Female superheroes in TV and Film
Whether you like it or not, Marvel and DC superhero films and television series are here to stay for so long as studios can continue to milk money from fans both cape-wearing-proud and closeted alike. Hell, both universes are mapped out with movies, TV projects, stage musicals and school plays for the best part of the next decade; the continuation of a sustained assault on our viewing habits that has left even the most ardent detractors groaning their praises.
The best part of those universes? Female superheroes. And with the agonising wait for Suicide Squad nearly over and Margot Robbie getting more hype as Harley Quinn than she did for Wolf of Wall Street - the role that made her famous - we thought we’d take a look at some of the best live action depictions of our favourite female comic book heroes. Because for every Michelle Pfeiffer or Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, there’s a Halle Berry.
So Suicide Squad isn’t out yet and it’s the first time the violent yet vulnerable and complicated Harley Quinn has made an appearance on the big screen in live action, meaning Margot Robbie has no competition to speak of. The skimpy outfits and vat of chemicals origin story aside, Harley Quinn on the big screen is a big deal. And the previews are proof enough that the Australian export is doing for HQ what compatriot Heath Ledger did for The Joker. And coincidentally, their characters have been in a dysfunctional relationship for years. And remember, that even villains are the heroes of their own stories. And having a special talent doesn’t mean you have to use it for good.
Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was one of the positives to come out of Batman v Superman. And all due respect to the likes of Lynda Carter and Cathy Lee Crosby, but Gadot’s interpretation of Wonder Woman is hands down the best live action depiction we’ve seen.
Luci Lawless only voiced the character in cartoon form. Shockingly, Batman v Superman was the first time the lasso-wielding, invisible jet-flying superhero has been depicted in live action since Carter’s TV series ended 34 years ago. Thankfully, Wonder Woman has her own movie on the way, so there’s plenty more Gadot to come.
Ironically, she was considered by the powers that be to be too “grey” to play Jean Grey any longer, but Famke Janssen will always be Pheonix to us.
One of the original mutants created by Stan Lee way back in 1963, Jean’s transformation from stereotype ’50s housewife with powers as Marvel Girl to Phoenix is nothing short of legend. And in the creators’ defence, the series did cease to exist for the best part of a decade from 1970 before Jean was reborn in a time of revolution where women’s rights marches were going strong. And Dutch actor Janssen realised Jean in spectacular fashion, creating a three-dimensional take on a modern mutant in love. Here’s hoping Sophie Turner can make her version of Jean Grey just a likeable.
A villain turned good, Black Widow’s tale is the ultimate story of reformation. The Blacklist’s Raymond Reddington lends heavily from her story that dates back to the 1960s, a genius criminal who uses his/her powers for good. It’s become a Hollywood trope. And while modern cinema may have done its best to ruin characters such as Spiderman and, well, Spiderman, we must concede thanks for including Black Widow as one of the founding Avengers - which isn’t the case in the comics.
We’re going to make this abundantly clear from the start - we’ve got a crush on Krysten Ritter. Whether it’s as Jesse Pinkman’s methed-out babe, Jane, in Breaking Bad or as the sharp-tongued, narcissistic, hedonistic roommate in Don’t Trust the B in Apt 23, Ritter has the don’t-give-a-f*ck attitude down to a fine art. And her turn as Jessica Jones is solid proof that she’s one of the best things to happen to Marvel’s modern live action renaissance since Guardians of the Galaxy. Largely because she’s too lazy to even use her powers unless she absolutely has to. And it’s brains v braun. The Netflix series has already been committed to two more seasons. And just imagine what the future might hold should the DC and Marvel universes ever meet - Ritter’s Jessica Jones v Robbie’s Harley Quinn…