Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Axing the Ladies in Charge

So, in a move stunning in its ignorance, Warner Brothers has decided not to make any more films with female leads. Specifically, apparently, superhero films with female leads.

You may have heard about this elsewhere--the article showed up on Newsarama Sunday night, and I've seen it mentioned in a few places since then, but I didn't se eit until Monday night, so I'm blogging about it so there.

Now, on the one hand I see their point. WB took a nice big hit when the Catwoman movie bombed. Elektra didn't do well either (and not without reason--the concept of the film was fairly kick-ass, but the film itself not great.)

I don't think the decision is based on ignorance as in sexism, but ignorance as in, why don't you assholes make some good movies with women in them, dumshits?

Take Catwoman (please). I would have been all over a good Catwoman film. I love Catwoman. When I heard they were making a Catwoman movie the hubs and I were both pretty excited. Then we heard Halle Berry had been cast. Well, that's fine. We didn't think she could play the sort of reckless bad-girl sexiness of Catwoman, but we've been wrong before.

Then we heard her name had been changed to Patience something. Um... (I should mention here that Princess's middle name is Selina specifically because of Catwoman. So this was An Issue in our house.)

Then we saw the costume. That horrible, T&A, shredded THING. And our hopes for the film dropped into our feet and stayed there.

Now, let's see. Did the movie bomb because it had a female lead, or did it bomb because it completely alientated fandom and pretty much women in general by turning one of our tough, kick-ass girls into shredded leather cheesecake? Because it had a stupid, pointless plot with holes the size of Hummers? Because it was badly acted? Because the dialogue was laughable?

I know what I think the answer is.

And the Elektra film was more of the same. Jennifer Garner, (who I actually really like) was not well cast as Elektra. Just not. The film was not great. It had a great concept, but somewhere between concept and execution things went badly awry.

And now, instead of saying, "Gee, we totally fucked around with the basic concepts of those characters when we changed them from books to films, maybe next time we should try sticking with it and see if that makes a difference", they're just giving up. Which means the Wonder Woman flm won't be made, which I honestly don't have as much interest in now that Joss Whedone's not doing it but would have fricking camped out for tickets to see if Whedon was doing it.

Stuff like this really pisses me off. Why do all films with women in them have to be fatuous chick flicks? (And I do enjoy some chick flicks, but come on.) Why do they assume that's all women will go see? Women, are we giving this impression of ourselves? Why don't we try something else? Why don't we give Warner's the impression that since they don't want to see us in front of their cameras, they won't see us in front of their screens, either? Why don't we raise a big stink online, and write letters?

No movies with female leads, indeed. Whatever, Warner Brothers. I hate you now.


phsymom said...

OK so now I'm interested in what you think of the Underworld movies, Aeon Flux and UltraViolet? I haven't even looked these up to see who made them, but they are DVD's that I went out and purchased after viewing them.

Just Curious,

kirsten saell said...

I dunno, it pisses me off that the industry can't seem to make a kick-ass woman sexy unless she's in stilettos and skintight latex. Am I the only person in the universe who found Conan the Barbarian's buff but not buxom, flat-boot wearing, actually has enough muscle to swing a sword girlfriend to be much hotter than the latest incarnation of Catwoman?

You know who I really liked--Mila Jovovich in Resident Evil. No latex, no heels, just one sexy bitch who can lay a man (or monster) out flat. Loved her in The Messenger, too--a virgin with chopped hair and armor, and still sexy. Then they stick her in latex, heels and super-shiny lipstick in Ultra Violet, and I just so lost interest.

It's like Hollywood doesn't know how to find that place between chick-flick and boom-chicka. Where's my explosions? Where's the blod and sweat? Where's the Amazon warrioress?

Take it from a billiard freak--if my tits get in the way of playing pool, that push-up bra's gotta be a liability when it comes to kicking ass. And I certainly wouldn't want to go up against a bunch of zombies if I had to worry about smudging my hot-pink lip gloss.

