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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Panel Vision - 10 Marvel Women Who Deserve a Solo Movie

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about Marvel’s representation of women in their films.  Though a lot of this has stemmed from Ant-Man’s portrayal of Hope van Dyne and the Wasp it overall has more to do with Marvel Studio’s infinitely too dismissive and uninvolved attitude towards female superheroes.  Given that I’m very much of the opinion that we definitely do need more female superheroes and it’s kind of supremely ludicrous that it’ll take Marvel 10 years to give us a superhero film where the hero is a woman I thought up a list of 10 Marvel super heroes who need a movie of their own. 

10.            NOVA
Nova was the fourth herald of Galactus, the devourer of worlds.  She often ends up weirdly forgotten from lists of heralds but then again this is Marvel, weirdly forgetting female heroes is their M.O.  She was an Earth woman named Frankie Raye that Galactus recruited as a herald.  Nova was one of the cooler characters of late ‘80s Marvel scifi.  This was the era of Jim Starlin rising to the top of the Marvel punch bowl and just completely reinventing the Marvel cosmic universe in a way the comics hadn’t really seen since Jack Kirby.  As a human being suddenly granted the power cosmic Nova was a really cool viewpoint from which to tell cosmic stories.  Her power allowed her to roam the entire universe while also shackling her with unique obligations, some of which even transcended the bounds of morality.  I’m fairly certain Nova is still under Marvel’s copyright so if they wanted to give her a go on film I think they’d be fine to do so especially given the only reason they resist her character that much nowadays is that her name gets her confused with the Nova Corp.  

9.            DAZZLER
This may not be a Marvel Studios character but Dazzler definitely deserves her own film regardless and Fox is really no better considering they don’t even have a solo female superhero film on the books.  Dazzler is a mutant who first appeared during Chris Clairmont’s redefining run on the X-Men in the ‘70s.  She has the power to turn sound into light and uses that as sort of a mutant pop star.  Dazzler tends to get written off by some but her unique position as a mutant who isn’t actively engaged in crime fighting help define the world of the X-Men in a way that seems more real.  Dazzler shows that not all mutants need to fight for equality with lasers and fists, some like her can do it just by being a successful recording artist.  She’d be a great character to adapt for Fox to try and appeal to a wider audience with its films, something they might actually realize if that Jem and the Holograms movie actually makes money. 

8.            ROGUE
Another Fox entry but this one seems to blatantly obvious I’m kind of shocked Fox hasn’t taken these steps already.  Rogue was one of the defining X-Men of the ‘90s, thanks predominantly to her role in the X-Men animated series and her winning blend of charm and strength.  It’s high time Fox finally broke out what Rogue is truly capable of and yes I do mean giving her flight and super strength like she did in the ‘90s.  I realize that there’s no logical way to explain how her energy absorption powers could allow those additional abilities but then again, Days of Future Past in no way explained how Kitty Pride could zap people’s minds back in time so I feel like that kind of strict logic structure isn’t really required of the X-Men movies at this point.  The bottom line to me is that Rogue is a powerful and engaging hero who’s more than earned her chance for the spotlight. 

7.            CRYSTAL
Crystal is one of the characters on this list who’s already kind of entering the Marvel universe but not in the kind of dominant manner she deserves.  She’s the princess of the Inhumans, a secret race of super powered beings who’ve been showing up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. lately.  The Inhumans are slotted for a film in 2019 so details are fuzzy on who will be the star but Crystal makes the most sense to me.  She’s the Inhuman with the most connection to the outside world as well as a more down to Earth and likable character than her mother Medusa.  Medusa is a strong character in her own right but often ends up a little too megalomaniacal and distant to be engaging.  Crystal is often caught between her duties as a royal and her personal desires, combine that with the power to manipulate the classical elements of Earth, Air, Water, and Fire and you’ve got the recipe for the best Disney princess of all time. 

These two characters are already so similar I feel like they should share a spot as they’re both amazingly capable super spies with a talent for disguises and stealth.   People have been jonesing for a Black Widow movie since Avengers but I honestly don’t think she got a developed enough point to sustain one till Age of Ultron. A movie revolving around her continuing to confront the sins of her past, perhaps in the form of a fellow assassin or other soviet era superhuman programs could be a great continuation of her quest for self definition beyond her creation from Age of Ultron.  Conversely, Adrianne Palicki’s Mocking Bird is easily the strongest part of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and most deserving of more exploration.  There are so many evil organizations and dark corners of the Marvel universe you could easily make a simple but effective spy flick that happens to star Mocking Bird and revolve around some weird Marvel universe McGuffin.  Mocking Bird doesn’t have the same level of development as Black Widow but I thin Palicki is easily up to the task and always does a good job imbuing the character with real verve and life.  Also Palicki already did a great job in G.I. Joe Retaliation. 

