After 19 male-led superhero movies, how much progress does Wonder Woman represent?

By Connor Behrens

Marvel and DC Comics have made a combined 19 superhero movies since they started turning their respective comic characters into interconnected movie franchises in 2008. Of those 19, a women has played the movie’s top role in exactly zero.

That changes June 2, when DC/Warner Bros. releases “Wonder Woman,” with Gal Gadot playing the titular character.

The film, directed by Patty Jenkins — one of only three women to direct a live-action film with a budget of over $100 million — is another step forward for women in the superhero and science fiction sphere, coming on the heels of Katherine Waterston’s starring role in “Alien Covenant” and a pair of new Star Wars movies (“The Force Awakens” and “Rogue One”) that, respectively, featured Daisey Ridley and Felicity Jones playing the films’ main protagonists.

But while one is better than none, the fact remains that DC and Marvel made a combined 19 superhero movies with men in the lead before starring a woman. (Warner Bros.’ relatively new DC Extended Universe has made 4, whereas Marvel has made 15).

So will “Wonder Woman” be an irregularity, or is the film’s breakthrough the beginning of a new era of frequent female protagonists in a field of films that have thus far been male-dominated?

Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, leads a team that has been taking a truth lasso to the numbers since 1998. And while she has found Hollywood still functions far from parity, there are minor signs of improvement.

Overall, the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film found that women made up 29 …read more

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