Comic-Con Panel: Best Superheroine Movie? No, the ONLY Theatrical Superheroine Movie

Left to right: Katrina Hill, Jill Pantozzi, Adrianne Curry, Clare Kramer, Jennifer Stuller, Gina Misiroglu. Off screen: Comic book writers Marjorie Liu, J. Michael Straczynski; actress Cindy Morgan.

In our “Where Are the Action Chicks?” panel at San Diego Comic-Con International, we examined the dearth of action heroines in movies and comic books, including an examination of the reasons why there are so few despite the great popularity of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xena: Warrior Princess, Aliens‘ Ripley, Terminator‘s Sarah Connor, and certain others. After the introductions, I started off by illustrating the specific shortage of motion pictures starring comic book superheroines in leading roles. Hit-Girl was the breakout character who stole the show in Kick-Ass, but it was Kick-Ass’s story and he, not she, was the title character.

I’ve had numerous discussions about what’s the best theatrical superheroine movie, while acknowledging all along that it’s really a trick question. How is it a trick question? Because there has only been ONE. When I asked our audience what that movie was, I was pleased to hear a good portion say, almost in unison, that movie’s title.






Yes, it was Supergirl. Seriously, that’s the only one. Witchblade, Wonder Woman, and the Birds of Prey had TV shows, and My Super Ex-Girlfriend was a spoof that starred no character from the comics.

Over the last year, I’ve asked a lot of people why there are so few and I’ve gotten a lot of fascinating responses, but no clear consensus has emerged.  Find out what out panelists had to say in part two.

Continued in…
* “Comic-Con Panel Video: Where Are the Action Chicks?”

More pics:
* My 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International Facebook Album – pt. 1
Panel information:

* Our Comic-Con Panel! Where Are the Action Chicks?
* Our ‘Where Are the Action Chicks?’ Panel Lost Luci and Gained Goddess Glory
Interviews:

* Caddyshack and TRON – But What About TRON Legacy? Actress Cindy Morgan
* Yancy Butler (Witchblade, Wolvesbayne, Kick-Ass)
* Wired Interviews the Action Flick Chick: Geek Culture’s 26 Most Awesome Female Ass-Kickers
* Wired Interviews the Action Flick Chick: ‘Action Chick’ Looks at Comic-Con’s Geek Girls
Related posts:

* The Wonder Woman TV Never Saw: Who’s Afraid of Diana Prince?
* SDCC: Women Who Kick Ass!
* Best Superheroine Movie? Round 1

Left to right: Action Flick Chick Katrina Hill, Nerdy Bird Jill Pantozzi, reality TV star Adrianne Curry.

Left to right: Action Flick Chick Katrina Hill, Nerdy Bird Jill Pantozzi, reality TV star Adrianne Curry.

Related posts:

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24 thoughts on “Comic-Con Panel: Best Superheroine Movie? No, the ONLY Theatrical Superheroine Movie

  1. Christopher

    I think we will see more in the future but it is going to take a big hit somewhere for it to happen. I am starting to think that hit won’t be Wonder Woman.

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  3. RussellMania

    Don’t forget about the awesome Cindy Morgan who was on the panel as well but had to leave a little early. I am glad I got to see this panel at Comic Con.

  4. Lis Fies

    Sad to say, I yelled out the name correctly as I read along here. And what a crappy, subpar Superhero movie it was. SIGH.

    Kat, thanks so much for all you do to bring light to these issues, and the graceful way you get people engaged in dialogue about seeing women as protagonists, too. Important work. <3 you, lady!

  5. Angelo Furlan

    I’d like to say that you’re splitting hairs with “Catwoman”, since I think she was portrayed as a hero in that movie. But I have yet to watch it – the negative word of mouth has scared me away! Some years ago, there was talk about making a movie of my character “Sinnamon”. However, that effort would have been so low-budget it would have made “Supergirl” look like “Avatar” in comparison!

  6. Lis Fies

    I don’t believe Katrina is splitting hairs; I think she’s made a crucial distinction. Criminal antiheroes are not the same story genre as a traditional superheroine. The movie wasn’t based on any DC comic character, it just borrowed the title “Catwoman” as a supernatural mantal bestowed by possessed alley cats onto many women. Patience Phillips was invented by producer Denise DiNovi who disowned the movie AND women afterwards in trade magazines by saying it failed because no one wanted to see a comic movie with a female lead…

    Any little girl who saw the movie and was confused into thinking Catwoman was a superhero she could dream of being would have been set straight by a visit to the local comic store when she saw there was nothing made for her point of view of wanting to BE Catwoman…It’s all sexualized/objectified Catwoman merchandise aimed at males. It’s not the same situation as little boys dreaming of being Superman at all.

