For years, the assumption in Hollywood has been that audiences aren’t really interested in female-led movies generally, but especially not female-led action movies, and especially not female-led superhero action movies. Just look at “Catwoman” and “Elektra,” right?
Among its many notable achievements, DC’s “Wonder Woman” managed to prove that thinking wrong almost literally overnight. In its first weekend in theaters, the Amazon princess’ debut solo movie earned a whopping $103 million, according to Box Office Mojo. It’s also one of the highest-rated superhero movies ever made, and one of the best-reviewed movies of the year, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
And although “Wonder Woman's” success is arguably due to a lot of factors, including the fact that it’s just a fantastic summer movie, its success is pretty clearly not in spite of the fact that its star is a woman.
So what’s next? The number of big-screen superheroines currently announced is still pretty dismal, although there’s hope that could change soon. In the meantime, here are the female superhero movies that fans can already start looking forward to:
'Wonder Woman 2'
In case there was ever any doubt, yes, there’s a sequel in the works. None other than DC Film co-head Geoff Johns and “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins are already hard at work on a story.
“Patty and I are writing the treatment right now,” Johns told Variety. “The goal is to make another great Wonder Woman film. I had a blast making it with Patty the first time. We’ve got a cool idea for the second one.”
Academy Award-winner Brie Larson (“Room”) will star in Marvel’s first female-fronted superhero movie, playing Carol Danvers, a NASA test pilot whose DNA becomes fused with alien DNA during an accident, granting her powers like flight, super strength and the ability to shoot energy blasts out of her hands.
According to Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige, Danvers’ powers will make her “by far the strongest character we’ve ever had” in the MCU.
There have been multiple characters called Captain Marvel in the comics — as well as Ms. Marvel, Danvers’ original superhero alter ego. Interestingly, though, Danvers’ Captain Marvel has ties to both the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy, suggesting a possible bridge between the regular MCU and what is sometimes referred to as the “Marvel cosmic universe.”
Unfortunately, with a March 8, 2019, release date, “Captain Marvel” is still a ways off, but fans can look forward to meeting her a little sooner than that as she is slated to appear in Marvel’s giant-sized superhero free-for-all, “Avengers: Infinity War,” which is slated for May 4, 2018.
'Gotham City Sirens'
Margot Robbie’s pitch-perfect portrayal of Harley Quinn was easily the highlight of last year’s “Suicide Squad,” so it’s no surprise that DC was lightning-fast in announcing a spinoff that would give her even more screen time, according to Hollywood Reporter.
Instead of B-grade villains like Captain Boomerang and Deadshot, this time around Harley will be joined by two of Batman’s most famous female baddies, Poison Ivy and Catwoman. For both characters, this will be a return to the big screen. Uma Thurman previously played Poison Ivy in Joel Schumacher’s notorious “Batman & Robin,” and Catwoman has been played by no fewer than four actresses over the decades (not counting TV) — Lee Meriwether, Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry and Anne Hathaway.
Other than Robbie, no cast has been announced yet, although Megan Fox (“Transformers”) has been rumored for the role of Poison Ivy.
“Suicide Squad” helmer David Ayer will once again handle directing duties.
“Gotham City Sirens” is reportedly being eyed for a 2018 release.
Back in March, a bomb was dropped on the entire Marvel fan base when it was announced, according to Variety, that MCU alum Joss Whedon had jumped ship and would be writing, directing and producing a solo Batgirl movie for rival studio DC.
With past work like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” under his belt, the “Avengers” director has developed a reputation for butt-kicking female heroes, so Batgirl is a pretty natural fit.
And back in 2015, he even announced plans for a comic book project titled "Twist" that was ultimately shelved, but which would have basically been a Victorian Batgirl.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Whedon commented on the upcoming movie, saying, “We weren’t even talking about ‘Batgirl’ — it came up as part of another conversation and then we all got so excited that the movie suddenly appeared. So that’s a really good sign to me. It wasn’t a slot they were trying to fill. We all just started talking about her and then I couldn’t stop. So, that’s a good feeling.”
No release date has been announced yet, but it’s expected to arrive in theaters before the Wonder Woman sequel, possibly as early as 2019.
'Silver & Black'
Not to be left out despite its relatively small stable of characters, Sony is taking a stab at a female-fronted superhero movie of its own as it fleshes out its (possibly Spider-Man-less) Spider-verse with this movie set to be directed by “Secret Life of Bees” filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood.
The titular Silver and Black refers to two of the most famous female characters from the Spider-Man universe, Silver Sable and Black Cat. For noncomic fans, Silver Sable is a mercenary who uses her unique talents to hunt war criminals. Meanwhile, Black Cat, aka Felicia Hardy, is a jewel thief who, in the comics, has had a long, complicated history with both Peter Parker and Spider-Man, including as a love interest. A character named Felicia Hardy actually made a brief appearance in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” played by “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” actress Felicity Jones as Norman Osborne’s secretary.
Interestingly, according to recent rumors, Sony might be using “Silver & Black” to set up an all-female Avengers-style team of Spider-Man side characters.
No release date has been announced yet.
Jeff Peterson studied humanities and history at Brigham Young University. He currently lives in Richmond, Virginia.