Nerds have it pretty sweet right now. Streaming services keep the fresh (and older) content flowing, Sony’s now fully into the comic book movie game, and the CW keeps churning out its TV series. And even though Martin Scorsese is not thrilled about the situation, we live in an age where comic book movies dominate the multiplexes. Granted, things were a little rough a handful of years ago. Yes, the Marvel Cinematic Universe pleased crowds, but it lacked the nuance of Phase Three, and things got a little too “gritty” with with Warner Bros. DC movies going dark, which a lot of people blame on Zack Snyder. Nerds remain generally divided about that darkening, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Not only are DC movies taking a more optimistic, complex turn, but there are bonuses coming for female nerds in 2020.
Is this a reward for patience and sticking around while buying tickets for the male-fronted films? Perhaps. Yet Marvel Studios and Warner Bros. are now willing to make “risky” moves with female-fronted comic book movies. It’s overdue, not even arguably so, long after the failure of Catwoman (2004), and come on, guys, it’s 2019. The audience is certainly there, but it took until 2017 for Warner Bros. to take the plunge with Wonder Woman, which succeeded to the tune of over $800 million. Two years later, the MCU allowed Captain Marvel to reap over $1 billion in box-office sales, and that happened despite an alleged boycott campaign from sexist trolls. Female superheroes (and supervillains) can be quite marketable, too! And in 2020, at least three more high-profile comic book movies — Wonder Woman 1984, Black Widow, and Birds Of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of Harley Quinn) — could bring that same earning power.
Praise be to Themyscira, right? Wonder Woman needed to be a success for studios to have confidence that other females could put butts in movie seats. Diana brought her honest-to-god action moves, along with genuine heroism, tenacity, compassion, and loads of other well-rounded traits. She also brought her game-changing thigh jiggle to work, something that might seem silly to mention, but that was a power move from director Patty Jenkins. No, that jiggle is not an imperfection — it’s a celebration. Women are here to help save the universe, sometimes even on our own, and maybe our body parts are slightly less rock solid than, say, those belonging to the Man of Steel, but those female legs can still get the job done. Just like in the real world where we are balancing child care and making sandwiches along with, you know, getting the job done.
I’m not complaining here, really, but merely observing that female-fronted comic book movies will be a valuable commodity in this nerd-fueled market. As a whole, we’re so incredibly fortunate to live in a time where streaming services, including Disney+ and DC Universe, have launched to resounding effect and with incredibly well-stocked libraries. Who would have thought, even a decade ago, that nearly every Star Wars entry in the franchise would be available online with the push of a button? No one. Coinciding with what feels like the apex of nerd convenience — folks don’t even need to physically dig through comic-book stacks anymore because digital distribution platforms like ComiXology exist — we’re also finally seeing some serious female representation at the cinema. That’s pretty damn cool.
Yes, it’s kind of crazy to think that this is not a standard occurrence, and therefore, it’s cause for a party, but here we are. Remember how thrilled nerds felt upon receiving an Avengers movie, less than a decade ago? Yes, it included Black Widow, but since that time, she’s only appeared as part of an ensemble or as a sidekick to one of the guys, such as in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Well, Natasha Romanoff is about to get her due, and unfortunately, this is only happening as a prequel after she hurled herself off a cliff so that Hawkeye could weep while holding the Soul Stone and return to his family. And so, Natasha’s standalone movie will arrive on May 1, 2020, a full decade after the character’s debut in 2010’s Iron Man 2. Ten years! That’s one year after sexist trolls were upset about Brie Larson fronting a superhero movie while not understanding that, for the most part, white male superheroes have ruled the past decade.
Well, that decade is almost over, and while I’m certainly not arguing for women to take over the world (or even the various cinematic universes), some significant female representation sure is swell. With that said, yes, 2020 suggests a promising decade in that department. Wonder Woman 1984 will hopefully land with the same ferocity as the first movie, and Birds of Prey will follow Harley Quinn as she frees herself from an abusive boyfriend (The Joker, obviously) — a relationship that was romanticized in 2016’s Suicide Squad — and ditches the butt-baring hotpants to form her girl gang of supervillainesses. Hopefully, people will watch DC Universe’s Harley Quinn animated series before the movie arrives because DC Universe devoted out a full season to exploring the painful (yet-still-freewheeling) process of disengaging from her trauma and refusing to follow a man’s lead in her supervillain-y. I do hope her standalone movie will keep that ball rolling with some sheer mayhem in tow.
Not only that, but look for Black Widow to be (from the looks of the footage previewed at D23 and teaser trailer) one of the most action-focused movies of the MCU. That movie takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War when Natasha Romanoff strikes off on her own and goes home. Yes, her hand-to-hand combat skills will (finally) take things back to Budapest. There will be multiple Black Widows. Natasha will do her “pose.” She’ll fight the Taskmaster, who will mimic maneuvers during fights. She’ll essentially be fighting herself! The male sexist trolls might come out to play again. It will be fine. We’ll talk it out. I’m pretty pumped for it all.
Welcome, 2020, we’ve been waiting for your arrival.