Based on rumblings on the Internet lately, it seems as if Marvel Studios will be taking the plunge soon in regards to giving one of their female heroes their own movie franchise, something DC/Warner Brothers seems very reluctant to do with Wonder Woman. Even Thor actress Natalie Portman has made mention that she knows Marvel is planning something soon with a female protagonist. But which character will make the cut? Here are five Marvel female characters that I don’t think will ever make it to solo franchises of their own…and five more that I think actually have a good shot at headlining their own movies someday.
5. The Team Members
While DC Comics has the most well known and high profile female heroes in the form of Wonder Woman,Supergirl, Batgirl and Catwoman, characters that are so famous even your grandparents know who they are, Marvel has arguably the better overall assortment of strong, well written and well rounded female heroes. Unfortunately, their best heroines were primarily created as members of super teams like the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and the X-Men, and are designed to function more in a group of characters than on their own. This is not a phenomena unique to female heroes, by the way; arguably the only character who rose to fame primarily as a member of an ensemble first, only to be spun-off successfully later, is Wolverine. Marvel tried to make successful solo series with Gambit, Nightcrawler, the Thing and others, and although those characters are beloved, they just weren’t designed to function as solo heroes.
Ultimately what this means is that great female Marvel heroines like Storm, The Invisible Woman, the Wasp, Kitty Pryde and the Scarlet Witch won’t be getting movies of their own anytime soon, or probably ever. Even if in some cases, they end up being the very best parts of the ensemble movies (okay, maybe not Halle Berry as Storm.) So sadly, these awesome ladies are probably going to have to remain content with being part of a group.Which, to be fair, is really just being faithful to their comic book counterparts.
I will admit, I love Dazzler, and I would be the first person in line for a Dazzler movie, were that to ever happen (it won’t.) However, I would probably be the only one, and Marvel Studios isn’t in the business of making movies just for me. Dazzler was introduced in the pages of The Uncanny X-Men in 1980, and although disco singer Alison Blaire was a mutant, her X-Men appearance was made to be kind of a “backdoor pilot” for her receiving her own series, which was already being planned, which she ultimately got in 1981.
Dazzler’s own series debuted to much fanfare and over 400,000 copies of her first issue sold, but her ties to the now very over-and-done-with disco craze made her seem out of step with the times pretty much from the moment she received her own comic book series. Dazzler’s series ended up running for four years and 42 issues, which in hindsight isn’t too shabby, and the character went on to become a member of the X-Men during maybe the team’s weirdest period to date, when they were all pretending to be dead and living in the Australian Outback. Not a bad consolation prize, from washed-up character to a lead role in Marvel’s #1 book.
But even if you take away the seventies disco trappings of the character, and make her a modern pop star a la Lady Gaga (who has in the past worn make-up resembling classic Dazzler comics) you would still have to sell the American public a movie about a singer who has the power to make sound into light, and make it not come off as super cheesy. It’s not impossible, but I can’t see any studio willing to take that multi-million dollar risk. The best we can hope for is a Dazzler cameo in a future X-Men movie, and maybe that’ll just have to be good enough.
Another great Marvel heroine that I love, but one whose odds of getting her own movie are slim to none. Both of the Hulk movies struggled at the box office (the first one slightly more than the second one) and no matter which way you slice it, a She-Hulk movie would be seen as a sequel or as a spin-off to The Incredible Hulk. I imagine that Marvel Studios will want to introduce She-Hulk into the Avengers universe at some point, but I think her getting her own movie at this point is more or less out of the question, unless she somehow ends up being the break-out star of a future Avengers sequel.
I will say, though, a She-Hulk television series might be more appropriate than a movie. The concept of a giant, sexy green lawyer who specializes in “superheroic law” would be something right up Joss Whedon’s alley, for example, as shown by his brilliant use of the demonic law firm Wolfram & Hart on his show Angel. Not to mention that Whedon and company have something of a knack for television series with super strong female protagonists. The Incredible Hulk had his best success on television after all; it’s what really made him a household name. Maybe She-Hulk could have the same luck?
