– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Over the past three months DC/WB has seen a plethora of critics put every decision under a microscope and dissect everything wrong with the DCEU.  From the tone of Man of Steel, the appointment of Zach Snyder as the lead of DCEU, the casting of Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot as Batman and Wonder Woman, the interpretation of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, and the decision and style of Doomsday.  I am probably missing some more critiques that are out there but you all understand my point that there is plenty that Warner Bros., Zach Snyder, and DC have to fix before Justice League.  With all of those issues there is one that DC and Warner Bros. got right and did so before Marvel and that would be the incorporation of strong female leads in the DCEU. 

Since Jennifer Lawrence breakthrough performance as Katniss Everdeen we have seen women take the lead as the heroine in major movies.  Take a look at Star Wars: The Force Awakens where Daisy Ridley has become the new face of the franchise as Rey.  Or even its standalone movie Rogue One where we see Felicity Jones as the main character Jyn Erso.  With the movement of women taking over lead roles it amazes me that Marvel with 8 years up on DC that they don’t have a major film with a female lead. Captain Marvel is in production and has a set date for March 8,2019 starring Brie Larson.  The only Marvel film that has produced a female lead was Elektra starring Jennifer Garner in 2005.  This was before the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe began in 2008.  What amazes me even more is that Marvel is under the Disney umbrella which is known for its variety of female/princess movies as well as owning the Star Wars franchise which in its first two films focuses on the female lead.  It has taken 8 years for Marvel to just now start producing a Captain Marvel film which we apparently won’t see her first appearance until 2019.  Marvel also has just now started discussing a Black Widow standalone film with Scarlett Johansson only after her character was introduced 6 years ago in Iron Man 2.  Below are some example of how DC/WB has utilized their female characters into their cinematic universe and increased their popularity as well.

The Wonder Woman Effect

Let’s go back to two years ago when it was announced that Gal Gadot was casted as Wonder Woman.  All of the talk on the internet was how Zach Snyder got the casting all wrong with her and she would be a terrible Diana Prince.  Now to the present, it is safe to assume that the shining light of Batman vs. Superman was Ben Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman.  I remember being at opening night of Batman vs. Superman and the only part of the movie where you heard excitement in the crowd was when Wonder Woman joined the fight against Doomsday and there was that slow motion shot of Gal Gadot slowly coming up above her shield.  It was such an impactful moment in the movie and comic book world to see a female superhero stand toe to toe with other male superheroes/villains.

Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was so well liked among executives that a solo movie was green lit before Batman vs. Superman finished production. With a set release date of June, 2 2017 This will be the first major DC/Marvel female movie since 2005’s Elektra starring Jennifer Garner.  DC/WB’s executives were even smart enough to cast Chris Pine, who rates very well among female viewers, as Diana’s love interest Steve Trevor.  While I don’t expect Wonder Woman to break any major records when it comes out to theaters, I do expect to see an army of mothers and daughters going to see this movies.


The Harley Quinn Effect

In the middle of May The Hollywood Reporter found out that Warner Bros. were in the preliminary discussions of creating a Harley Quinn movie that would incorporate other DC female villains and superheroes.  Ever since Harley was introduced into the DC Universe from Batman: The Animated Series her popularity has skyrocketed especially amongst teenage females.  Whether it’s her presence in the Batman Arkham games, DC Animated movies, or comic conventions, Harley is every bit a presence with the fans.  Today you cannot go to a comic convention without seeing at least 10 Harley Quinn Cosplayers.  Mark Cook and I were discussing how you could make a drinking game out of how many Harley Quinn Cosplayers there are at conventions. 

Suicide Squad has not even made it into major theaters yet, but with the little that is out there the consensus is that Margot Robbie has gotten it right with Harley.  When discussing the outcome of this movie with other members, the two major concerns that come up is Jared Leto’s “Joker” and the hope that this is not a Will Smith “Deadshot” centered movie.  Margot Robbie seems to be the consensus pick with everyone that she will shine in this movie.  With the decision to go ahead with a Harley Quinn centered movie looming, it would be a major mistake not to capitalize on her popularity right now.   A solo Harley Quinn movie could very well be the female version of Deadpool which we all saw how well that did.

The Supergirl Effect

This past fall we got to witness Supergirl on a primetime major network.  While the show saw its popularity and rating see a decline over the season it is safe to assume it was not a total disaster.  Supergirl in the DC Comics Universe has always been seen a “B” character with never really being the lead in any of DC’s major comic event.  That is why it was a complete surprise that DC/WBTV decided to green light a Supergirl show as well as putting it on CBS, a major network.  The casting of Melissa Benoist was the spark that the show needed to succeed.  If you don’t follow Melissa on Instagram or Twitter, you should.  She has embraced her role of Supergirl so well that her public appearances has grown over the past year with an amazing support of young females.

Understandably the ratings and cost of Supergirl were not to the standard of a major network like CBS, it was amazing to see instead of just canceling the show that the executives were able to work out a deal to move it to The CW.  Now with the show on the same network/universe as Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow it is safe to assume that this show should have at least 2 more seasons in it.  Especially with the news that Superman will be included into the show.  This just shows you the executives at DC and Warner Bros. understand the importance of a female fan following.  Marvel TV did produce 2 seasons of Agent Carter and it had its own strong fan base but remember that Marvel TV couldn’t get a solo Mockingbird television show picked up.  Instead Marvel TV had to respin the show (Marvels Most Wanted) as a duo show where Mockingbird play by Adrianne Palicki teams up with Lance Hunter played by Nick Blood.   The successful Marvel television that we have seen with a female lead is Jessica Jones on Netflix but didn’t come close to as popular as the Daredevil series

The Comic Book World Effect

Over the past ten to fifteen years there has been an incredible surge of female lead comic books as well as female artist/writers.  Going to conventions over the past ten years the ratio of guy to girl artist attending conventions has changed probably from 7:1 to 4:1.  Depending on which convention you go to it might be different.  The autograph/commission lines for artist like Amy Chu, Stacey Lee, Genevieve FT, and Nic Ter Horst are just as long and demanding as the male artist who attend the same conventions.  The attendance of young females has grown as well at conventions that you can no longer forget or ignore this audience.  This is why it is important for DC to continue to produce comics like Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, and Wonder Woman.

Whether you like it or not Girls/Women have entered the mainstream of the comic world and they are here to stay.  Let us know your thoughts about this in the comment section.

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.