I don’t give a damn about Spider-Man.

Spider-Man is Sam’s all-time favorite superhero. He loves him so much! He was so excited last fall when he saw a Spider-Man costume in the Halloween aisle that he begged to buy it with his own money (I bought it for him). He plays him when we play Marvel Super-Heroes. He LOVES Spider-Man.

So I really want to be excited that Marvel has reclaimed the film rights from Sony, and Spidey can be a part of the MCU. But I can’t.

There have been hundreds of male-led superhero movies. HUNDREDS. Half a dozen of them were about Spider-Man. The first superhero movie–Mask of Zorro–was made in 1920. The first superhero movie with a female lead–Supergirl–was made in 1984. There have been five since. FIVE. At least one of which was direct-to-video. There won’t be another until Wonder Woman in 2017 and Captain Marvel in 2018. (Side note, Captain Marvel was supposed to come out on my 40th birthday. Now it’s being pushed back several months for yet another Spidey movie.)

And don’t even get me started on non-white superheroes. In 1977 there was apparently a blaxploitation movie called Abar, the First Black Superman. If we count it, the grand total is ONE. (I should say that I am not counting superhero teams here, just solo leads. But even if I count teams, nada.) ETA: sorry, I missed the Blade movies, and have been informed that Steel and Meteor Man were also men of color. So they are tied with women. Yay.

(Please note that I’m discussing U.S. movies only. Source.)

Will was excited when the Spider-Man news hit. He imagined Sam’s delight at seeing Spidey interact with Thor. I wish I had the privilege of being excited. Sam will never know what it’s like to have no superheroes to represent his gender. Where are the superheroes who look like Grace?

My daughter is growing up in a world that tells her, every day, by omission if not overtly, that SHE IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. SHE CANNOT BE A HERO. And that is unacceptable.

So no, I do not give a damn about Spider-Man.

5 thoughts on “I don’t give a damn about Spider-Man.

  1. BookGeekGrrl

    February 10, 2015 at 11:20am

    I might be a baby bit excited if I thought there was a hope in hell that it would be the Miles Morales Spider-Man. But it won’t be. And I’m totally with you on this.

  2. Axey

    February 10, 2015 at 1:51pm

    Here’s the thing, and call it devil’s advocate or whatever.

    Movies are about money. Plain and simple. They are made to generate revenue. Production companies are traditionally loath to risk an investment on something that isn’t, by their estimation, guaranteed to make bank.

    Female super-hero movies have traditionally tanked. That’s not an opinion. It just keeps happening. In my view that’s not because they had female leads–it was because they were badly done. But the proof is in the pudding. The boring Elektra film, the abysmal Catwoman… even Supergirl, which by my estimation wasn’t terrible, still didn’t measure up even remotely to her cousin’s feature films in terms of success.

    You could argue that the proof is so small (three movies–oh, maybe toss the wretched Red Sonja film in there if we’re including all Marvel franchises) that they shouldn’t be judged by ANY scale. But production companies will do that. Nobody wants to tank.

    The Spider-Man franchise is the closest thing you get to a box-office guarantee. They could cast a complete unknown actor in the title role and it will still make a gajillion dollars.

    Don’t get me wrong, I hate the idea of yet another Spider-Man reboot. Hell, I hated the current reboot. But we’re not dealing with a secret, shadowy, women-hating cabal. We’re dealing with businesspeople, pure and simple.

    Women make up the majority in the U.S. If a quarter of them banded together and plopped down their hard-earned money for every single female-led superhero franchise that came down the pike, we’d see two or three every year.

    • Annika

      February 10, 2015 at 5:34pm

      I don’t think I’m under any delusions about the film industry being a business. But it is a poorly run business that serves only the white men who are in charge of it. I’ve spent most of my adult life peripherally involved in some way or another and it’s a giant pile of crap.

      People who are top dog don’t want anyone else to succeed, and if you’re the default (as white men are) it literally never occurs to you that no one else is being served. So the people in charge have zero reason to disturb the status quo, even though it would better serve everyone else.

      If you look only at straight box office, it’s easy to say all female superhero movies have bombed. But what were their budgets? Did they have bankable stars? Big name directors? How was the advertising and marketing? How did all of those things stack up to the male lead counterparts?

