Friday, May 5, 2017

Wonder Woes, Part Deaux: FOR THE LOVE OF HERA, SEE WONDER WOMAN

In "Wonder Woes," I discussed some stress/anxiety/anger/etc. I was experiencing in light of a potential change in Diana's backstory. It turned out to be a rumor, but I'm calling this post a sequel because my source of frustration here is still what's going on with Warner Brothers and one of the myriad things they've chosen to do (or not do) that just will not help me relax about Wonder Woman. Seriously, pretty much the whole time I've been watching this whole thing unfold, I've felt frustrated and helpless.


Yup
My latest stress is that with the premier date less than a month away, I'm kind of out of sorts over the dearth of (good/smart) marketing promoting it. And I'm not the only one noticing it. All sorts of other fancy, more-read people have noticed it, too. Not only that, but one of the few advertisement partnerships WB has made is with gorram diet bars. (Yes, there have been a few other partnerships, but the main one available now is food "for women" and associated with weight loss/dieting/etc. Just totally not cool.) And while a lot of the other articles are pitched as a "fans are wondering  why" piece, I know why- or at least, I have a theory. It has to do with what I was talking about here, and more.  They may be making the movie, but they don't expect it to do well. So they're cutting their losses and saving every penny they can, since they don't think the movie will make much more than its $100M budget (an historical thing in and of itself, if you didn't know). 

And of course that  upsets me. I've blogged before about how it seems the Dudes in Suits are so paranoid about having a comic movie star a woman, they gender/character-swapped the Days of Future Past storyline for the movie.* I have zero faith in movie executives at this point. And it's not up to directors what kind of promotional materials get made/distributed/etc. for their movies- so Patty Jenkins, our director here, is entirely powerless, now that her movie is (presumably) finished. There's nothing she can do as WB's PR department completely drops the ball. I can only  imagine how upset she was when she saw the "Thinkthin" shit. 



What makes this troublesome for me is this "we don't think it's going to do well so we're not going to waste money promoting it" has the potential to turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. And if the movie does, in fact, do poorly it's first weekend or two, low turnout will be used as the excuse to put a cease and desist order on any and all female-starring superhero movies ad infinitum. Not a damn thing about the lack of effort from the PR department will be said, just the poor box office numbers. Alongside Catwoman and Elektra, Wonder Woman will be touted as an example of how "women just can't star in superhero movies." It's being set up to fail, and that failure will in turn lead to zero faith on the part of the Dudes in Suits. 

And yes, I do think this means Captain Marvel will very likely be affected, too. I don't care if it's a different studio- these Dudes in Suits take notice of what each other are doing, how they're doing it, how it does or does not pay off, etc. Marvel Studios would totally reconsider a Captain Marvel movie if a gorram Wonder Woman movie tanks. 

(I was going  to have this point be a side or footnote, but I think it's important and relevant enough it needs to stick in the main body.) When having this conversation in person, and when I bring up the Captain Marvel/Marvel Studios point, the only time anyone resists/challenges me there is when I'm talking to a man. Any women I've discussed it with has agreed emphatically, while any man I've spoken with about it has always argued, or at least tried to make it sound like I'm jumping to conclusions or something about it. The fact that Marvel Studios is separate from WB, or that they already have people cast and a director and stuff for Captain Marvel are among the main things I hear these dudes say (and I should note, I've reached over half a dozen at this point, who have all done this to me). 



What I want to know is why they think any of that matters, here? Movies complete with directors, actors, scripts, etc. get cancelled all the gorram time. So what's so special about Marvel Studios?  To say a thing I've said a million times, Marvel isn't actually all that great with female representation onscreen. Women end up being sidekicks, mysteries, tools, obstacles, and damsels in distress for the men in the stories to interact with somehow. And now that the Avengers team is even bigger, more than doubled, after Civil War, I want you to look more closely at the cast of Infinity War Part I. There are six women listed as for sure (one as rumored). Six. And that list doesn't include extras or anything yet. Six, out of 30 (or 29, if you count the two rumored listings). That's only 1/5 of the entire named cast. Or watch this "first look" featurette:



Notice how it's all white dudes talking, and any character-driven plot they talk about has to do with men specifically or general groups (the Avengers themselves, the Guardians of the Galaxy), groups in which women are a minority. I think that just sort of sets the tone for what to expect from the movies- as with all other Marvel movies,  these women will be side characters, and the main players will be Iron Man, Captain America, Star Lord, and Thanos. Also, as I've said before, if Marvel Studios is still unwilling to make a movie for a guaranteed-money-maker like Black Widow, one they know all of the nerdboys drool and jerk off to, now that she's been onscreen in five of their movies (soon to be six/seven, with Infinity War), why the fuck would they hesitate to ditch an idea for a character that's mostly unknown to the uninitiated? (Seriously, I don't know a single person that doesn't read comics but knows who she is (compared to Wonder Woman, which is like "duh"), and when I inform them she's a she, they're usually super surprised. Which says a lot, I think.) I don't think they'd cut her from Infinity War, no, but would they give her her own movie? Probably not.