    If anything I’d argue that a franchise like POWER RANGERS which was not based on a comic property is the most akin to a superheroine movie, though through sexist team dynamics the women are again relegated to the sidelines and are not the protagonist or team leader.

    The real issue here is that we don’t believe in The (Super)Hero’s Journey for women. It simply doesn’t exist in our movie storytelling. The American culture doesn’t find women interesting enough to be protagonists in nonsuperhero movies (only 1 in 10 movies has a female protagonist), and can RARELY conceive of a woman being a hero with goals other than existing as an appendage of men.

    Even MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND was a stab at this belief: the protagonist was actually Luke Wilson. He was being stalked by his mentally unstable ex who just happened to be a superhero and was now making his life a living hell because she couldn’t possibly exist without him. Villain/antagonist, not superhero.

    The corporate memo is that girls don’t get to fight for justice and have adventures independent of men. They only want to get married and have babies.

    Kat, have you interviewed Trina Robbins?

  7. Lis Fies

    TOMB RAIDER and those Milla movies are what we need more of, but again they didn’t start as comic properties.

    Kat, you’re a Gaming expert…is the gaming story world more open to traditional female protagonists?

    Maybe we need to stop focusing on shaming the dying comic world into empowering action, and invest hope in the gaming universe continuing to dominate pop culture.

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  9. Mary

    Thank you for bring to light what so many girls have noticed. It’s true. We need more of a strong female presence in the film industry. There are so many to choose from. Maybe is enough of us girls mention it, the industry will take notice.

    The pictures are wonderful as well. Everyone is so beautiful!

  10. Apocalypse2001 (on twitter)

    true….if they made a film out of “Kingdom Come” which yes, for the most part centers around the core characters which are mostly male, they could have the excuse to make other films about Big Barda…or, Scarlett Witch; or a Wonder Woman film which might include Superman and a relationship between them (just an example).
    Or, they could even do an awesome film about Power Woman (the former Power Girl in Kingdom Come). et cetera et cetera
    The main reason for female hero films is because there’s LESS of them in the comics. That and the fact that the general public (who aren’t gamers, geeks, etc) think female characters are not as popular as the male characters.

  11. Ricardo Williams

    I think there’s only been one because that one was a failure (critically and commercially). And, if you consider the fact of sexism, audiences want their female heroes to be “tough, edgy, and of course, scantily clad”. Sadly, there’s no demand for morally correct female heroes with an annoying sense of honor, justice, and nobility.

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  13. Kay Jordan

    Superheroine movies have never been given a chance by the people making them. Elektra sucked. Catwoman sucked. Supergirl snooze city. Not one good script in the lot.

  14. John Fulcher

    One of these days I’m bringing back Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. If no one beats me to it. And I can afford the rights.
    My pick for Electra Woman? Its a tie between Christy Brinkly and Mary Hart.
    Dyna Girl? Maybe Mylie Cyrus or someone equally annoying, as the original DG was.

  15. John Fulcher

    If you’re going to make a female superheroine or female action hero, you gotta make her believable looking. I tell you, if I was going to shoot an action flick with a female lead, the actress is going to get her ass to the gym just like a male actor would. Hell even Toby what’s-his-face bulked up to play Spiderman. Nobody, not even women, can take a flick seriously when it has an 90lb woman beating up 300 pound thugs. Its the fanboy thing. They think if they “empower” their female characters this way it makes up for the fact that they put them in skimpy, slinky outfits and objectify them.

  16. MisfitsTamara

    Has anyone mentioned that pretty much all of these scripts have been terrible? It’s not about audiences not wanted to see female action/superheroes, it’s about not wanting to see a crappy movie. The problem is that there are so few attempts at female-lead hero flicks the failures stick out more and give a false impression that people don’t care.

    For example, if Elektra hadn’t sucked, it would’ve made a LOT of money but instead they chose to neuter the character and give her some brat to chase after. They even cut the fight scenes together horribly! Studio fail.

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  19. Don B

    How would you classify Ripley in the Alien movies, especially in Alien Resurrection when she has superpowers?

  20. Beate

    Okay, this does not come from comics (which never meant much to me before I watched ‘Smallville’,) it was TV, and often it was not so very good – but I still liked the sisters in ‘Charmed’, going through the same conflicts between duty and private life all modern superheroes seem to experience. And I loved the ‘Charlie’s Angels’ movies with Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu.
    Far from perfect, sure, but still stuff I only dreamt about when I was a teenager in the Seventies…. and, for example, being kick-ass and sexy at the same time seemd impossible….

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