Finally! A Movie About Wonder Woman!
Science fiction is a genre that celebrates the strange. We constantly raise our glasses to the dorks, cyborgs and mutants while secretly wishing we could be a part of their extraordinary world. For some reason, we never tire of seeing the underdog become the hero they never thought they could be, regardless of the countless remakes of these very stories that dilute each concept’s originality. Science fiction captivates us because we delight in seeing our world reimagined into something different, something better. We’ve seen orphans become chosen ones and losers become saviors. Why then, has it been so hard to place a woman in the role of the hero without screwing it up?
Since the beginnings of superhero films, female superheroes have been known to fight uphill battles against a society that does not want them. They’ve been handed one-dimensional scripts and overly sexualized versions of their characters and have been expected to make them work. It is no wonder that most of the movies that centered around a female superhero never did well in the box office. Catwoman (2004) and Elektra (2005), both flops, are often cited as proof for why female superheroes just don’t work. Of course, it doesn’t matter how bad the last 5 remakes of Superman were, a new one will be remade every few years, and people will still go and see it. On the other hand, poorly developed female-led superhero movies are like lambs to the slaughter. And they get no second chance at redemption.
But now, it seems as though the efforts of the science fiction feminist fans have finally paid off. The latest addition to the Star Wars saga, featuring a powerful female lead, catalyzed women’s previously slow climb towards greater representation in the Sci-Fi world. More recently, Wonder Woman marks a giant leap for women in the superhero film category, and is therefore a highly anticipated superhero film in the coming season.
In addition to Wonder Woman, with this fall’s introduction of two female-led superhero shows, Supergirl on CBS, and Marvel’s Jessica Jones on Netflix, it seems like the tide of male-centric superhero shows has finally begun to ebb. Both shows have received stellar reviews and have left viewers itching to know “what comes next” in this new world of entertainment. One thing is for sure: A new superhero is on the rise, one that sheds her housecoat for a cape and her hairbrush for a sword.
Needless to say, the face of science fiction is changing, and not only in regards to movies and television. Nowadays, it is not unusual to see competitive female video gamers at national conventions like Comic con. Although their numbers still remain smaller than their male counterparts, women are forging a path into a world that was at one point, predominately male. It is more important, now than ever before, that science fiction films and shows pay respect to a gender that has supported them through flop after flop.
And why stop with women? The LGBTQ community has long bemoaned their lack of representation in the science fiction genre, a genre that’s sole purpose is to celebrate the atypical. They too, desire role models and heroes that they can identify with.
The progress of the past decade cannot be dismissed as a passing craze any longer. It is clear that heroism should be grounded in reality and attainable for all genders, races, and sexual orientations. Hopefully, this rise in female-led science fiction films and shows carries enough momentum to propel the genre to explore much more uncharted territory.