BernardL said...

I agree completely. They keep putting together crappy plots, thinking they can get away with anything, if they land a big name actress in the lead. The last kick-ass heroine in the lead role of a movie was Geena Davis: The Long Kiss Goodnight. What a ride that one was. All they need is a plot.

KLCtheBookWorm said...

I enjoyed the Underworld films. She's a vampire of course she can fight in high heels. ;)

And aw, Joss Whedon isn't doing Wonder Woman. Damn, now that Serenity 2 rumor better payoff.

I'm at work and trying to remember my collection of movies at home, because there has to be more films of ass-kicking women than what we have named. Maybe I should put the list on my blog where I can access it.

Catherine Zetta-Jones in the Zorro films, loved her but secondary character.

X-Men, Mystic was incredible but a bad guy. The rest of the group not that great until Kitty Pryde vs. Juggernaut in 3.

Geena Davis in Cutthroat Island, enjoyed a lot of her performance but overall I don't think the film took the swashbuckling seriously.

Buffy found it's true success on TV.

Gah, this is harder than it looks, trying to remember. If I find any other titles at home, I'll try to remember to come back and add them.

But here's a theory. The best of the comic book adaptations have been headed by men who are fans or at least took it serious (Sam Rami and Spiderman, Bryan Singer and X-Men 1 and 2). The people responsible for that abonimation they mixed with Catwoman and the Crow could not have been fans of either. Physically and psychically inconceivable. So maybe the first criteria for finding producers and directors should be you are a fan of the material. Sometimes, this approach has worked for book adaptations too. (LoTR. :D )

Charles Gramlich said...

Mira Sorvina or the woman who played on the "Fifth Element" can make good kick ass heroines. Angelina Jolie did it well. But catwoman and elektra were horrible, and the actresses just didn't pull it off. It got to where for a while, though, it seemed every big budget action film had a female lead. I'd like to see a mixture.

kirsten saell said...

Oohh, I loved Mira Sorvino in The Replacement Killers. And the chick from Fifth Element was--you guessed it--Mila Jovovich from Resident Evil and The Messenger. Geena Davis--how could I have forgotten the Long Kiss Goodnight?

But there are some things I just can't get over--and high heels is one. How do you sneak up on someone when you're wearing stilettos? Oh, yeah, that's right. In the movies, the boom doesn't pick up the clickety-clack. That has to get added (or not) in post production.

I think Mira Sorvino wears 14-hole combat boots with her miniskirts and exposed bra in Replacement Killers. And Mystic in X-men just has bare feet--super sneaky and good for kicking anyone in the face.

It occurs to me that sensible footwear is but one aspect of a sensible production. The more skin and the higher the heels, the less of a plot there seems to be. And we all know that in Hollywood, purple eyeshadow is an adequated surrogate for character development.

Angie said...

Last I heard, WB is doing some major backpedalling on that. One guy said it and it got to the press and the fans went [graphic of mushroom cloud] and so they're backing off, without actually promising much specific. Although I sort of remember someone saying the Wonder Woman movie was still on -- I wasn't paying attention because I've never been a major WW fan.

I agree with you though that the reason movies like Elektra and Catwoman bombed was just because they were lousy movies. The gender of the lead had nothing to do with it.

There was this one comic book called DNAgents with these four genetically constructed adolescents going out to fight crime. The older girl (the one old enough to have tits) had these thigh-high boots with spike heels. Halfway through the first issue, sue was limping and tripping over things; she said at one point that she really regretted having asked for high heels with her costume. [snicker] Now that's a scene I'd pay money to see in a super hero movie. :D


Anonymous said...

V for Vendetta.


Obviously women in these roles isn't the issue, Warner Brothers is. Maybe it's a good thing they won't be doing more since they don't seem very good at it.

I wonder if another (read better) studio can pick up these projects?

Angie said...

