Why Are Female Superhero Films Only Prequels?
The first trailers for the next two giant superhero movies have dropped. DC and Marvel are both finally on the same page and backing female characters with female directors. Black Widow and WW84 look to be big successes for the genre. However there is another similarity between the two blockbusters I noticed… they’re both prequels. This is something that is turning into a pattern for women lead solo superhero films. The first Wonder Woman movie was set in the 1910’s and Captain Marvel was set in the 1990’s. Best case, likely this is just a coincidence. However the far worst case is that these companies are basically saying woman superhero movies aren’t allowed to have any meaningful impact in the larger cinematic universes they are based in.
WW84: The Sequel Prequel
Wonder Woman is arguably the greatest weapon in the DC arsonal. Batman and Superman have been ruined in the public eye thanks to Zack Snyder. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman in 2018 was a box office smash, especially seeings how it was the first female superhero movie with any level of success in the modern Hollywood climate. There was already a few questions concerning it being a prequel but it made sense in the context of the movie as well as the character’s place in the DCEU. However with WW84, this prequel/sequel doesn’t need to happen in the 80’s. Firstly it actually creates a few inconsistencies in the character’s established story. Secondly, I still haven’t heard an actual reason for it. Patty Jenkins talked about it “But the ’80s is a period that Wonder Woman is quite synonymous with. So it was great to see her there.” and “it’s sort of the height of Western civilization and the success of the world that we all live in in the aftermath of now” which isn’t a concrete enough reason for the audience. The character is established and we want to see her move forward in her development.
My hot take- The DCEU is in a lot of uncertainty with these reboots and recasts. The executives at Warner Brothers aren’t trusting Patty to establish the universe; she’s only allowed to make a one off film. Aquaman and Shazam also weren’t allowed to make bold waves in the DCEU but at least they did set the stage for what the universe is like after Justice League. This is why DC is losing the comic movie wars. Marvel, with all their problems, trust their creators. Jon Favreau, Taika Waititi, and The Russo Brothers were allowed to make major changes to the timeline and it worked. Patty Jenkins, after the success of Wonder Woman should have been allowed to create a movie that defines the future of the DCEU. But she is only trusted to make a movie where we know nothing will affect the universe before Man of Steel.
Black Widow: The Oddly Placed Origin Story
Black Widow is a character that existed in several other movies, starting in Iron Man 2 but having a role in every major event in the MCU. She finally is getting her own solo movie after years of fan demands. Unfortunately we are getting it right after a movie where she just died. This film is set to take place between ‘Captain America: Civil War’ and ‘Avengers: Infinity War.’ What makes the movie release even more peculiar is how it is be the first movie in the MCU’s “Phase 4.” I find it hard to believe that the first film meant to showcase the cinematic universe’s future… is set in the past.
My hot take- Marvel fucked up. This movie was supposed to take place in the time period it was set and be released in the year 2017 (actually between CA:CW and A:IW). The three movies released in 2017 were ‘Thor: Ragnorok’, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’, and ‘Spiderman: Homecoming’. Thor and Guardian’s were guaranteed hits out the door, so when the Sony deal happened, and Disney needed to make room, the female lead movie got the boot. After Age of Ultron, Fiege said they were beginning the pre-development for a Black Widow solo film in 2014. In 2016 Joss Whedon claimed to be attached to the project, but then he got MeToo’d and obviously shouldn’t have been part of the first female Marvel movie. After Captain Marvel came out, they had the proof needed that a woman in a movie can actually make money, but by them the wheels of fate were already roling to get her killed. Now they’re stuck releasing the movie a few years late and giving the audience confusion.
But What About Birds of Prey?
The actual flaw to my theory about female movies is the DC film ‘Birds of Prey.’ This movie won’t only star a single female lead but several. I love the fact that it actually is more of an alt-Avengers style movie full of female comic book characters. I have some issues with this movie, but they really are just the fact that I like Black Canary and Huntress and hope they don’t take too much of a back seat to Harley Quinn. But my point is how this movie takes place after the events of ‘Suicide Squad’ and it appears to actually affect the characters and the DC cinematic universe moving forward. Then again they also just had a ‘Joker’ movie that didn’t even star Jared Leto that is apparently getting a sequel so what the fuck does it even matter.
Like I said, this is probably just a coincidence. If you know me, you know I don’t believe in feminist agendas, systemic sexist oppression, or any of the political stuff. But I do think that prequels are cop-outs in general. No matter the franchise (Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc.) the prequels have a fundamental flaw of the audience knowing where the story will be. It’s lame that Black Widow and Wonder Woman are beloved characters whose movies won’t have major impact. We know Natasha Romanoff won’t die until ‘Avengers: Endgame.’ We know Steve Trevor isn’t around for ‘Dawn of Justice.’ This was something I noticed with ‘Captain Marvel’, there’s just no need to make it a prequel. Let these characters have as much say in the events of the universe as any other the other movies. Or at the very least, don’t hinder Patty Jenkins, Cate Shortland, Anne Bodon, Cathy Yan, or any other female director working in these established cinematic franchises.
News read and conspiracy unravelled by: Troy Smith