A fortnight ago, we showed Supergirl in a brand new collaboration with What the Frock, at the Cuban. It was, as ever, both amazing and awful, in the truest of traditions at the Bristol Bad Film Club.
When it came to finding a suitable ‘bad film’ for our collaboration with What The Frock!, we were shocked that every female-led superhero film is on a sliding scale of awfulness…
Let’s face it – most ‘so-bad-they’re-good’ films are exploitative. Whether it’s Lisa in The Room representing how awful women are to men, or the female characters in most cult films being there purely to take their clothes off, the fairer sex rarely comes off well.
This is particularly true of female-led superhero films.
While the world of comic books is populated by a plethora of strong female characters, when they are translated to the big screen, they are often found wanting.
While there has been an improvement in recent years, many of the current slate of female superheroes (Black Widow, Mystique) still play second fiddle to their male counterparts (Captain America, Wolverine).
For the most part, this is because film studios have no idea what to do with female superheroes. To them, their target audience for these type of films is teenage boys/men, so ‘strong female’ is replaced by ‘scantily clad’.
If you look at the likes of Barb Wire, Elektra, Catwoman and their ilk, the idea of female empowerment seems to have come from the brain of a 12 year old boy. And I’m doing 12 year old boys a disservice by saying that.
Characters are poorly defined, motivations often revolve around men and if the plot does make an attempt to appeal to women, it is done in the most patronisingly insulting way – I’m looking at you Catwoman and your stupid storyline about a deadly skin cream.
Unsurprisingly many actresses have seen their careers nosedive after appearing in many of these films. It’s amazing Charlize Theron can still headline a film after Aeon Flux.
However of all the female superhero films made, Supergirl stands alone, in our opinion, in not being borderline insulting.
Sure, Kara Zor-El is stunningly naive, just wants a boyfriend and seems to forget that her entire world is under threat so that she can attend a prep school, but at least it’s done in the most mind-boggling, non-sensical way imaginable.
Thank God, Jennifer Lawrence is standing out from the pack with her Hunger Game films, but it’ll be interesting to see how the forthcoming Wonder Woman portrayal is handled and whether Marvel will ever get round to putting Black Widow (or even Ms. Marvel) front and centre, instead of behind the rest of The Avengers.
Bristol Bad Film Club is teaming up with What The Frock! to show Supergirl… the reason Wonder Woman is still waiting to have her own film. Continue reading SUPERGIRL (1984) – 24th April 2014, The Cuban, Harbourside