Seeley -- V for Vendetta is an excellent example; it rocked truckloads of socks and Natalie Portman was great in it. [nodnod]


kirsten saell said...

Can't believe we all forgot Sigourney Weaver. Whether or not you think she's sexy, that franchise of hers made a buttload of money. Plus she kicks acid-spewing alien ass.

Ooh, and Linda Hamilton from Terminator and T2. She got so totally ripped in that second movie, never wore lipstick, and again-scads of dough.

Vicki said...

Jill James tagged me with a book meme and I've tagged you. This ones pretty cool.

Check it out over at my blog.

Bernita said...

You nailed it, December.

Tempest Knight said...

You know, male lead movies bomb all the time too. Don't get me started with some of the (lousy) Batman and Superman movies. And there's the last Mission Impossible, Dick Tracy, Daredevil, and Hulk. Bleh!

If they're talking about putting out movies based on characters fan are familiar with, yeah, people are bound to be disappointed with them. Those dumbheads at Hollywood always mess the characters and don't understand the "world building."

If their idea of taking a character, let's say Wonder Woman, and make it into a movie, and all they care is how skimpy and tight the WW costume is, yeah, the movie will bomb big time. They need to focus on the plot.

December/Stacia said...

Hi Karen, thanks for the comment! I thought Underworld could have been much better but I love Kate Beckinsale. Didn't see Aeon Flux because I'm not a fan of sci-fi stuff and I heard it wasn't good anyway, and I can't say I'm familiar with UltraViolet. Because we get movies so much later over here, and because we don't have the kind of publicity pushed they have in the States and there's only one movie theatre really nearby, I don't get to pay as much attention to them as I used to, sadly. It sounds vaguely familiar but I don't remember seeing much about it. Sorry!

Now, kis, you're not seriously asking ME if you're the only one who thought Concan's Valeria was the greatest female role model ever for a girl, right? Because you know how much I love her. When I was a little girl I wanted to be just. like. her. In everything. Except where she died. But even that I thought was awesome.

No, Hollywood doesn't. They seem to think men won't find a woman sexy unless she's wearing next to nothing and high heels, which is so stupid. I think men would see a female action film, if it was done well.

True, Bernard, the movies are crap and then they stick the Name of the Moment into it, never mind if she suits the role or not. Agreed on Long Kiss Goodnight, too.

Hi klc, thanks for the comment! True, it would be nice if they were fans, or if they at least read the source material with an eye to why it appeals, and stop messing about and changing beloved characters for unfathomable reasons. Sigh.
Looking at my own shelf I realize I don't have a lot of chick action either. We do have Elektra. We have Smokin' Aces, in which there are two awesome female assassins. We have Foxy Brown--Pam Grier kicks ASS.
But then we also have stuff like Raider of the Lost Ark. Marion was another of my role models as a kid. Star Wars, what little girl didn't want to be just like Princess Leia? They may not have carried the films, but isn't it interesting that really tough women are great when they're sidekicks, but aren't allowed to be the main characters?

Ann Aguirre said...

The Alien movies and Resident Evil are fine examples.

Milla Jovovich is the current go-to girl for action movies. She could carry off a superhero flick too.

December/Stacia said...

True, Charles. I admit I still like my tough action heroes, but I hate to see one gender completely excluded. I didn't see The Fifth Element, though, because I think I'm in the minority here in that I hate Mila Jovovitch. :blush But Replacement Killers? With Chow Yun-Fat? Oh yeah.

Kis, I'm awfully good in my heels. I can run and jump and everything. But yeah, I certainly wouldn't CHOOSE to.

I'm not a big WW fan, either, Angie, but I really did want to see a Whedon WW. I really liked what they did with her in Identity Crisis, but especially the Jodi Picoult run on her book is just...freaking awful.
Ooh, DNAgents sounds fun! I'll have to ask the hubs about it and see if we can find it.

