With Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel proved – as though there had been any doubt – that audiences are excited and eager to climb on board for whatever cinematic adventures the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) has to offer. Such a large and enthusiastic audience begs the question: if the MCU can find success with a film where two-fifths of the hero team are a talking raccoon and a sentient tree, why won’t they give fans a female-led flick?
I know I’m not the first to ask that question and I’m certain I won’t be the last. Tony, Steve, and Thor have all been great, don’t get me wrong, and Peter Quill was an absolute delight, but their stories are only a small portion of the dynamic and diverse group of heroes that make up Marvel Comics’ long-running history. On the off-chance that Marvel execs have simply been too perplexed as to where to begin for a female-led franchise, I’ve compiled a list of surefire leads to get their creative juices flowing in a new direction.
True, Natasha Romanov has graced the screens of three Marvel movies to-date: Iron Man 2, Avengers, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. However, those brief glimpses have made it very clear that the Black Widow has a rich, complex, and nuanced history that heretofore has only been hinted at in previous films.
Fans have long been clamoring for an origin story film for Black Widow, and for good reason: Scarlett Johansson plays Natasha with great power and subtlety, making the audience all the more eager to learn the answers to their numerous questions. How did Natasha become the Black Widow? Why did Hawkeye “make a different call” instead of taking her out as ordered? How did she become part of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
A solo Widow film would certainly raise just as many questions as it would answer, given the character’s complexity, but it would be oh-so-marvelous (pun intended) to finally see the MCU’s take on her origin.
Gamora (and Nebula)
I am certainly willing to admit that I had no prior knowledge of any character or plot point relevant to Guardians of the Galaxy before I saw it in theaters this summer. As previously stated, the film was an absolute delight; however, I found myself wanting more. While we are certain to find out more about our lovably dysfunctional team in Guardian of the Galaxy 2, I found myself wondering less about the future and more about the past.
Specifically, who are Gamora and Nebula? Sure, we learn the bare basics of their identities and origins in Guardians, but their characters felt so untapped to me. How did they come to be the adopted daughters of Thanos? How did growing up with such a “father” figure shape who they came to be? How did they come to – by the end of Guardians – choose such separate paths? What made Gamora so determined to take on guardianship of the universe and what made Nebula so determined to maintain a path of destruction?
Having already dropped the ball by leaving Gamora off merchandise, a solo film fleshing out Gamora’s back-story would go a long way to regaining good will as well as rounding out this brand new branch of the MCU’s ongoing story.
Who is the Wasp you ask? Frankly, it’s a shame you even have to ask! Janet van Dyne, aka the Wasp, was a founding member of the Avengers. In fact, she was the one to give the team its name. Cunning and capable, she led the team for many years (Captain America is the only member who can boast about beating her in length of leadership).
Joss Whedon reportedly wanted Wasp to be part of Avengers; it was possible – at the time – that Scarlett Johansson would be unavailable to return as Black Widow. Johansson turned out to be available, of course, and the rest is history. 2015’s Ant-Man is just around the corner, and would be another excellent opportunity to introduce this historic character, as she was the wife of Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man.
Unfortunately, it seems that Ant-Man has preemptively, yet retroactively, fridged Janet Van Dyne via an off-screen, male character’s back-story death. Why? No one is really sure at this point, though there is much speculation that this is to save face for Pym’s character by neatly omitting his history as an abusive husband.
With the movie not yet released, I say it isn’t too late to make a solo Wasp film work. So they want her written out of Ant-Man. That’s fine! Let’s just go with a brave-enough-to-leave-her-abuser divorce. Then power her up and unleash her as a feisty female heroine kicking butt and taking names. Just as Captain America provided a great opportunity to have fun in the 40’s, a Wasp feature would be a great excuse to play hero in the 60’s and 70’s. Moreover, it would be a great opportunity to have Janet cross paths with established characters like a post-war Peggy or a young Nick Fury.
Of course, these are merely off-the-cuff ideas based on characters already (or soon to be) introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With decades of history, Marvel has their pick of awesome ladies to choose from, almost any of which would be equally engaging as a talking tree or anthropomorphic raccoon.
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