Avengers producer Louis D’Esposito (and director of the Agent Carter short film that will grace the Iron Man 3 home video release) thinks the time is right for a female superhero to take a starring role in a Marvel film. “There’s obviously a drumbeat that is banging louder and louder that we want a female lead superhero” D’Esposito said. This echoes a statement made by Kevin Feige at the CapeTown Film Festival on April 30th, when he addressed the possibility of a Marvel film that would focus on a solo adventure for a female superhero. “We have a number of candidates from the comics and from the movies we’ve already made,” said Feige, “It’s just a matter of finding the right storyline, the right filmmaker, the right time.”
While this wouldn’t be the first time a female superhero has gotten the spotlight in a solo film, previous efforts, like 1984’s Supergirl and 2005’s Elektra are best forgotten. However, those films were ill-advised spin-offs of franchises that may have already been on shaky creative and critical ground, while the modern crop of Marvel movies continue to shatter box-office records and fan expectations. If ever there was a time for a female superhero to step into the spotlight, it’s right now, so we’ve picked five who could make the jump from page to screen with little difficulty and maximum impact. While Warner Bros. is still scraping away trying (and failing) to get a Wonder Woman movie off the ground, Marvel can remain way ahead of the curve by bringing one of these women to the big screen!
This one’s easy. Audiences are already familiar with Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of Black Widow thanks to her supporting role in Iron Man 2 and the ass-kickings she dished out in Avengers. A Black Widow film could be less a superhero flick and more of an espionage/action thriller, complete with international intrigue, false memories, and a host of Bond-like gadgets. In other words, Black Widow: The Movie would be a little less like Iron Man and a lot more like Jason Bourne. What’s more, Black Widow’s solo flick could be used to flesh out the inner workings of S.H.I.E.L.D. on a scale that the upcoming Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television show might not be able to on a TV budget. Since it looks like Black Widow will get a substantial amount of screen time in the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier film, she might be ready for her own movie sooner rather than later!
If you would have told me ten years ago that Sif would make it to the big screen before Wonder Woman, I’d have laughed you right out of the room. But that was before the Marvel movie universe, and before Thor brought the realm of Asgard to the movies, and along with it, Jaimie Alexander’s Lady Sif! Asgard is already established in the minds of audiences, and it looks like Asgard will be even more central to the plot of Thor: The Dark World, so there shouldn’t be too much explaining to do. Sif has already stepped out on her own in the pages of Marvel’s critically acclaimed Journey Into Mystery (which wouldn’t be a bad title for the movie, to tell you the truth), so she’s building the name recognition necessary to carry her to box-office success. If Marvel gets this one right, then WB’s Wonder Woman could come off looking like a feeble attempt to cash in on the success of Lady Sif!
Alright, terrible name aside, Jennifer Walters is a terrific character. And you know what else she’s got going for her? She’s already got Kevin Feige in her corner! At the same Q&A where Feige mentioned the possibility of a solo film for a female Marvel hero, and audience member shouted, “She-Hulk!” to which Feige replied, “She-Hulk would be pretty great.” Shulkie is still kind of a long shot, though (although she ALMOST got a TV movie back in 1989 starring Brigitte Nielsen, but that’s an article for another day). Marvel has yet to prove that ANY cinematic iteration of Hulk can be a runaway box-office success, so they might be reluctant to roll the dice on Bruce Banner’s cousin. On the other hand, She-Hulk has always worked best as a somewhat irreverent character, free of the soul-searching and angst which defines her more famous male counterpart. A She-Hulk movie would have a completely unique tone if done right, and could allow audiences to see what happens when someone gets bigger, stronger, and greener…and decides they are actually better off that way.
Still waiting for Sony to throw those Spider-Man rights back to Marvel? Don’t hold your breath. But allow me to introduce you to Jessica Drew, who (despite the similar arachnid-themed name) is anything BUT a “female Spider-Man.” In fact, she’s got absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Peter Parker and his crew. If ever there was a superhero completely rooted in what has built the Marvel cinematic universe, it’s Spider-Woman. Brainwashed by HYDRA before rebelling and becoming an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Spider-Woman has a pretty standard power set consisting of super-strength and durability, but her “venom blasts” (which are like little laser beams of biokinetic energy) are something we haven’t seen from any of our Marvel heroes yet. Seriously…with all of these superheroes running around, where are the people shooting laser beams out of their hands??? This is important stuff, people! A tweak or two to her origin and Jessica can show up as a minor antagonist in Black Widow’s film before breaking out in time to star in her own movie. And then, of course, there’s always Avengers 3, but I’m getting way ahead of myself here…
This is the big one. Carol Danvers was saddled with the unfortunate moniker of Ms. Marvel for decades, not to mention an equally unfortunate skimpy costume. That all came to an end in 2012, when she took over the “Captain Marvel” name, got her own title (brilliantly written by Kelley Sue DeConnick), and a costume makeover courtesy of Jamie McKelvie. Carol’s new costume is just about the coolest new superhero design on the stands today, and would translate brilliantly to the big screen. An origin story based heavily in the Avengers’ interplanetary foes, the Kree, would lend itself quite well as a starting point as Marvel builds to any of their many Avengers sequels.
Oh yeah…and her power set is unmatched. Captain Marvel can fly, manipulate energy and gravity, take and dish out all kinds of punishment, and thanks to her Air Force background, she can outwit, outsmart, and outstrategize the bad guys. Carol Danvers could probably give the cinematic version of Thor a run for his money, and in terms of raw power and physical spectacle, she’d be a perfect box-office answer to WB’s Superman. As an added bonus (if you care about this sort of thing), a Captain Marvel movie would cement Marvel’s hold on the “Captain Marvel” name in the public’s mind once and for all. Forget Avengers 3 (or 4, or 5, or…whatever) put Joss Whedon on Captain Marvel and watch her become the most powerful superhero at the movies! And…if somebody could convince Battlestar Galactica‘s Katee Sackhoff to take the part, we wouldn’t complain.