Ah, Seeley, we probably won't see V for Vendetta because the hubs has issues with something about it, being a big Alan Moore fan. I may see Domino, though, if I can put aside my loathing of Kiera Knightley. I really do just hate the sight of her. But I'll try. :-)

Doh! And kis, I just examined our DVD shelves, and we have the Aliens box set with the first three films, and it totally didn't even register, doh! You're right. Ripley kicks major ass. And the scene where Linda Hamilton cocks the gun one-handed? OH MY GODS. That was fantastic.

Thanks Vicki, I'll have a look! I usually try and plan my blog topic well in advance so I don't do memes very often. :-)

Lol thanks Bernita!

VERY true, Tempest! And when those movies bomb nobody says "We're not going to do male action movies anymore." They just figure the movie sucked. Someone pointed out on lj the suck that was Ghost Rider, and Batman and Robin, and the Hulk, and they're even making another Hulk movie (oh how I hated the Hulk movie. Just...hated it. HATE.) Daredevil? Yeah, it wasn't good, but I have to admit, we bought the Director's Cut and found the film a lot more enjoyable that way. Still not great, but actually a much better film with the additional footage.

Exactly. It's not about gender, it's about source material, and they should know that because when they make movies of books and mess about with it people get irked, too. Focus on the plot and the world and the characters, and the movie will be okay. Try to recreate it, and you're sunk.

Kerry Allen said...

Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. She kicked ass, and I don't remember her being tarted up at any point.

Robyn said...

Hell yes on Milla Jovovich. Fifth Element was amazing. I thought Angelina did well with Lara Croft, and Sigourney Weaver was fabulous.

One thing movie makers need to think about- comic book superheroines ARE all about tight spandex and gravity-defying bustlines. Each artist added a cup size to Scarlet Witch until she nearly fell off the page. But even though I could accuse those artists of never dating in high school, the characters had just that- character. Storylines. Drama.

I'm afraid with movies like *gag* Catwoman, Hollywood thought that a sexy woman in tight leather was enough. And when the inevitable happens (hey, didn't Striptease teach them anything?) they blame the victim. Jeez.

Gabriele C. said...

December, you're not alone in hating Mila Jovovich. Her only facial expression seems to be a half open mouth.

Now, since I'm not a fan of the entire Catwoman and Co. genre, I could care less if Hollywood produces any more of these. But they should at least cast female characters in secondary roles that don't look like they're going to break if the lift a sword (that anorexic Keira Knightley in King Arthur, anyone?) and if they computer-enhance the boobs of those sticks, they should do it in all scenes. ;)

/rant mode

Robyn said...

But they should at least cast female characters in secondary roles that don't look like they're going to break if the lift a sword (that anorexic Keira Knightley in King Arthur, anyone?)

THANK YOU. Keira Knightley has become the bane of my movie-going existence.

Anonymous said...

I thought I could watch any movie that featured HB in a cat suit -wrong! That movie sucked for the reasons you said.

The folks that posted Resident Evil and Fifth Element as examples of the thing done well are spot-on.

I know Serenity is a little off topic, but it does feature beautiful women that pull off kick-ass roles perfectly. -V95

December/Stacia said...

Of COURSE, Kerry! How could I forget The Bride? Totally awesome. All the women in that movie were incredible.

Lol Robyn, I've noticed that about the Scarlet Witch, and don't forget Power Girl and her ginormous boobies. She's like Dog's wife Beth, I swear.

Exactly, Gabriele. She might kick ass but she's not really an actress. And I remember a long time ago, when she first started modelling, reading a brief article about her where she was clearly just an asshole to people trying very hard to be friendly and welcoming.

No shit, Robyn. I'm so tired of seeing her bland little face everywhere and hearing that terrible voice.

Of course Serentiy does, V95--Joss knows the ladies, oh yes, lol. And yeah, Catwoman did stink, sadly. *shudder*

Camille Alexa said...