Girls kick ass, it says so on the t-shirt
Over at Banana Oil there’s a great post entitled “Where’s Wonder Woman?” looking at the glut of superhero movies…and the complete lack of real female characters in them. This is one case where you can’t blame the largely 20-45 age range male writing teams at Marvel, DC and Image. Yeah Hollywood, they gave you incredible source material….it’s your fault you don’t know what to do with an Oracle, Jenny Sparks or Jean Grey. It’s like they looked at the pictures, but didn’t actually READ the books. Yes, there are words. And characters. And conflict. It’s not just about a pretty face in a skintight suit. But apparently when it comes to casting, that’s what they’re going for, because the script is dictating that’s all they need. The movies are centered around the male characters, even the third X-Men (which I thought was atrocious). In theory it was about the return of Jean as Dark Phoenix. That was theory only. I will argue with Banana Oil’s statement that she “got a chance to shine”. With what dialogue? She had a minor role in the film and if you had to count her lines they’d probably come in at less than Archangel’s.
Emma Frost, who in the books is a “love or hate her” girl (ahem..woman) and the counterpart to Jean, has the intelligence and ambition to rival any of the male characters. Scratch that – she doesn’t rival them, she beats them hands down, and that’s without taking her powers into consideration. But no one wants to see a movie about a tart wearing a merry widow and garters as a costume. They certainly don’t want to see it if she’s got a brain.
Would I? Don’t know. I’m wondering if my comic days are simply behind me. I love seeing when what I’ve read and loved has a visual to go along with it (Pride & Prejudice and Harry Potter two examples), but comics are already such a visual field that seeing it “in action” is almost superfluous. Seriously, you think you can film a better action scene that Bryan Hitch can pencil? (Ok, I’m crying uncle on one example here: “300”. Fucking amazing. I’d read it years ago, and still remember every SINGLE page…because they were burned into my retinas. Seeing it on screen was a revelation. But that won’t work with every adaptation.) Beyond simply trying to bring the action to the screen, can you bring the integral nature of the characters? Yes, in the case of Eric Lensherr. No for so many others, who sadly enough, tend to be female. Why is this possible with a book, Elizabeth Bennet and Hermione Granger come to mind, but not a comic book?
I’ll argue one more point, if I may: it takes years, YEARS, to develop characters and story lines in comics. Sometimes it takes years to get to know a character. One well spent afternoon can make you fall in love with Elizabeth Bennet, but it will take you ten times that long to even begin to understand Emma’s machinations. It might be due to the nature of the medium or of the industry (and while it is an art, it is also an industry).
Maybe scriptwriters and casting agents just don’t want to take the time. That’s a shame, ’cause girls kick ass. It says so on the t-shirt.