Another Marvel Press Tour, another unsatisfactory answer to the question of when Marvel will make a movie about a female superhero. In a recent interview with Scott Huver of Comic Book Resources, Kevin Feige once again punted on the question of when fans will see a female-led Marvel movie. Feige is asked this in basically every interview he ever gives because people are really interested in seeing Black Widow or Captain Marvel take the lead/make it to the screen at all. So you’d think he would have come up with a satisfactory answer by now. He hasn’t. This is what he told Huver:
“I think you're right about that, and I think it comes down to timing, which is what I've sort of always said, and it comes down to us being able to tell the right story. I very much believe in doing it. I very much believe that it's unfair to say, 'People don't want to see movies with female heroes,' then list five movies that were not very good, therefore, people didn't go to the movies because they weren't good movies, versus [because] they were female leads. And they don't mention Hunger Games, Frozen, Divergent. You can go back to Kill Bill or Aliens. These are all female-led movies. It can certainly be done. I hope we do it sooner rather than later. But we find ourselves in the very strange position of managing more franchises than most people have — which is a very, very good thing and we don't take for granted, but is a challenging thing. You may notice from those release dates, we have three for 2017. And that's because just the timing worked on what was sort of gearing up. But it does mean you have to put one franchise on hold for three or four years in order to introduce a new one? I don't know. Those are the kinds of chess matches we're playing right now.”
That seems disingenuous at best. He doesn’t have to “hope” for a movie with a female star, he can greenlight one. And the onerous demands of the Avengers and their subordinate franchises haven't prevented him from opening new swaths of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange. Slashfilm’s Angie Han compiled an extensive collection of Feige’s wishy-washy quotes on the subject, and it will convince you that Feige is just not interested in making a movie about a Marvel superheroine. So the question becomes, why not?
I was thinking about that, and I realized we got an answer four years ago, not from Feige, but from Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer, Joe Quesada. At the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con Marvel: Cup O’ Joe panel, someone asked how the (then recent) sale to Disney had affected Marvel’s day-to-day operations. Not at all, said Quesada, and he went on to explain:
“The reason the marriage is so perfect is because we do something that Disney doesn’t do well, which is we have a very strong primarily male following, whereas Disney has almost the exact opposite, so it’s a perfect marriage for both them and us.”
Disney bought Marvel because they wanted access to men’s wallets. They already had ladies’ purses on lockdown. Marvel makes movies for boys, and the 44% of Guardians of the Galaxy opening weekend audience members who were female? I guess that’s just gravy. But whatever Feige says about Hunger Games and Aliens, someone at Disney or Marvel Studios doesn’t think men will see a movie about a woman, no matter how much ass she kicks, and they already have Princess movies like Frozen and Maleficent for women to see.
In fact, before the sale to Disney, Marvel was set to launch Phase 2 of their MCU with a Runaways film. That's not an entirely female team of superteens, but it is a female-centric and female-led team of superteens. They had a script, a director, and casting had begun when production was halted in October of 2010, and now it has been shelved indefinitely. Drew Pearce, the screenwriter on the project, was moved to Iron Man 3 based on the strength of his Runaways script.
I don't know if Disney execs are the people Feige says unfairly claim that "People don't want to see movies with female heroes," but I am going to guess they are. Disney and Marvel gave Guardians of the Galaxy a $170 million budget. That's a huge gamble on a set of characters most people have never heard of. Black Widow is an established character who has already been in four Marvel movies (I am including Age of Ultron in that number), you could easily make a movie about her for half of what they spent on Guardians, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier perfectly set her up to go off and do her own thing for awhile. Too bad Disney isn't interested in seeing her do anything but support the boys.