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By the time Captain Marvel finally makes her debut as the first female superhero to helm her own movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe on November 2, 2018, Marvel Studios will have already made 19 movies featuring male leads, including three apiece for Captain America, Iron Man and Thor.
So why did it take 20 tries before Marvel was willing to give us a movie with a female lead?
An email from Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter to Sony CEO Michael Lynton sheds some light on Marvel’s thinking. In short, they have no faith in female heroes.
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Subject: Female Movies
Date: 2014-08-07 09:32:50 UTC
From: [email protected]
To: lynton, michael
As we discussed on the phone, below are just a few examples. There are more.
1. Electra (Marvel) – Very bad idea and the end result was very, very bad. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=elektra.htm
2. Catwoman (WB/DC) – Catwoman was one of the most important female character within the Batmanfranchise. This film was a disaster. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=catwoman.htm
3. Supergirl – (DC) Supergirl was one of the most important female super hero in Superman franchise. This Movie came out in 1984 and did $14 million total domestic with opening weekend of $5.5 million. Again, another disaster.
So what did we learn? For starters, Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter does not even know how to spell “Elektra” correctly.
Yes, those movies all lost money, but they were all also horrible movies made well before the current superhero renaissance. It’s not as if they made a good female superhero movie and no one came. There are plenty of examples of female-led action movies that made bank. Instead of looking at the incredible box office numbers of movies like The Hunger Games or Frozen, studio executives are dwelling on the dismal box office of weak superhero movies made decades ago.
Unfortunately, this email is not some relic from the distant past. It was written just last summer. This attitude is affecting what movies get developed today.
So when you are wondering where your solo Black Widow film is, or why founding Avenger the Wasp is reportedly killed off-screen in events that precede the upcoming Ant Man, wonder no more.
Marvel’s superheroic women can defeat any enemy — except for the sexist attitudes of their own studio executives.