It definitely feels like the winds of change are coming for women superheroes since Wonder Woman proved that a woman-directed, woman-led superhero film could, in fact, be more than just a token element among an army of white, male action heroes. They’re being taken slightly more seriously since they’re being treated with care. As Tim said in his review, “…it seems clear that at least part of why it’s so good is that [Patty] Jenkins clearly takes the privilege and responsibility of making the first-ever Wonder Woman feature film extremely seriously…”
This has given every hesitant male producer (who have blamed diversity and female heroes for low sales) the tentative confidence that box office magic can be built upon the shoulders of lady heroes not flanked by a larger number of leading men.
We’re seeing spin-offs like Dark Phoenix, Captain Marvel, the female-centric DC film led by Harley Quinn tentatively titled Birds of Prey, Batgirl, Kitty Pryde, the potential Tessa Thompson-led all-female MCU film, and of course, the long-awaited Black Widow solo film. While this is excellent news, it does leave something to be desired in terms of diversity.
Is anyone really longing for a Black Widow movie at this point, after lo this many MCU movies featuring her? There are so many diverse and vibrant characters waiting to be introduced who aren’t quite as tired and ready for retirement as our long-suffering Widow. I know we’ve potentially got Ms. Marvel aka Kamala Khan’s book-to-screen debut coming, but we can do more, right?
Here are a few superhero ladies who are ripe for adaptation onto the big screen…
Valiant Comics’ Faith
Faith is one of Valiant Comic’s newest superheroes, at least as a solo title. She’s written by a woman, Jody Houser (Orphan Black), and is a geeky blogger by day and psionically gifted hero by night. Oh, and she’s fat. But guess what isn’t a big deal — THAT. While Houser says they will ultimately be addressing it within the plot somehow, she isn’t a “plus-sized superhero,” she’s a superhero who happens to be plus-sized.
There are very few examples of fat representation that don’t merely devolve into easy stereotypes, and Faith has so much potential to bring some much-needed representation to one of the most easily maligned subsets of people.
Even one of my favorite comic book characters, Wonder Woman’s Etta Candy, is quite literally a candy-eating hero who uses her love of chocolate to take down the baddies. She’s a walking cliche, but at least she has tons of self esteem, holds her own in a man’s world, and fights Nazis. Still, pathbreaking representation for people of size is sorely needed. The best news? It looks like Sony is already in development with Escape Room writer Maria Melnik at the helm. Fingers crossed.
Black Panther’s Shuri
The gimme, in my opinion. Followed closely by leader of the Dora Milaje, Okoye. Nobody can deny that Danai Gurira’s badass and powerfully bald and beautiful Okoye gives any little kid chills. Hell, it gave most of us chills. Children of all genders can find a piece of themselves in her grace, strength, and, let’s face it, fashion sense. She’s a warrior with panache.
So why did I pick the teenage super genius princess of Wakanda for a solo flick? While we definitely need to be empowering young girls to be strong and fierce and independent, we MUST be empowering them to embrace their mighty brain power above all. Women are slowly finding more space within STEM/STEAM careers but it’ll take far more integration in pop culture and discourse to affect real change and the social conditioning for women to downplay their talents in male dominated fields, if they feel welcome in them at all.
Shuri’s commanding presence in Black Panther as the go-to leader of all things technology, science, confidence, and snark, belie her youth and normalize skill > perception.
It’s also relatively easy to find physically capable women in media these days (see: Wonder Woman, Kick-Ass’s Hit-Girl, Imperator Furiosa, Katniss Everdeen, and Laura/X-23 from Logan), but super smart and in-charge ladies who aren’t supporting a male contemporary are harder to find.
And while we’re at it, maybe cast Danai Gurira in something in which she doesn’t always have to kick ass. Cast that gorgeous lady in a rom-com as the romantic lead. Now that would be something new.
Echo aka Ronin aka Maya Lopez, is a recurring character in the Daredevil comics who is both a Native American woman of color AND a deaf person. Due to her deafness, she has fast reflexes and the ability to replicate other’s movements including fight style, but it hinders her in the dark. We’ve already seen blind character Daredevil hit both small and big screens and maybe it’s time for Echo to get a little on-screen love.
Marvel’s America Chavez
On the comic book side, and despite an overwhelming majority of white, male writers on staff at Marvel, they’re busting out a lot of diversity in terms of gender, sexual orientation, and race. Translating these to film is the larger hurdle in a lot of cases. One of these new characters is a lesbian Latina character named America Chavez, written by Gabby Rivera, a lesbian Latina young adult novelist. Seems like a rad fit.
As a member of The Ultimates — nay, their leader — she defends the Earth while heading to college at the same time. Score.
The indie darling with which so many of us are obsessed, myself included, brings so many amazingly diverse and intriguing characters. But Izabel, who debuted in issue two, is a fearless ghost girl permanently youthful due to dying by landmine as a teenager. She’s perpetually the mouthy teenager of her makeshift family.
Although it’s unlikely we’d see her as a solo star of a film franchise, a Saga movie that featured her prominently would be a dream for a lot of us. But as Saga is from Image Comics and not part of one of the movie-making behemoths, a movie isn’t likely in any form at present. Considering its popularity, however, I remain hopeful.
Which powerful characters are you rooting to get their own film? Have any of these ladies been added to your list?
Catherine Clark is a Chicago-based editor and designer who spends time reading, gaming, cooking, and of course, watching movies en masse. You can find her words and work at USA Today, Nerd Wallet, Chicago Tribune, NPR, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, MSN, Offbeat Empire, and on her lifestyle blog, BijouxandBits.com.