Believe it or not, the heroine known as Hellcat is one of Marvel’s longest running female characters, although chances are many of you reading this don’t even know who she is. Originally, Patsy Walker was the star of several “teen romance” books published by Marvel from the forties all the way to the mid-sixties. In those comics, a kind of variation on the Archie formula, we saw Patsy fret about boys and high school life. She would eventually headline no less than three different series; Patsy Walker, Patsy and Hedy (Hedy was the Veronica to her Betty) and Patsy and Her Pals. When her books were finally cancelled in 1967, Marvel decided to incorporate the character into their superhero universe. And in doing so, they had her take a defunct superhero’s identity for her own.
In 1972, in an effort to diversify their line, Marvel introduced a new female hero called “The Cat” in her own series, which only ran four issues. There’s wasn’t much to that series, and readers caught on that it was not much more than a giant rip off of DC Comics’ Catwoman. The character of the Cat, Greer Nelson, was evolved into an actual cat like creature called Tigra, with a bikini and tiger-like skin – probably to make the character look and feel less like Catwoman. Then in 1976, Patsy Walker took the Cat’s old costume and renamed herself Hellcat. Hellcat bounced around teams like the Defenders and the Avengers for years, and at one point even married the son of Satan, Damian Hellstrom. While in her Hellcat identity Patsy was never much more than a team member in various groups, as plain old Patsy she headlined her own book for decades. Ultimately, her super hero persona is just way too much like Catwoman, a character that already had her shot at the big screen. The legacy of Halle Berry’s Catwoman is that no one is going to attempt another female cat-vigilante movie pretty much ever again….not DC/Warner Bros., and certainly not Marvel Studios.
Spider-Girl, better known as May “May Day” Parker, the teenage daughter of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson from an alternate future, had the longest-running superhero book with a lead female character ever published by Marvel Comics, as part of their MC2 line. The series ran for 100 issues, and was relaunched several times after that initial series ended. With that kind of publication record, you’d think that Sony, who owns the Spider-Man franchise, would be jumping on this as their next big movie franchise.
But the chances are pretty slim, and it is simply because Peter and MJ having a daughter pretty much ties those two characters as ultimately getting together in the end, killing all suspense of “who will Peter choose?” when it comes to the women in his life in the ongoing Spider-Man movie series. They could present Spider-Girl in much the same way the comics did – as an alternate reality – but why muddy the waters and potentially confuse the audience? Despite her success in the comics for so many years, it seems Marvel is trying to bury all mention of “May-Day” Parker these past few years, which also hurts the odds of her ever making to the big screen. While May Parker may pop up in the comics again some day, I think her future in the movies is none too bright.
The Potential Breakouts:
5. Silver Sable
Created as a supporting character (and sometimes antagonist) for Spider-Man back in 1985, Silver Sable, real name Silver Sablinova, was a platinum haired female mercenary of European descent, a hunter of war criminals, and the leader of the mercenary group called the Wild Pack. There is nothing super-powered about Silver Sable: she’s just a skilled fighter and marksman, but one who happens to be a mercenary and not a straight up superhero, or super spy even.
Silver Sable had her own series for a time, which ran from 1992-1995, but has made many appearances in the Marvel Universe since that time. With the success of shows like Alias and movies like Salt, the timing couldn’t be more perfect for a Silver Sable movie. With the right star in the role, something like Silver Sable and the Wild Pack is a perfect movie just waiting to happen, and it certainly wouldn’t be the kind of movie that would break the bank for Marvel Studios.
4. The Black Widow
The character of Black Widow, as now famously portrayed by Scarlett Johansson in the movies, is my one place where I break my rule of a character primarily known as a team member probably not getting their own movie franchise. And yes, I know that Natasha Romanoff was originally not created for the Avengers, but as a villainess in the old Iron Man comic. Still, The Avengers is where the character got her fame, especially now to mainstream audiences.
Although the Black Widow was nothing but “the hot chick who kick ass” in Iron Man 2, under Joss Whedon’s hand she became arguably one of the better written parts in The Avengers. Her reverse interrogation of Loki scene said more about her character than her entire role in Iron Man 2. Hell, her introduction scene in Russia said more than her entire role in Iron Man 2. I’d bet tons of moviegoers out there would be willing to pay money to see the Black Widow kick ass some more. Will it make Iron Man or Thor money? Probably not, but it doesn’t need to cost Iron Man or Thor money to make either, so a modest success could be seen as much bigger in retrospect. Avengers hinted about all the “red in her ledger,” and I for one would like to know what that’s actually all about. (I imagine it involves her killing a lot of people.) When can I get in line for Black Widow: The Red Ledger?
