Marvel CEO Warns Against Female Superhero Films In Leaked E-Mail

Marvel CEO Warns Against Female Superhero Films In Leaked E-Mail

By Robert Dougherty May 06, 2015 10:15 AM
Photo Credit: Warner Brothers Pictures

Marvel is under a perfect storm of complaints for a supposed lack of feminism, thanks to Avengers: Age of Ultron and Joss Whedon, Jeremy Renner's continued offensive jokes about Black Widow, and the open wound that there will be no Marvel movies about a woman until Captain Marvel in 2018. On top of that, a new leaked e-mail involving Marvel's CEO showed him using past female superhero movies as examples for why they don't work at all.

According to the latest Sony e-mail leaks posted on Wikileaks, Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter warned Sony CEO Michael Lynton on Aug. 7, 2014 that female superhero movies are unprofitable. On the subject of "female movies" Perlmutter allegedly brought up Elektra, Catwoman and Supergirl, citing their lack of box office and lack of quality.

No one will actually doubt that these movies badly performed and are among the worst comic book films of all time -- and all but derailed Berry as an bankable name right after her Oscar win. Yet using them as reasons for not making female superhero movies today is highly flawed at best.

All of these films were made long before Marvel's MCU and DC's Dark Knight films spawned a rising tide of superhero quality. These movies were made during the dark ages of comic book movies, especially Supergirl. What applied to movies 10 or more years ago does not apply now, and just because audiences didn't go to see female-led superhero films then certainly doesn't mean they wouldn't now -- especially in the age of The Hunger Games, Frozen and a wide variety of blockbusters led by women.

Those movies actually had quality, whereas Elektra, Catwoman and Supergirl notoriously did not. One would like to believe that Marvel, Sony and any other studio in the superhero business today could find a superheroine project with much more of a creative vision. Three notorious failures certainly shouldn't mean that it should take more than 10 years to try again -- and it is certainly hard to find any other subgenre of movie that is held to the same impossible, cynical standard.

When it comes to Marvel's already shaky standing among feminists, and audiences looking for more imagination regarding female characters in blockbusters, this has been among the worst weeks imaginable for the studio. With many claiming Black Widow was set backwards in Age of Ultron, feminists being blamed for Whedon quitting Twitter because they allegedly went over the top in their Ultron backlash, and the continued sexist jokes by one of Marvel's own stars over its only female Avenger, this alleged e-mail from its own CEO is the cherry on top.

Not long ago, this was projected to be a week of total triumph for Marvel after Age of Ultron opened. But now that the film is actually out, the box office is less record setting than expected, the Internet ire is up and even more proof of sexism gets exposed, this is becoming a more contentous time for Marvel than ever expected or hoped for.

Tags: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Elektra (2005), Catwoman (2004), Supergirl: The Movie (1984)
About the Author
Robert Dougherty is a longtime online freelance writer, who wrote reviews, articles & editorials on movies/TV for several years on the now defunct Yahoo Voices.
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