It seems like no matter what, Marvel's latest film is going to be a hit. Avengers: Age of Ultron is currently smashing records, and last year's Guardians of the Galaxy, a film starring a talking raccoon that many anticipated being a flop, instantly became one of the best blockbusters of 2014.
But even a near flawless history of success with their Cinematic Universe wasn't enough to convince Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter back in August of 2014 that a female led superhero movie could work.
How do we know? Thanks to leaked emails from the Sony Pictures hack and published by Wikileaks (via Indie Wire), we see an email correspondence between Perlmutter and Sony CEO Michael Lynton that says exactly that. We won't put the whole email here, but here's the jist of it: The subject? "Female Movies." The message? Most female superhero movies bombed, therefore none should ever be made again.
It doesn't take much time or energy to figure out that this is a complete cop-out. Perlmutter lists three box office bombs (Elektra, Catwoman, Supergirl) to make the case that female-led comic book movies can't work, but each of these films are simply bad in their own right, not because they star women. Just because a female superhero film hasn't been done correctly doesn't mean it can't be done.
Perlmutter's entire logic here is even more absurd when you think about the long list of superhero films starring men that have tanked. Superman Returns? Green Lantern? Daredevil? Each film performed poorly and the box office and garnered negative reviews. Is it because they starred men? No, it's because they were bad movies. This isn't exactly rocket science.
Yet there is soon to be another Superman movie. Daredevil has his own TV show. Green Lantern will no doubt make an appearance in the DC cinematic universe. Just because a Supergirl movie crashed and burned more than 30 years ago doesn't mean Supergirl is the problem.
There is, however, still hope. Despite Perlmutter's email, Marvel is moving ahead with a Captain Marvel film as well as Jessica Jones show on Netflix. DC is bringing Wonder Woman to the big screen first in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and later in her own film. Supergirl is getting a show of her own as well, despite her poorly received 1984 movie.
All Perlmutter proves with his email is that women in the spotlight aren't problem. It sounds more like the problem rests solely on those behind the scenes, on the shoulders of people like Perlmutter who seem convinced that it can't work.