It’s hard out there for a female superhero. Not only do purse-stealing villains tell you, “you’re cute when you’re angry” before getting kicked in the gonads (at least he isn’t asking for a smile?), but bro-“feminist” Hollywood producers won’t take you seriously when you pitch your own summer blockbuster.
Jordan Zakarin and Alison Vingiano created a tongue-in-cheek / slightly-too-close-for-comfort video short about what it would look like if a hero named Angelfire (played by Vingiano) tried to pitch her life story as a movie. Spoiler alert: people are only interested if there is a male co-hero, a male hot zombie/alien/shapeshifter love interest or if the tagline can be “Justice… is a bitch.”
While the first episode of the developing web series, called Adventures of Angelfire, is a comedy, it hits on the hot button issue of women in superhero movies.
“I cover entertainment and specifically movies for a living, and more and more, that is synonymous with covering superhero movies,” Zakarin, a reporter at The Wrap, tells TIME in an email. “And I love some of them! But it baffles me why women can lead every other kind of film (and make a ton of money for studios doing it!), but there’s such reluctance to do that with superhero films. Why is that? There have been a few in the past that underperformed, but we’re in an era where people take these movies seriously, and with the right filmmakers, there’s no reason why they couldn’t be hits.”
While some trolling YouTube commenters are displeased with the idea of a female hero — the creators have been erasing comments exalting constructive criticism like, “wtf is her superpower supposed to be? menstrual bleeding?” — moviegoers are making it clear that they’re ready for a woman to headline a superhero flick.
A recent analysis by Vocativ found that movies with strong female leads who have dialogue revolving around more than just dudes make more money than the competition. Comic book films with women in the ensemble (as heroes rather than damsels in distress) have also been performing well. X-Men: Days of Future Past earned more than The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Guardians of the Galaxy boasted the biggest August opening weekend of all time — oh, and 40% of the audience was female.
With the president of Marvel Studios giving an interview this month that he hopes a female superhero movie will happen “sooner rather than later” followed by Sony’s pledge to create a female-centered movie set in the Spider-Man universe, things are starting to look up.
Who knows, maybe as the web series continues, Angelfire will get her big Hollywood break, too.