminals and help many superheroes along the way. <p>Hollywood loves buddy comedies. Here's a buddy comedy with two women who can kick some serious ass and fight crime. Their friendship and banter have entertained fans throughout various comic book story lines. And when you have a duo of a cyborg and a samurai, it opens up the doors to all kinds of high-flying adventure stories that are sure to bring in action fans. At the same time, you don't have to bother with costumes or lengthy superhero origin stories, meaning you can just jump into the action. This pair seems like they would be such an easy sell for the big screen, we're surprised it hasn't happened already.

MANHUNTER

There have been multiple vigilantes to use the name Manhunter in the DC Comics Universe. But the one who stands out is Kate Spencer, the latest inheritor of the title. You think it's hard being a federal prosecutor? Kate is one in a world full of superheroes and villains. Eventually, she gets sick of seeing criminals get off due to technicalities. Stealing a collection of high-tech weapons from evidence lock-up, she becomes the vigilante Manhunter, taking down villains she wasn't able to send to jail. But it's not as easy as Kate might've hoped. She's forced to reconsider her life and her stance on the law, plus she now has to juggle her life between her job, her vigilante activities, and being a good mom to her son while dealing with her judgmental ex-husband. <p>A lot of today's films and TV like to approach superheroes with a post-modern lens, grounding it more in conventional reality. Manhunter definitely appeals to that style. She wields advance weaponry, yes, but she's not a scientist or an engineer and so she's forced to recruit help when repairs are needed. She's able to take down super-villains, but gets frustrated when she's in the mood for a smoke and can't find a lighter in her apartment. And since she doesn't have a cave to hide all her cool stuff, she risks her son finding her superhero gear hanging in the closet when she's not looking. But it's not all jokes. Kate is a serious, introspective woman driven by a deep desire for justice. <p>With all the movies and TV shows that pop up each year about lawyers, can't one of them be a superhero, too?

CATWOMAN

Okay, yeah, the notion of a <b>Catwoman</b> solo movie after the 2004 Halle Berry stinker probably seems unfathomable, but as our own <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/19401-what-so-tricky-about-a-wonder-woman-movie.html>Vaneta Rogers astutely points about</a>, the problem with that movie was <i>that</i> movie and not some inherent problem with Catwoman. <p>So here’s the pitch: Anne Hathaway reprises her role in a prequel to <i>The Dark Knight Rises</i>, set of course in the Nolan Bat-verse during the non-Batman years between <i>The Dark Knight</i> and <i>Rises</i>. <p>Now as a staffer pointed out during discussion of this countdown, “that world is closed.” But the retort was, “we thought that about the Star Wars a couple of times now, haven’t we?” <p>So instead of the much-debated Joseph Gordon-Levitt Robin/Nightwing/Batman legacy solo feature, Warner Bros. could continue to alternately exploit and honor Christopher Nolan’s creation by exploring how Selena Kyle became the superior cat burglar who could hang with the Dark Knight and why she wanted so badly to get away from her still-mysterious past. <p>The reason this works is Catwoman remains ones comic books more complex and ambiguous (i.e. interesting) characters, already so well reflected by Nolan and Hathaway. <p>C’mon, <b>Catwoman Begins</b> has a ring to it, doesn’t it?

