News Column

Superman Is Here! Again! Tony Hicks Column

June 14, 2013

Tony Hicks

Superman is here -- again. Rebooted. Again. And I'm not talking about his new red shoes.

Last month, Iron Man came back for the third time.

They've tried the Hulk three times in recent years, with three different actors.

In the past 25 years or so, Batman has returned for seven movies, with Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney and Christian Bale all getting a crack at the title role.

Ryan Reynolds got to be the Green Lantern. Seth Rogen -- Seth Rogen! -- got to play the Green Hornet.

Chris Hemsworth is about to return as Thor. Chris Evans will be back as Captain America. There's been a bunch of X-Men and Fantastic Fours. Hollywood even dug deep to pull Hellboy out of the old comic books.

Some were great films, and others were nearly unwatchable. Some were just mediocre enough to be forgettable. But all those male superheroes (to be fair, a few costumed women were seen here and there) got their chance to light up the big screen at a theater near you.

Meanwhile, Wonder Woman sits home, wondering why no one has asked her to the action movie prom.

Actually, I can't imagine Wonder Woman sitting around and waiting. She's probably doing push-ups, or practicing her lasso on a mannequin dressed up like Heinrich Himmler.

But if Rogen gets a shot at being a superhero, I think it's safe to say Wonder Woman's time has come.

She has been waiting for her shot at a feature film since her debut as a comic book heroine in 1941, which was a fertile time for comic book characters fighting for the American way. Her most famous incarnation was the TV show starring Lynda Carter in the 1970s, which we look back on semi-fondly because it was nothing if not serious cheese (and also because Carter was in it). A new Wonder Woman TV show in 2011 got as far as a pilot being filmed, but it never aired.

Wonder Woman may yet get a shot at the big screen if producers can get it together and do a "Justice League" movie, the talked-about DC Comics equivalent of "The Avengers." That film bucked the odds by making a fantastic ensemble superhero film featuring characters who had already starred in their own movies (there was one female superhero, Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, who also hasn't had her own film yet).

But even if the Justice League movie comes about, Wonder Woman would only be part of an ensemble.

C'mon. We're talking about the greatest fictitious export of the Amazon who has an invisible plane, a golden lasso and awesome, Nazi-kicking boots. She's been waiting 72 years to get on the big screen. She's paid her dues (watch the fantastic documentary "Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines," by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, a filmmaker who also teaches film at Pleasant Hill's Diablo Valley College).

As a father of girls, I'd like to see more women kicking tail on the big screen. And there's little doubt -- especially after watching Guevara-Flanagan's documentary -- that a female superhero is fertile ground for good storytelling.

You would've thought that there would've been a more natural progression to female superheroes by now, especially after the success of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" on television more than a decade ago. But Hollywood still seems intent on piggybacking on the wants of comic book nerds. According to a recent USA Today article, a 2012 DC Comics poll revealed that men account for 93 percent of people buying comics. Only 5 percent are buying comics first time, and 2 percent are younger than 18.

Which means that the comic books nerds -- whose hard-earned dollars are fueling the decade's comic-book resurgence on the big screen -- want what they already know. They want the big screen storylines they're already familiar with. The comic book industry isn't doing enough to expand its audience to include women and younger people.

It's time. Little girls need to see one of their own dominating the universe, and no one is a better candidate than Wonder Woman.

Hollywood, are you listening?

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