Posted on Saturday, August 2nd, 2014 by Angie Han
This weekend’s Guardians of the Galaxy is the tenth(!) entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it offers up a whole bunch of things we’ve never seen before in the MCU including a walking tree, a talking raccoon, and a one-sided dance-off. But one thing it still doesn’t offer? A lead female superhero.
Over the past few months, Kevin Feige has been fielding more and more questions about whether Marvel Studios might release a female superhero movie. Rumors of a Captain Marvel or Black Widow movie have come and gone. And through it all, Feige’s maintained the same wishy-washy stance.
In his latest interview, he says he “hopes” Marvel will offer a female lead “sooner rather than later.” It’s just that Marvel is just really busy right now. Read Feige’s comments about a Marvel female superhero film after the jump.
Comic Book Resources asked Feige “how close” we were to a Marvel movie with a female lead. Here’s his response.
I think you’re right about that, and I think it comes down to timing, which is what I’ve sort of always said, and it comes down to us being able to tell the right story. I very much believe in doing it. I very much believe that it’s unfair to say, “People don’t want to see movies with female heroes,” then list five movies that were not very good, therefore, people didn’t go to the movies because they weren’t good movies, versus [because] they were female leads. And they don’t mention “Hunger Games,” “Frozen,” “Divergent.” You can go back to “Kill Bill” or “Aliens.” These are all female-led movies. It can certainly be done. I hope we do it sooner rather than later. But we find ourselves in the very strange position of managing more franchises than most people have — which is a very, very good thing and we don’t take for granted, but is a challenging thing. You may notice from those release dates, we have three for 2017. And that’s because just the timing worked on what was sort of gearing up. But it does mean you have to put one franchise on hold for three or four years in order to introduce a new one? I don’t know. Those are the kinds of chess matches we’re playing right now.
Look, I don’t doubt that juggling multiple billion-dollar franchises is a very, very difficult task. Nor do I deny that Marvel’s upcoming slate is crowded as is. But the reasoning doesn’t quite add up. After all, it’s not like they had to put the Captain America series on hold to make Guardians of the Galaxy happen, and it’s not like any of these issues have stopped them from trying to get Ant-Man and Doctor Strange off the ground.
An Incomplete History of Kevin Feige Dodging the Marvel Female Superhero Question
The explanation makes more sense when you see it for what it is: Feige’s latest half-hearted excuse for Marvel’s lack of female superhero movies. Here are some of the others he’s tried to pass off over the past couple of years…
July 2014: Marvel refuses to be “swayed by the backlash.” Also, the comics already have diversity covered.
Well, yes. I don’t think J.J. Abrams or the ‘Star Wars’ people — I have no idea — but my guess is that they were not swayed by any backlash. We’re not going to be swayed by the backlash. We’re going to keep bringing the movies out the way we envision it and the way we believe in it — and that includes diversity in all of the active films. And certainly, on our development slate of many of the characters — some of which you just named — and always being conscious of that. The great thing for us is the comics have been conscious of that through the decades and have been rather pioneering in that over the years.
April 2014: Captain America: The Winter Soldier is practically a Black Widow movie anyway.
But people would ask me on the floor of the Thor: The Dark World junket, “Are you’re doing a Black Widow movie?” And part of me wanted to say, “Well, we did, and it’s called Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Wait until you see it!” The emphasis we put on our characters, and in particular our female leads in all our movies, is very important to us. And showcase extremely strong, intelligent woman that control the course of the entire movie and the entire plot, and that absolutely carries over into Scarlett’s role in Age of Ultron.
March 2014: Marvel won’t get “credit” for launching a female superhero.
Frankly if we do a Black Widow movie after Age of Ultron, when she’s been central in three or four movies I don’t think we’d get the quote unquote credit for it. People would say ‘She’s already a big giant superhero!’
October 2013: Marvel already has lots of female characters.
I know we have numerous exciting female heroes, whether none of them are currently slated, some of them are in development — frankly, you can look at what Jane Foster does in [Thor: The Dark World], look at Pepper Potts literally saving the day and defeating the bad guy in Iron Man 3, and I’d say we already have great female heroes that are showcased and play major roles in our universe now. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as you will see, features Black Widow in her biggest role yet in any of our films.
May 2013: It’s just not the right time.
We have a number of candidates from the comics and from the movies we’ve already made. It’s just a matter of finding the right storyline, the right filmmaker, the right time.
April 2012: The Avengers was practically a Black Widow movie anyway.
I think you saw it in Avengers. I think that’s one of the many amazing things Joss Whedon can do. I think people are going to be surprised by how powerful Scarlett is in this movie, and how evolved her role is.
Taken individually, any of these excuses makes perfect sense. Black Widow is already a great character, with or without her own movie, and she does have prominent roles The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It does make sense to wait for the right filmmaker, the right character, and the right time, rather than rush out a half-assed movie to placate the fans.
But taken together, the pattern becomes clear. Feige doesn’t have any real drive to make a female superhero movie, even if he’s not willing to come out and say it. Or at least that’s how it looks to me. Believe me, I’d love to be proven wrong on that front.
I’d love if, say, Marvel gave the Thor mantle to a woman after Chris Hemsworth’s contract was up — just as the Thor mantle passed to a woman in the comics. Considering that Marvel has their films plotted out through like 2028, it’s certainly possible they’re looking to go in that direction eventually.
I’m not suggesting Feige is willfully sexist, or that he would never ever consider a female superhero movie. Indeed, Marvel does have some lead women — just not in the movies. There’s Skye in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Marvel Studios has concrete plans to debut Agent Carter and Jessica Jones series.
However, this is the same studio that decided it was going to throw Star-Lord, Ant-Man, and Doctor Strange onto the silver screen and turn them into household names. It’s the same studio that’s already turned Iron Man into a pop culture icon on par with Batman and Spider-Man.
If Feige (and the rest of Marvel) thought it was important to kickstart a female superhero film franchise, they’d find a way to make it happen. They apparently don’t. And sure, to be fair, it’s not like their rivals at Warner Bros., Fox, or Sony have been much better on that front. It’s just frustrating to get fed the same nonsense again and again.
It’s nice to hear Feige understands women can lead big-budget franchises, and it’s nice to hear him say he “hopes” Marvel will get to launch one soon. (As if he has no say in the matter.) But it’s not enough. I’d rather see him stop talking about it, and start putting his money where his mouth is.