      Also, can we talk about how a superhero movie with a male lead that made $82 million wouldn’t make us say that male leads aren’t bankable? And yet that is how much Catwoman made, despite starring a woman of color. That same year, The Punisher made $54 million. We didn’t stop making comic book movies. The following year, Son of the Mask made $57 million. Did we stop making sequels to comic book movies? Yeah, no. Because they starred white dudes, so they didn’t have to represent all movies ever made starring white dudes.

      In 2013 and 2014, action movies starring women based on source material (The Hunger Games and Catching Fire) were the top-grossing movies. If Hollywood really were run like a proper business, every studio would be falling over themselves to make more action movies starring women based on source material. You know what fits that description? COMIC BOOK MOVIES ABOUT LADIES.

      There isn’t some secret conspiracy. It’s way out in the open.

      • Axey

        February 11, 2015 at 2:01am

        You clearly have some rather set-in-stone beliefs as to the secret powers of white men (since you name-dropped them like four times). I find them normal. Viva la difference.

        The Hunger Games and Catching Fire both starred one woman, Jennifer Lawrence, who happens to be the most bankable actress on the planet at the moment. I note you’re not criticizing her whiteness, which is weird, since that production was heavily criticized for having a “whites only” policy in their Katniss hunt. (Not sure if you read the books, but Katniss is described as “olive-skinned and black-haired”, and Collins has in interviews past mentioned she imagined Katniss as a “mixed-race” young woman.)

        (The people in charge of this whitewashed color-centric choice? The producers: Robin Bissell, Diana Alvarez, and the author herself, Suzanne Collins. Hardly white men.)

        Halle Berry, when she landed Catwoman, was at the height of her A-list power. You say you’ve worked in Hollywood (so do I, but I’m just a TV critic), so then you know Will Smith ruled summertime box office for full on five years, and no one would ever accuse him of being white. Eddie Murphy years before.

        This is the truth: If a production company thinks they can make a dollar off anybody–be they Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Will Smith, Carrot Top–anyone at all, then they will attempt to do so. No film-making company deliberately sabotages its own product in order to “keep the women and minorities down”.

        The REAL problem is there remains a belief in Hollywood production that audiences need “sympathetic” and “relate-able” actors playing the parts in potential blockbusters if they have a chance to rake, and too many times a white face is how they translate this. This is what needs to change, and, again, only time and box office success will do that.

        Your depiction of people in power is accurate, though anyone in power seeks to maintain that hold. It’s not a white male trait. The success of women and minorities acting or directing their movies does not threaten them; the only thing that would threaten their “hold on power” (Hail Hydra!) would be women and minorities moving into THEIR position, not the ones working on or starring in products that put money in their pockets.

        99.9% of the time it’s greed. It’s money. That’s it.

        P.S. You don’t for a single moment believe that Captain Marvel will make more money than Spider-Man. Right? You know why it was moved.

        • Annika

          February 11, 2015 at 9:52am

          You seem to be confused. I called out white men because they’re the ones in charge. You find them normal because they’re the ones in charge.

          Jennifer Lawrence is the most bankable star because of the Hunger Games, not the other way around. She was not a box office guarantee when she was cast in The Hunger Games. She was much beloved for her performance in Winter’s Bone, which made $6 million. X-Men: First Class came out after she was cast in Hunger Games, and made decent box office, but no sane person would claim she was the reason for that. It’s an ensemble movie in an established series. And again, she had already been cast as Katniss.

          (To your aside, yes, I’ve read the books. Being of Mediterranean descent, I read “olive” to mean she looked like me, but I recognize that I was thinking narrowly. I would certainly have preferred a non-white actress. But that isn’t really the point, since I was talking about gender.)

          I think I’ve provided ample evidence that it isn’t just about money. If it were, there would be more movies about women.

          And no, of course I don’t think Captain Marvel will do better than Spider-Man. Only Batman ever has. Not being as big as the top three male superheroes (Supes is the third) doesn’t mean a movie isn’t worthwhile. And it certainly doesn’t mean I can’t be upset that it is no longer my birthday present.

Comments are closed.