And to state the obvious point, this would have absolutely nothing to do with the character of Captain Marvel herself, or any projections based on her- it would be simply because the Dudes in Suits would see that a- THE- Wonder Woman movie bombed, ticket-wise (which is all they care about- even if it gets a 100% on Rotton Tomatoes or like a 95% on Metacritic, the decision-makers wouldn't care), and would change their minds. 

And then the Batgirl movie with JOSS WHDON at the helm that hasn't been openly denied by anybody will get canceled, too, which would make it the second Whedon-helmed, female-led DC movie that didn't get made.  

And I just... While the dudebros and neckbeards may think, well...



I don't really care. I need Wonder Woman to succeed. All women and girls do, as far as I'm concerned. William Moulton Marston, the man who created her character, knew how important it is for girls to see characters "like them" in the media- that was a huge reason he created Wonder Woman in the first place. Back then. In the 1940s. A man knew representation is important for the self esteem and well-being of little girls.

So why is that so gorram hard for Dudes in Suits nowadays?

I need this movie to be good on a deeply personal level, don't get me wrong. It would invariably send me down a bad spell if I leave the theater disappointed. But that's a somewhat different discussion. Like I said before, the execs won't really care if it's "good" or not, they're only going to notice how much money it makes. Shit, I'll buy tickets on Fandango that I won't use, if I have to.

And there's a valid comparison between the standards this movie's performance has to surpass vs. those of male-led movies and what women have to deal with in professional settings, too. While neither Thor solo flick barely beat $60m opening weekend, and the first Captain America did about the same (compared to both Avengers, which nearly doubled that, and the later Iron Man movies, which all did much better, too), the Norse God is still getting a third movie, and Cap already had one. Even Ant Man, which at $57M made less than every other Marvel Studios movie (except the second attempt at a Hulk flick) has a sequel in the works.** Wonder Woman is projected at making a bit over $80m opening weekend, and yet a number that high is actually being treated as if it's low


Which makes me  sick. But, y'know,




It's the same double-standard women in the workplace deal with- they have to do twice as well, be twice as nice, and still may get passed up for promotions, or the credit will go to the dude that did half as much, etc. Films led by men can have comparably sub-par performance and still have subsequent movies in their franchises, yet there's speculation the franchise starring a woman that may perform better may thus be doomed? Come ON, now.

So we all need this movie to make lots of cash. Thus, I implore you, please,

GO SEE WONDER WOMAN OPENING WEEKEND AND THE NEXT WEEKEND IF YOU CAN, TOO

I say the second weekend because the drop between opening and second weekend matters, too. 

But, anyway.

Tell your parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, friends, frenemies, enemies, customers, coworkers, bosses, students, teachers... Tell every person you interact with every day. Tell them to see it. Even if you don't think it's going to be good (which is a whole different rant, but suffice to say I get really fucking tired of men saying they think it's going to suck and are apprehensive about seeing it, but they are more than willing to see any and every Thor movie in theaters, even admitting to seeing previous ones more than once despite knowing they were awful), give them a (breifer) explanation like mine as to why: If this does badly, we can expect to have to wait  another ten-plus years for another superhero film to headline a woman. 

There is one more fear, related to this double-standard: That if the movie does well but is kinda crappy, they won't make it its own franchise. We're past the point where that matters, though- all we can do is vote with our wallets and show the Dudes in Suits we want more by getting our butts  in the seats. I truly think that, at the end of the day, these Dudes in Suits aren't being consciously, maliciously sexist. I think the film industry is just so bloody entrenched with misogyny that they can't help but follow those tracks and keep things as is. But, this is capitalism. And at the end of the day, money is the most important thing.

So I also am desperate to believe the opposite of these fears: That if Wonder Woman does well, it will pave the way for other female-starring superhero flicks. So that Batgirl movie will really end up being a Thing. Black Widow will indeed get her own movie. Other franchises will come out of the woodwork, ones we've already thought of, and ones we haven't. Hell, just run a Google search for "female superheroes that need movies" and you'll get a never-ending list of articles, some with lots of overlap, some that are completely original. But the point is, people care. They want to see women onscreen. WE want to see women onscreen. And if Wonder Woman does well, I think it's possible. The patriarchal trends in the film industry could be at least a little changed, and someday, entirely smashed.


This really is an issue about the fate of feminism in this country. Wonder Woman  has, since her inception, served as a symbol for feminist ideals. That's literally what she was created for in the first place. This character is been around for a lot of shit, and has made it through a lot of shit that the dudes in charge of her stories have decided for her. I don't just think  it's superhero movies at stake. Even though The Hunger Games was successful, it, and the handful of other movies starring women that also did well, aren't treated as the norm. If Wonder Woman does well, maybe it will help that radical notion that women are people, and that the movies starring them can be money-makers, will be more accepted. And then 

BAM! Feminism FTW!!!



So please, get out there. Spread the news, make sure everyone you know goes to see Wonder Woman. And keep fighting the good fight.




*In that post, I said I was sick of Wolverine. While he did have a small part in Apocalypse, his swan song, Logan, was a masterpiece, and I am very pleased with how they said goodbye to the character. Of course, as the new series moves forth, they'll probably find a new Wolverine, but, hey, maybe the break will be longer than the breaks we've had between Spider-Man iterations. 

**Source


No comments:

Post a Comment