Leaked Email From Marvel CEO Betrays Reluctance For Female Superhero Movie


Well, I’d imagine there are some folks on Twitter who’ll have something to say about this. Indiewire’s Women and Hollywood blog did a little snooping through WikiLeak’s searchable database of emails from the infamous Sony hack and turned up an email from Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter, sent to Sony’s Michael Lynton, that seems to support accusations that Marvel is dragging its feet on female-led superhero movies.

The email in question, bluntly titled “Female Movies,” is a follow-up to a phone call between Perlmutter and Lynton that presumably revolved around whether studios should be investing more time and money in projects led by female characters. Perlmutter, at least, suggests his lack of confidence in a “female movie” to yield solid box office returns:

“From: “IP”
To: “Lynton, Michael”
Subject: Female Movies
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2014 05:32:50 -0400

As we discussed on the phone, below are just a few examples. There are more.



1. Electra (Marvel) – Very bad idea and the end result was very, very bad. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=elektra.htm

2. Catwoman (WB/DC) – Catwoman was one of the most important female character within the Batmanfranchise. This film
was a disaster. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=catwoman.htm

3. Supergirl – (DC) Supergirl was one of the most important female super hero in Superman franchise. This Movie
came out in 1984 and did $14 million total domestic with opening weekend of $5.5 million. Again, another disaster.



Pretty damning, don’t you think? What’s most obvious from this email is how close-minded Perlmutter is in his analysis of what constitutes a “female movie.” The exec seems to be talking about superhero films here, and he points to three box-office disappointments as evidence that, at best, it’s tricky to get the tone for a female-led superhero movie right, or, at worst, that it’s time to stop trying.

Of course, what’s doubly stupid about Perlmutter’s approach here is that he’s assuming the presence of a female lead is what caused the movies in question to flop. ElectraCatwoman and Supergirl were all critically reviled and came long before the current superhero movie boom (Supergirl came out in 1984, for crying out loud!) so it makes little to no sense to hold them up as examples of why, in 2015 (or last year, when the email was sent), making a female-led superhero movie is a bad idea. Meanwhile, women have powered non-romantic blockbusters that grossed huge numbers time and time again in recent years, from Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games to Angelina Jolie in Maleficent.

Additionally, male-led superhero movies have flopped more often than female-led ones have. Take a long look at Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Green LanternJonah HexThe Lone RangerPunisher: War Zone and even the dearly beloved Dredd if you need some examples. Female representation is just not the determining factor in box office success.

When DC’s Wonder Woman hits theaters on June 23, 2017, perhaps that will finally silence the naysayers like Perlmutter – because that movie is going to make boatloads, no question. Marvel will be a little behind DC, but it’s making progress too, having set Captain Marvel for 2018. The age of female-led superheroes is dawning, at last.

Until those two films, though, audiences will have to endure “male movie” after “male movie” and question why a genre devoted to extraordinary individuals who risk their lives to save humankind remains such a sausagefest after all this time. The blame lies with execs who see the world through the same narrow lens as Perlmutter – and luckily, as Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel loom, their days are most certainly limited.