‘Wonder Woman’ to Prove Female Superheroes Have Box Office Power

Sexism in Hollywood blamed for dearth of women in the genre.

June 1, 2017 2:32 pm
Wonder Woman
Gal Gadot lassos the superhero genre away from the male-dominated stereotypes in 'Wonder Woman' (Clay Enos/Warner Bros.)

Wonder Woman is set to finally shatter the Hall of Justice’s glass ceiling.

Amid all the great reviews ahead of Friday’s release of the Warner Bros. movie, there’s an unglamorous lingering truth: That it’s taken 75 years for the beloved comic book character to get to the big screen in her own cinematic solo adventure.

And appropriately, enough, it’s because of the type of people that Wonder Woman was always warned about on Themyscira: men.

Business Insider has an in-depth look at just how much of a role male execs have played in clinging to the idea that women superheroes can’t carry a movie that appeals to teenage and early 20-something boys, who are the demographic still coveted by the industry.

Patty Jenkins / Wonder Woman
Patty Jenkins with Gal Gadot on the set of ‘Wonder Woman’ (Clay Enos/Warner Bros.)

In the 15 years since the new wave of superhero movies took off in a single bound—credit Fox’s X-Men (2000) and Sony’s Spider-Man (2002)—there have been dozens of male-driven entries in the genre. There have been exactly two, Catwoman (2004) and Elektra (2005), built around female leads.

Both tanked at the box office, foiled by bad scripts and worse reviews.


“There are certainly a lot of reasons, and many of them are depressingly (related to) sexism,” director Patty Jenkins told Business Insider in a recent Facebook Live interview. “But money moves the world and I think the tentpole industry started and there was a belief system, that was true for a long time, that teenage boys were driving that.”

Jenkins, like her movie, is poised for a breakthrough. Many industry watchers believe sexism can also be blamed for the reason it’s taken her so long to helm a second feature after the success of her 2003 debut, Monster, which won an Oscar for star Charlize Theron.

Both Jenkins and Wonder Woman are expected to rewrite the film biz’s accepted wisdom by the end of this weekend.

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