The movie industry has had a complex connection with female roles. If you are a longtime fan of superhero films, you obviously might have observed how poorly women superheroes are handled on screen. Some of the most liked female characters have been either thrust into minor roles in superhero films or, at worst, made headlines in worst movies in the previous two decades (Walters, 2011). They are very often overly-sexualized, dehumanized unreasonably, stigmatized, and are used as tokens. Why the prejudice? The response lies in stereotypes of sex and cultural reasons.
There is definitely a gender problem as well as how society treats males and females unequally. The display of characters in the media as superheroes, has been oriented towards the concept that males are stronger physically than females, hence the guardians of the fragile (Cocca, 2016). Girls and women are depicted as actors, not practicing in professional settings, are also not representatives of their own life but simply assistants for others, and are almost always not even involved at all, which serves to reinforce or promote societal undervaluing of women and girls. It has been a contentious problem since females are generally depicted as the victims to always be rescued by males in a superhero film.
Furthermore, women are also more twice as probable to be assigned names which make them appear weak, less dangerous, and less vigorous and in unequal footing with male actors. From the debut of the first female superhero, Wonder Woman, female’s representation has always been within the framework of gender prejudice (Dunne, 2006-2008). The assigned and acquired responsibilities that females usually held in post-WWII through the sixties, including wife, mum, and secretary, are almost reproduced in books and movies. Wonder Woman is an excellent illustration of a personality who has survived the ravages of time and continues to remain very well-known and cherished of all women comic book heroes. Irrespective of her earlier start as a powerful pseudo-stereotypical female personality, her physiological image, the storylines as well as the professional responsibilities available to her have been modified by the shifts between decades and authors.
Equally significant, most of the characterization around women characters not doing so well on movies places the fault on female actors despite the reality that the writers behind the films and shaping were predominantly male. The female actors have been used as a convenient excuse for the films ‘ structural and narrative issues. It is a clear double standard issue, given that stars like Ryan Reynolds, Chris Evans, Ben Affleck and lately Michael B. Jordan were offered second opportunities in comic book movies, despite the low performance of their prior starring turns.
So what does the future hold? According to Katey Rich of the entertainment website Cinema Blend, the best chance for the representation of women in superhero films and comic books lies in smaller comic book adaptations that have not yet fully demonstrated their worth but still have the capacity to get a lot sharper. Consequently, comic book fans may want to brush up on their understanding of otherwise well-known female protagonists while continuing the lengthy wait for Wonder Woman to reach the large screen.
Cocca, C. (2016). Superwomen: Gender, Power, and Representation. Bloomsbury Publishing.
Dunne, M. (2006‐2008). The Representation of Women in Comic Books, Post WWII. Portland State University McNair Scholars Online Journal Vol. 2, 81‐91.
Walters, S. (2011, June 1). What’s the Deal With Women Superheroes on Screen?. Retrieved June 26, 2019, from http://ezinearticles.com/?Whats-the-Deal-With-Women- Superheroes- n-Screen?&id=6318172