After years of claiming that female-led superhero films are box-office poison, Hollywood has realized that they’re more like box-office photon blasts, blowing away the competition. Like Wonder Woman before it, Captain Marvel opened to record-breaking numbers in the U.S. — and unlike its DC predecessor, Marvel’s film is also doing gangbusters overseas. Now that female-led superhero films are big business, expect the studios to announce a whole lot more of them in the coming months. Meanwhile, here’s a guide to all the female-centric superhero films already in production, and some speculation about which super-powered ladies are next in line for their own movies.
The next female superhero to helm her own film will also be a supervillain. In Fox’s upcoming X-Men movie Dark Phoenix (in theaters June 7), Sophie Turner reprises her role as the telepathic mutant Jean Grey. When her powers start to spiral out of her control, Jean becomes the evil Dark Phoenix. Though it’s an ensemble film, Dark Phoenix will focus on Turner’s character, with major roles for Jennifer Lawrence (as Mystique) and Jessica Chastain.
Watch a trailer for Dark Phoenix:
At the start of 2020, Hollywood’s first all-female superhero team will hit the big screen in Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Margot Robbie stars as her breakout Suicide Squad character Harley, who assembles a group of powerful women (including Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress) to rescue a kidnapped girl with superhero potential (Cassandra Cain, played by newcomer Ella Jay Basco). The film (in theaters Feb. 7, 2020) is directed by Cathy Yan with a screenplay by Christina Hodson.
Watch a teaser trailer for Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn):
Next summer, director Patty Jenkins will be back with another adventure for Diana Prince. Wonder Woman 1984 (in theaters June 5, 2020) sends Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) into the Reagan era, where she gets involved in the Cold War and encounters a new antagonist (Cheetah, played by Kristen Wiig). Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen will reprise their roles as Amazon warriors, and Diana’s love interest Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), presumed dead in battle after the first film, is somehow back to rock a track suit.
After Wonder Woman 1984, we have two films that don’t have release dates, but are set to start shooting in 2019. One is Black Widow, the long-awaited solo film for Scarlett Johansson’s Avengers super-spy, directed by Cate Shortland. The other is Marvel’s The Eternals, which will be directed by Chloe Zhao and reportedly has the female character Sersi in the leading role.
Beyond that, the field is wide open — but a few established franchises have already planted the seed for female superheroes to take center stage. One is Black Panther, which introduced Wakandan princess Shuri (Letitia Wright). In the comics, Shuri eventually becomes Black Panther. Don’t be surprised if Black Panther 2 puts Shuri in the panther suit (which she designed, after all).
Captain Marvel also took the opportunity to introduce a young Monica Rambeau (Akira Akbar), who in the comics becomes both the superhero Photon and another version of Captain Marvel. Since she’s a kid when the film is set in the ’90s, she should be just around the right age to hang with the Avengers in the present day.
Other female superheroes who have been established in the film worlds include Vanessa Carlysle, a.k.a. Copycat (Morena Baccarin) and Domino (Zazie Beetz) in the Deadpool movies; She-Venom (Michelle Williams) in Venom; Cassandra Cain, a.k.a. Batgirl in Birds of Prey; and potential Shazam Family members Mary Marvel (Michelle Borth) and Darla Dudley (Meagan Good) in the upcoming Shazam! An animated Spider-Gwen (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld) was introduced in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and has spinoff potential. The Avengers films have brought us characters like Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Wasp (Evangeline Lily, who shared top billing with Paul Rudd’s character Ant-Man and the Wasp), and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen, who will soon be getting her own Disney Plus streaming TV series). And Fox’s horror film The New Mutants (opening Aug. 2) will bring even more female Marvel heroes into the equation.
At the moment, Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman are still the only contemporary female superheroes to get their own solo films — but within a few years, they should have a lot of company.
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