CAPTAIN MARVEL

Carol Danvers grew up tough. Dismissed by a father who had little faith in the achievements of women, Carol joined the Air Force and later ran security at a NASA facility. There, she met Captain Mar-Vell, an alien warrior of the Kree Empire. "Captain Marvel" and Carol shared many adventures together and then an encounter with alien technology wound up giving her powers. With incredible strength, resistance to injury, flight, and the ability to manipulate light and deliver devastating energy blasts, Carol became Ms. Marvel. Since then, she's been a formidable hero, combining super-powers with military training and operating by a code of ethics that is harsher than many other costumed crime-fighters. She's been a hero both on Earth and in the outer reaches of space and has worked alongside both the X-Men and the Avengers. She even wound up inheriting the title of Captain Marvel, and has direct connections to virtually everyone in the Marvel Cinematic Universe - she's even joining the Guardians of the Galaxy in comics for new adventures in 2014. <p>Not all women heroes are martial artists or spies. Carol Danvers is someone who can give Superman a good fight and that's a kind of lady even the X-Men films really haven't shown (other than Dark Phoenix, but that movie stunk, let's face it). Imagine if Ellen Ripley or Starbuck had super-powers. This film would be that kind of cool. You wouldn't even have to spend any time showing Captain Mar-Vell in the beginning of the flick. You could introduce Carol as already operating as Captain Marvel and have her explain briefly to a friend how she got this way. Then Mar-Vell could show up in a prequel (Hollywood loves prequels).

BIRDS OF PREY

It began when Barbara Gordon lost the use of her legs, ending her career as Batgirl. Rather than be defeated, she became Oracle, information broker to superheroes and hacker extraordinaire. And then Oracle decided to be a world-wide troubleshooter, guiding agents to take down strange criminals just outside the view of the authorities and most superheroes. Enter the Birds of Prey. With heroes like Black Canary, Huntress, Lady Blackhawk, Gypsy and others, the Birds of Prey is an organization that usually involves an all-women roster and shows just how deadly the ladies of the DC Universe can be. Recently, the group is reforming without Oracle (who is once again Batgirl) and are featured in a new <b>Birds of Prey</b> comic series. Batgirl is your in - the fact that Huntress and Black Canary have both appeared on TV's <i>Arrow</i> is your cherry. <p>Forget the strange TV series from 9 years ago. <b>Charlie's Angels</b> has shown that a film featuring a team of women can be successful. Now kick up the danger by placing these women in a superhero world and giving some of them powers. How cool would the Angels have been if one of them could have delivered sonic cries capable of shattering concrete and another was a time-lost World War II hero who was still fighting evil in the modern world? And with a large cast of characters that can change depending on the mission, you have lot of possibilities to explore with a franchise.

WONDER WOMAN

Was there any doubt? But the fact that it's the obvious choice (we even did a <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/film/10-least-likely-comic-book-movies-110809.html>Countdown about 10 Unlikely Comic Movies</a> that have happened in lieu of Wonder Woman) only makes it more important to mention. In the past 24 years, Batman has been the star of seven live-action theatrical films (and an eighth big-screen appearance coming in 2015), one animated theatrical film, about 10 direct-to-DVD animated films (with another one coming next year), and has starred in four of his own cartoon shows. <p>In the past 24 years, Wonder Woman has had one direct-to-DVD film (which was actually the fourth best-selling animated movie for DC/WB), no cartoon shows where she was the main star, no theatrical films, and a failed pilot. We get that Batman is fantastic and has a huge fan base (we also love him), but let's spread the love, Warner Bros. <p>Diana is a princess of Themyscira, a colony of Amazon warriors who have lived secretly apart from the rest of the world, their island home hidden by the gods of Greek myth. But circumstances convince them to send an envoy into "Patriarch's World", a warrior who represents their great fighting prowess but who can also act as a teacher and ambassador. Diana is that warrior, with power rivaling that of Superman and a warrior's spirit equal to Batman. This is a lady who will use a sword as easily as she does her famous lasso and if she has to behead a monster or three along the way, that's just fine. Hollywood keeps delving into mythology and demonic creatures with the <i>Harry Potter</i> series and recent films featuring Greek gods. <i>Thor</i> showed that a modern day story of mythological figures can work. Diana deserves a serious turn on the silver screen. <p>She's going to play backup to Superman and Batman, and be a member of the Justice League, but please, oh please, let her have her own moment in the spotlight, too.

10 Female Superhero Movies the Studios Need to Step Up and Make

Date: 23 January 2014 Time: 06:00 PM ET