Monday, May 11, 2015

A Reel Opinion: Women Can Be Heroes Too.

In case you just arrived on this planet and aren’t up to date on the current state of cinema, superhero movies are a pretty big thing these days. Critics, fans, and the general public love them, and major studios such as Disney/Marvel, Warner Bros/DC Comics, Fox and Sony have super-films lined up well into the next decade. But the one glaring chink in that super-armor has been the lack of female-led superhero films. As explained by Reel Speak last week HERE, although both Marvel and DC have plans for one such film a-piece, there has been a general lack of interest from studio-suits to greenlight more of them. However, the events of this past weekend makes this Blogger believe that a new hope is rising. 

Once again, this Blogger was pleased too once again attend Wizard Con Philadelphia. The 15th annual comic-con had its usual grand collection of movie and TV stars, vendors, exhibitors, gaming displays, and of course…cosplayers. This year’s comic-con had its usual share of female cosplayers doing sexed-up versions of Harley Quinn (more than usual this year, thanks to the upcoming DC film which features the character), Catwoman, Wonder Woman, Poison Ivy, and Black Widow. But there was a new character to be seen on the floor…that of Marvel’s relatively new character, Agent Peggy Carter. 

Portrayed by actress Hayley Atwell, Agent Peggy Carter first appeared on the big-screen in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER in 2011, and would later reprise the character in Cap’s sequel THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014), along with AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015), and this summer’s ANT-MAN. The character became so popular that it inspired an ongoing TV series called AGENT CARTER, and at this year’s comic-con in Philadelphia, also inspired many young women, and girls, to dress up as the 1940’s version of the character. In an age when cosplaying for women usually means showing off midriffs and letting cleavage hang out everywhere, it was certainly something different to see so many costumes in the conservative-manner that Agent Peggy Carter appears in. 

But the real revelation came at Hayley Atwell’s question-and-answer forum which was attended by several thousand fans…with most of them young girls. The 33-year old Atwell was seemingly humbled by the attention she was getting, and most especially by the feedback from the young ladies who were fortunate enough to make it to the microphone to speak to her. The young ladies and girls made sure Atwell knew how much of an inspiration she had become in their lives by way of touching stories and outright gratitude. Atwell in return shared a story or two about the response she gets daily from young girls, including one story with ending with “women can be heroes too”. There was something special in the air at this forum; a feeling of gratitude going both ways…along with a new generation of superhero fans who are finally getting what they have sought after for so long…a hero of their own. Ms. Atwell seems to accept her new responsibility with grace and humbleness, and the impact she has had on those in attendance could be felt as strong as a punch. This Blogger has attended many conventions over the years, and this one was by far the most memorable and powerful. 

As explored by Reel Speak HERE last week, the reluctance of studios to put a female in the lead role of a superhero film may just be the tip of iceberg, and points towards the larger issue of women being underpaid and often overlooked in Hollywood. But in the meantime, they all should take notice of the incredible shift that was evident in Philadelphia’s Wizard World comic-con. The increasing involvement of women at comic-cons and at the movie theatre will be a long-lasting step in the right direction…and finally give them the leading cinematic heroine that they, and the world needs and deserves. 

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