I’ve gone on at length about DC and how they handle their female characters but if there’s one thing I can say they have (for better or worse) that Marvel doesn’t, it’s famous women.
I’ve always found it odd that Marvel doesn’t really have any standout female characters and perhaps that’s one of the reasons I was drawn to DC as a young girl. In fact, I didn’t really know of any female characters from Marvel outside of the X-Men until much later in life (unless you counted Mary Jane). But look at DC. If you asked someone to name a few of their female characters you’d at least hear Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl and Catwoman. DC’s women haven’t made great transitions outside of comics yet but considering how Marvel has been doing in the film arena lately, I think this is something they need to consider.
Last year there was a big push for the “Women of Marvel” but it seems like next year is the year of Marvel Men. The recent cancelation of X-23 (A female solo book written by a prominent, talented female writer) may be part of a bigger overhaul within their line but it’s indicative of a larger problem with the Marvel brand itself. Let’s take a look at a few things. After February, Ghost Rider will be the only female character with a solo book and that’s not even a definite at this point. The Wasp was the only female team member for the entire first season of The Avengers animated series while Black Widow is the only one that made it onto The Avengers live-action film team [Newsarama Note: Agent Maria Hill, while a S.H.I.E.L.D. liaison to the team, doesn’t appear to be a full-fledged member]. Why?
Why isn’t Marvel making a bigger push so their female characters become famous? Black Widow was an obvious choice for The Avengers because she co-starred in Iron Man 2 but does anyone really see that character/actress having a successful spin-off solo film? Marvel spent a great deal of time introducing audiences to Thor and Captain America before they did their big team movie, why didn’t they introduce another female Avenger first too? Even if they didn’t think one would work as a solo film pre-Avengers, they certainly could have helped introduce/make a star out of someone like Scarlet Witch (who granted, as a mutant may be tied up in the X-Men license with Fox), She-Hulk or Ms. Marvel. Which brings me to my next point – you have the power to sell these characters. Do it. Now here are a few ideas to get you started.
If you had to make a comparison, Ms. Marvel is basically Marvel’s Wonder Woman, right? She’s a mega powerhouse and has held a spot on the company’s big team. So why not give her a massive push, not just in the comics, but in your films? She may not have the name recognition Wonder Woman does but you can go a long way in giving her that (and of course Wonder Woman hasn’t had her own film, so you could beat her to the punch). And you know what would be really cool? Start calling her Captain Marvel instead. They’ve done it in an alternate reality, but it would be a bold move to give her that moniker permanently. Plus, she’s actually connected to the original Captain Marvel, the Kree soldier Mar-Vell. Carol Danvers is an attention-grabbing character with lots of backstory to feed off of and I think a lot of people would be interested in her story.
Another Marvel heroine who could absolutely make a big splash with fans is Sif. And you’re already a step ahead there since we were introduced to her in Thor a (albeit small) role she was pretty spectacular in. Sif would make for a much more entertaining solo film than Black Widow if you had to choose, carrying her own weight as a warrior with a breadth of Norse myths to draw stories from. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston could co-star, but give her a chance at her own film! Jaimie Alexander is one of those leading ladies you’ve been looking for.
You know why Twilight star Kristen Stewart is being asked to star in the Akira adaptation? Because Twilight makes a buttload of money and they know the actress is one of the reasons. Hear me out before you groan. If Marvel looked at that model and presented someone like Anya Corazon, Spider-Girl to the world with an actress teenagers are already nuts about, you’d open up a huge demographic to the comic world. Did they try to do that? No, Marvel rebooted Spider-Man instead. It may turn out to be a cool movie but really, did we need another Spider-Man so soon? [Newsarama Note: Yes, we know that was more Sony’s doing, the current owners of the license, than Marvel’s, but the point remains]
Let’s not forget the X-Men characters I mentioned earlier. Storm has been seen in the X-Men films so even if they aren’t comic readers, audiences know who she is. Forget about Halle Berry, cast a rising star to make something really special out of this character. I’d nominate Gugu Mbatha-Raw in a second (her father is actually South African and descends from the Zulu tribe). Making a Storm film and giving the character a new solo book would go a long way not just to promote female characters but minority characters as well.
And then there’s X-23. Can we just un-cancel her book? That was a really weird move considering her sales were better than several other titles still running.
Marvel has strong, dynamic female characters. Utilize them! Branch out! I have no idea why they aren’t as famous as the women of DC Comics but the biggest factor that comes to mind is marketing. Marvel is killing with their films lately and has a huge opportunity to do something great with them that could coincide with new comic series as well. A lot of these choices seem like no-brainers to me, am I missing something or does Marvel want to stay a boys club forever?