5.            WASP
Let me be clear here, when I say the Wasp I do not mean Janet van Dyne, the Wasp from the comics.  Janet van Dyne doesn’t really have much character or definition beyond “insufferably rye woman.”  That might be enough for something more in the vein of a superhero comedy with some action but regardless, I think Hope van Dyne from Ant-Man is a much better choice for the Wasp.  She’s better trained, has a more interesting backstory and performance, and the film was basically a great big origin story for her.  My only hope in making her the Wasp would be that she wouldn’t be relegated to blaster duty like in the comic.  Wasp’s tendency towards micro-blasts over fisticuffs has always left her character visually undynamic in fight scenes and I think it’d be way more impactful and engaging for film Wasp to be every bit the ass kicker while tiny that she is when big. 

4.            LADY SIF/VALKYRIE
Another split choice because, again, these ladies are very similar in their identity.  Lady Sif has already appeared in the Thor films played by Jaimie Alexander alongside Thor’s other companions the Warrior’s Three.  Alexander just crushes the role of Sif every chance she gets, including her multiple appearances on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  She absolutely owns the physicality and gravitas of her character and is able to stomp into any situation with all the cosmic weight and ability of a legitimate space Viking God.  I’d love to see a film about her exploring other corners of the 9 realms or even going on covert missions in space.  At the same time however I am a lifelong fan of fellow Asgardian warrior woman Valkyrie and I think it’d be pretty awesome to see her adapted to the big screen.  Valkyrie’s always stood apart from Sif to me because she’s not attracted to Thor at all and is one of the other major Asgardians to have adventures on Earth alongside the comic versions of the Defenders.  With these two though, I could easily see both of them working together in a joint movie. 

3.            STATURE
Stature has technically already appeared in the Marvel cinematic universe though you’d never realize it.  She’s Cassie Lang, the daughter of Scott Lang, Ant-Man.  As Cassie grows up she eventually gets some size changing technology of her own and uses it to become a giant sized hero named Stature.  I like Stature because of the unique blend of elements to her character.  She’s a teen girl hero, a unique element onto itself, but she’s also a female hero with an emphasis on super strength and growing giant, those aren’t powers generally associated with women.  Through into that the idea that her dad is kind of a superhero himself and it’s a super unique combination that could make for an absolutely great coming of age film with superhero elements, similarly to Big Hero 6.

2.            SHE-HULK
She-Hulk is one of the most badass, humorous, and engaging female characters ever created.  She was originally imagined as a female analog to the Hulk in case CBS wanted to make a female led spin-off show to their successful Incredible Hulk live action series.  From there she spun out to a solidly enjoyable book as a straight ahead female power fantasy.  After her book ended she bopped around the Marvel universe, serving on both the Fantastic Four and the Avengers before getting a few more solo series.  Her comics have always had an emphasis on blending humor with superhero action and her most recent book even added the dynamic of her being a working lawyer and superhero.  There’s such an incredible wealth of great stories, material, and character in She-Hulk’s history I’m kind of shocked Marvel hasn’t pushed harder for her to get a solo flick.  Best of all, she’s got all that Hulk powerful strength, with none of the boring gloom and doom that often punctuates Bruce Banner’s character. 

1.            STORM
Storm is awesome, this is an undeniable fact in the same vein as grass being green or water is wet.  She’s not only the best Marvel female hero she’s easily one of the best Marvel heroes period.  Her powers are versatile and impressive; her history as a Goddess, a queen, a teacher, and a rebel is a thrilling chronicle that runs a massive range of possible stories.  She’s also the most powerful and visible woman of color in comic books.  There’s honestly nothing about Storm that doesn’t scream out for a big budget cinema adaptation.  The fact that Fox isn’t already planning a solo Storm movie in the wake of the upcoming X-Men reboot is frankly baffling.  With the right director at the helm a Storm movie could easily go head-to-head with most any other superhero films, especially if she was in the style of the classic animated show. 

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