Saturday, March 7, 2009

Women in comic book movies


I've been reading comic books and graphic novels now for more than half my life.  
I love them and I think that they are over looked in main stream society.

In present times comic books and comic characters have become more accept - we can thank the summer "blockbuster" for that.  From Richard Donner "Superman" in 1978 to Zack Synder's "Watchmen" which opened on Friday - the genre of comics and superheroes are now a money making vehicle in Hollywood, so until the producers of Hollywood ram that genre into the ground and ultimately kill it, we will not be away from comic book heroes any time soon. 

But loving comics and loving comic book movies is the same as being from my generation and loving the Star Wars Saga of the late 70's early 80s and then putting up with Lucas' need to make the "first three" movies while destroying the joy that as part of my childhood.

I find that the translation from book to screen is muddled many a time.  The problem is a simple one.  Movies are made to make money so making a movie that will only cater to the comic book fanboys means the movie will tank - you have no choice but to broaden the horizons of the film letting in a much wider, much more ignorant, part of the audience.

OK - you see the word ignorant and now you think I'm being insulting, but I'm not.  It's just a fact.  It's like those people who told me the 2002 version of Count of Monte Cristo is a good film.  Have you read the book?  No.  Please don't talk to me.  Thank you.  
It's not a bad MOVIE but it's a bad representation of the book - a very watered down and stripped down version of a complex story that can't be contained in 2 hours - even when the acting really wasn't that bad. 

The same applies to comics and film.  Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, (gulp) Super Girl... Fanboys/girls have their opinions.  They've read the books.  They know the facts - and hardcore readers... stand back world!  

But like I said.  I get it.  I see both sides.

What I don't get are females in comic book movies.

Females introduction into comics were that of victims and a sex symbols.  This is not a shocking thing if you think about the fact that, back in the day - and I mean 1920s - 1930s, comic book writers also wrote Pulp Stories.  Or they started in Pulp and moved their way into the comic book field.  
When you look at stories like Nick Burns "Angel Face" which was originally printed in Black Mask in 1937 you see one of the strongest women characters to date and still she was beautiful, and she used her beauty and sexuality to further her cause.  And in the end, when SHE was the one that fingered the bad guys, the police didn't step in until the "bad guys" branded her.  I mean that in the literal sense.  Hot metal burning symbol into her skin.

So when Alan Moore's Watchmen came out in 1986 and he mocked the female superhero with his use of Silk Spectre or even her daughter Miss Jupiter (Silk Spectre II), I liked it.  I like it now.  I think it's truthful of females in comics, especially the time period he was concentrating on. 

But still, can't we have a character like Huntress without making her look like a jackass, hit the big screen?

The husband pointed out to me the stronger women characters in cartoons like "Justice League Unlimited," and he is right.  The writing on that cartoon was wonderful and the women held their own - and even comic book writers in this day and age are writing strong, smart female roles in their books.  Look at Buffy or The Runaways for that matter - but still, it hits the "big screen" and the acting is piss poor and their dialogue is trite.  So people blame the actresses, but its not them.  Even these "no name" actresses I've seen in other roles that they preformed beautifully in.  

So where does it all go wrong?  And when is it our turn?

I love Batman.  I love all of my male superheroes.  (well, not a big fan of the boy in blue, but that's because I don't have a thing for cub scouts) But the use of women in comics, especially comic movies is weak at best.

You can try to blame the writers or the original books, but that won't work.  Fine, you may not like Silk Spectre, but Alan Moore's "V for Vendetta" had a strong female lead - Evey.
You didn't like Queen Gorgo in "300" but Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" had Carrie Kelly and hell, she was 13.

Where are the rolls like that?  Where is that passion? 

Instead we get to watch bare breasted bubbled headed women scream and run or have lots of sex.  I have nothing against a sex scene, if it's important to the story.  
If I want to see porn, I'll watch porn.  

And if they don't get all stupid and naked they whine a LOT. 
"Oh, Peter!  Whenever will you realize I'm more important than all of humanity?"  Oh Mary Jane... please go... do SOMETHING.  (like in the books where she's not a lame ass whiny girl.)

And what does is say about us?  We, the general public, can't enjoy a comic book movie unless some chick gets all dumb?

"Superman Returns" tanked as did the Ang Lee's "Hulk" in 2003 - maybe it's because Kate Bosworth and Jennifer Connelly left their shirts on.  I mean, 2008 Hulk had hot Brazilian chick.  "Iron Man" had pole dancing stewardesses.

People always say things like, "It was simpler back in the day."
No it wasn't
It just wasn't on film

Nothings really changed in main stream society

And sometimes I don't think it ever will.  Look at the general make up of Corporate America. 

White, male, rich.
It's like "Wall Street" on repeat

I am now getting off of my soapbox...
Have a good night
~The End

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