<i>By <a href=http://twitter.com/sizzlerkistler>Alan Kistler, Newsarama Contributor</a></i> <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>So where are the superhero movies featuring the powerful women of comics? I don't mean Storm and Rogue, they've been seen already in X-Men films. And I don't mean characters like the Invisible Woman who don't seem right unless they're accompanied by their whole team. I mean the ladies who can hold their own film franchise if given a chance. We had the Supergirl movie 27 years ago. The abysmal Catwoman film was in 2004 and the lackluster Elektra film was in 2005 and since then... what? What have we had? Black Widow helping Iron Man? That's not enough! <p>So here are 10 films that need to happen. Please note, there are obviously other female heroes that also deserve their own movies, such as Mockingbird and Batwoman. This isn't the ultimate/definitive top 10 list. These are just 10 picks and why they would be fun to see! <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i>
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 recent 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.
Renee Montoya was a cop in Gotham City for years. An occasional ally to Batman, she later left the force, falling into a self-destructive cycle after losing her partner. Soon afterward, she was found by Vic Sage, a vigilante who wore a featureless flesh mask and was known as The Question. Vic recruited Renee as his partner and protege, revealing later that he was dying of cancer and needed a successor. After his death, Renee donned the same flesh mask and now operates as the new Question, hunting down corrupt elements that escape the notice of the police. <p>It's not often Hollywood delivers a gritty noir detective story where the detective is a woman and Rene would stand out from other superhero films. Like Batman, she doesn't have superpowers, relying on martial arts and detective skill. Unlike Bruce Wayne, she doesn't have a fortune to spend on gadgets nor does she have a strict code of behavior. She's a more grounded, down-to-Earth character who just wears a shirt, hat and jacket, the only "costume" element being the creepy mask that makes it look as if she has no face. This could surprise a lot of people who may expect that all superhero women are ninjas or spies in leather catsuits. <p>You could also play with the fact that she is not the first Question. Open the door for a prequel or feature Vic in flashbacks.
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 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 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 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.
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?
According to the legends of Ghana, there once lived Anansi the spider who masqueraded as a man, owner of the world's stories, a trickster who walked between the world of humans and magic. In DC Comics, Anansi was real and whether he was a creature of magic or an alien who inspired myth, he created a totem for a warrior named Tantu. A person holding it could adopt the abilities and strengths of any animal they named. Over the centuries, the totem passed through Tantu's descendants, finally coming into possession of Reverend Richard Jiwe until he was killed and had it stolen from him. Years later, his daughter Mari Jiwe McCabe returned to Africa to bring her father's killer to justice. Now owning the Tantu Totem, she operates as Vixen, acting as a superhero both on her own and sometimes as a member of the Justice League. <p>Part of the appeal of characters like Iron Man is wish fulfillment fantasy. Not only is he an armored hero, he's insanely rich and charismatic. Vixen hits some of the same notes. She's a superhero but she's also a fashion model, one who's accustomed to classy parties with influential people. She's smart, witty and tough and she exudes confidence (she doesn't even bother with a secret identity). On top of that, how cool would it be to see a lady on screen simply smile and say "rhino" before tearing through five thugs with the strength of a rhinoceros? Or who says "cheetah" and suddenly has claws, fangs and can move at 60 mph? It would be insane to see this international hero in a fight on the big screen.
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. <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 Ms. 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). <p>But while we're at it, can we just call her Captain Marvel now instead of Ms. Marvel? She's outlived Mar-Vell by a couple decades now. No one else in the Marvel Universe is using that title and she's earned it.
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. <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.
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</a> about 10 Unlikely Comic Movies</a> that have happened in lieu of Wonder Woman) only makes it more important to mention. In the past 22 years, Batman has been the star of six live-action theatrical films (and a seventh coming next year), one animated theatrical film, about a half dozen direct-to-DVD animated films (with another one coming in a few months), and has starred in three of his own cartoon shows with another one coming up. In the past 22 years, Wonder Woman has had one direct-to-DVD film, no cartoon shows where she was the main star, no theatrical films, and a failed pilot. I get that Batman is fantastic and has a huge fan base (I 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>Find yourself the right actress and director, and this lady could inspire both introspective thought and loud cheers as she considers the nature of man and takes down armies of demons in the same hour.