Girls Just Wanna Kick Supervillain Butt1 of 12Tonight, Supergirl finally premieres on CBS. And while the pilot has gotten solid early reviews, the show’s importance goes beyond whether it’s good or not (spoiler alert – it is!). With a notable lack of representation for women in headlining superhero roles, it’s heartening to see the care and attention that’s been paid to making Kara Zor-El a faithful and endearing adaptation of the character from the pages of DC Comics.
Still, while Supergirl is an important step in the right direction, what fans are really clamoring for are feature films with female superheroes in the marquis position. Female demographics make up an increasing swath of the audience for superhero films and shows, and yet the characters remain mostly in supporting roles. This is set to change when Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel get their due in the next few years, and at least Wasp will share top billing in the Ant-Man sequel, but the fact remains that there’s a hole in the market that can (and should) be filled by female heroes.
So here are our picks 10 films that could fill that niche; And studios? We don’t want to hear any more excuses or half answers, we just want progress and announcements.
George Marston, Lucas Siegel and Michael Doran contributed to an updated version of this article.
SPIDER-WOMAN2 of 12In 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 Captain America: The First Avenger). 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. 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.
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. And now that Marvel and Sony have reached an agreement to bring Spider-Man into the MCU, a Spider-Woman movie is more possible than ever.
DANGER GIRL3 of 12While Danger Girl’s most popular comic book days are behind them (those would be the original J. Scott Campbell years) the big screen zeitgeist has somewhat caught up with the original spirit of the late 90s series.
Think James Bond (never more popular) meets Furious 7 (also never more popular) with a dash of that high-adventure Indiana Jones influence so apparent in the original series, but a little less tongue-in-cheek than Charlie’s Angels.
We’re on the cusp of perhaps a golden age of female-oriented actions heroes (raise your hand if you think Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel will bust through the door Lara Croft, Black Widow and Lucy already started kicking in?) and Danger Girl could provide a slightly different look than most of the more traditional costumed superheroes in our countdown.
CASSIE HACK4 of 12Cassie 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.
When Buffy the Vampire Slayer 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 Hack/Slash 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.
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.
Of course, Hack/Slash is now in development as a TV series, so Cassie may make it to some screen sooner, rather than later.
ZATANNA5 of 12Zatanna 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.
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.
After all, she looks much better in fishnets!
DEATH6 of 12Talk of a Death feature film has been on the lips of movie studios for years now, with no projects coming to fruition, with even big name directors like Guillermo del Toro having had their hands on the property at times. So what's different now?
Well, for one thing, a new Sandman film is in the works at the hands of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, placing the Endless front and center for an entire universe of films.
And, with numerous iconic stories like Death: The Time of Your Life and Death: The High Cost of Living providing grist for the mill, Death is more uniquely poised for spin-offs than any other member of Morpheus's supernatural coterie.
HARLEY QUINN7 of 12Harley Quinn’s popularity is arguably at its zenith right at this moment, with not one but two headlining series and a central role in the upcoming Suicide Squad under her belt. And why not? The clown princess of crime has been a fan favorite since her debut on Batman: The Animated Series.
Which is all the more reason for Warner Bros. to consider branching Harley into her own feature film. While Margot Robbie’s Harley in Suicide Squad looks more deadly than wacky, bringing in some of her slapstick elements could make for a nice contrast to DC’s grimdark film oeuvre.
If Suicide Squad goes well, Harley Quinn could be a shoo-in for breaking out into her own movie. Throw in Jared Leto’s Joker, and maybe a cameo from Batman himself, and you’ve got the makings of a perfect addition to WB’s post-Nolan Bat-verse.
BLACK CAT8 of 12Felicia Hardy found her way onto the big screen in Sony's ill-fated Amazing Spider-Man 2, though she never got the opportunity to suit up as her slinky alter ego the Black Cat.
But now that Spider-Man is getting another reboot - this time at the hands of Marvel themselves - there's no doubt they'll be on the lookout for new villains to fill up the screen.
And of course, there's more potential than just a guest-appearance for Black Cat. As a master burglar with supernatural luck, Black Cat has a vibe that's half James Bond, half superheroine. And Sony is still reportedly on the hunt for a female Spidey spin-off - a role Black Cat is uniquely poised to fill.
CATWOMAN9 of 12Okay, yeah, the notion of a Catwoman solo movie after the 2004 Halle Berry stinker probably seems unfathomable, but as our own Vaneta Rogers astutely points out, the problem with that movie was that movie and not some inherent problem with Catwoman.
So here’s the pitch: Anne Hathaway reprises her role in a prequel to The Dark Knight Rises, set of course in the Nolan Bat-verse during the non-Batman years between The Dark Knight and Rises.
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?”
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.
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.
C’mon, Catwoman Begins has a ring to it, doesn’t it?
BIRDS OF PREY10 of 12It 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. Batgirl is your in - the fact that Huntress and Black Canary have both appeared on TV's Arrow is your cherry.
Forget the strange TV series from years ago. Charlie's Angels 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.
BLACK WIDOW11 of 12This one is a no-brainer, folks. She's been in most all of Marvel Studios' movies, with a major role in both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron, which let Black Widow show her stuff more than ever.
It doesn’t hurt that Scarlett Johansson is hot right now.
Her recent solo film Lucy won the opening weekend, beating out Hercules and The Rock, arguably one of the biggest movie stars in the world.
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 - and who knows? Maybe one of those three unnamed films added to the Phase 3 roster earlier this month will turn out to be the Black Widow feature we've all been clamoring for.
1 of 12
2 of 12
3 of 12
4 of 12
5 of 12
6 of 12
7 of 12
8 of 12
9 of 12
10 of 12
11 of 12
12 of 12