There are a lot of reasons why Jessica Drew, the original (and current) Spider-Woman, would make for a kick-ass and successful movie. Although she is called Spider-Woman, the character has no connection to Spider-Man, aside from living in the same universe, so she won’t be tied into Sony’s Spider-Man rights. She is Marvel Studios’, free and clear as far as anyone knows. Her origin in the comics ties in closely with SHIELD and Nick Fury, not to mention the criminal organization HYDRA, something already very well established by the Avengers and Captain America movies and now the SHIELD television series, providing a good launching point. Her costume, while colorful, has a bold and instantly memorable look. And like all good superheroes, she has a tragic backstory. All the ingredients for a compelling movie.
Spider-Woman has the benefit, by virtue of her connections to the Avengers and (only by name) to Spider-Man, to be able to pull in both audiences. Okay, they’re kind of the same audience, but you know what I mean. Certain people might watch it believing it’s tied into Spider-Man’s continuity, and others might know better and see it as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but having both audiences show up would only benefit a Spider-Woman movie’s success.
2. Jessica Jones
Another superheroic character named Jessica who also happens to have ties to SHIELD, Jessica Jones was the star of Brian Michael Bendis’ acclaimed series Alias that ran from 2001 to 2005, and who – after that series ended – appeared in Marvel’s New Avengers comics. The original concept of Alias was that Jessica Jones was once a short-lived super hero named Jewel, a classic-era Marvel heroine with super-strength and super-speed, who wore a stylish sash. Unlike Ms. Marvel and her contemporaries though, “Jewel” was a hero whose career never really took off. Pretty much all washed up, she eventually she gives up her superhero identity altogether and opens a detective agency that specializes in cases of the superheroic kind.
Although Jessica Jones has been in alternate stages of development for about three years for television (under the name AKA Jessica Jones, with the Alias name being taken and all) the premise itself is solid enough for a movie set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Of course, if Agents of SHIELD on ABC is a hit, they might suddenly revive the show and have yet another Marvel show on the air, so whether it is television or movies, sooner or later we are going to see Jessica Jones in live-action. It’s just a matter of when.
1. Captain Marvel
This entry seemed to be the no-brainer for the #1 slot. Carol Danvers, the former Ms. Marvel and current Captain Marvel, is Marvel Studios’ best option for a big screen heroine to star in her own movie, for many reasons. For starters, Carol Danvers is maybe the only female counterpart to a famous male hero, in her case Captain Mar-Vell, to long ago outstrip her male counterpart in importance and popularity. The original Captain Marvel was one of the last major creations done in the Silver Age by Stan Lee, but his own series never quite took off with readers, and was only published intermittently during the seventies, pretty much just as way of keeping the copyright. In 1977, a female counterpart was given to Mar-Vell, when Air Force pilot Carol Danvers was given similar powers and became Ms. Marvel, wearing a sexified midriff baring version of Captain Marvel’s uniform. She was given her own series which ran for three years.
Over the next few years, Ms. Marvel also became a key member of the Avengers, and her importance continued even after Mar-Vell’s death in 1982 (one of the few comic book deaths that has shockingly not been reversed yet.) Ms. Marvel outgrew Mar-Vell in popularity and importance, and last year Marvel Comics finally officially gave Carol Danvers the title Captain Marvel, and her own ongoing series once again.
There are lots of reasons why Captain Marvel could work as a big screen adventure; Carol Danvers’ origin, despite her name, isn’t dependent on their being a male Captain Marvel first. Sure, her powers originated when her DNA was “fused” with his, but you can replace Mar-Vell with any alien Kree warrior and the origin remains the same for all intents and purposes. Second, the idea of a badass female pilot who just might have an attitude problem coupled with cosmic powers is ripe material for a movie; Top Gun with powers and a female lead. Who wouldn’t see that?
And while the character is far from a household name, the fact that the word “Marvel” is part of her name, instantly giving her brand association? That can’t hurt either. Of all of Marvel’s iconic female heroes, the former Ms. Marvel has the best shot for big screen success. And yes, Battlestar Galactica‘s Katee Sackhoff should totally play her.