Women are taking on more leading roles across multiple film genres, including action movies. Within the past few years, female-led titles such as “Captain Marvel,” “Wonder Woman,” and “Star Wars: Episode IX” have all attracted critical praise and made millions of dollars worldwide. For example, when Wonder Woman was released in 2017, it quickly became the second-highest superhero origin film ever released.
So, why are films with strong female leads becoming so popular? It’s never been so easy to create a video website, giving movie fans the ability to publish their opinions and reviews online. If you like to keep up with the latest media trends, you’ll probably have your own theory. Here are the most likely reasons why we’ve seen an upsurge in female-led films:
1. Female-led films are worth watching
Not every film with a female lead is a hit, but plenty of them have earned positive reviews from fans and critics alike – and, regardless of the lead character’s gender, moviegoers will flock to see a good film. Female-led films also make more money at the box office compared to those starring men. Smart directors know that there is a profit to be made in casting women in lead roles. Ultimately, Hollywood is a business, and film studios are primarily concerned with making money.
2. Women like action films and appreciate the positive representation
For a long time, action films were the domain of men. Although Sigourney Weaver’s character Ripley gained cult status in 1979 blockbuster Alien, the film didn’t manage to trigger a long-term change in the industry. Not only did most people assume that only male actors had the skills and presence to pull off lead roles in action films, but the stereotype of the action movie fan was a young man. Directors were reluctant to case women in lead roles.
However, research shows that the gender split among film fans is approximately 50/50, and people aged 25-39 are most likely to go to the cinema. A 2018 Statista survey also found a minimal difference when it came to preferred genres, with many women enjoying action films. Given these findings, it makes sense that female film fans want to see women in leading roles.
3. Social media discussion and campaigns have raised awareness about the role of women in film
The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have triggered widespread discussions about sexism, sexual harassment, diversity, and inclusion. Social media has provided a platform for film fans to talk about these issues in relation to the film industry and push for better representation of women and minority groups. However, it’s important to note that these campaigns began after some of the best-known female-led films were in production.
4. Female action leads are becoming more nuanced
Until recently, lead female characters in action and superhero films were often a combination of stereotypically male traits and manipulative female sexuality. For example, Catwoman has usually been depicted as aloof, unemotional, yet quick to use her sexuality to advance her own agenda. Hollywood’s idea of an independent, powerful woman had no time for relationships and didn’t care to show nuanced, human emotions.
Fortunately, recent action films haven’t shied away from depicting female leads who aren’t afraid to show their feminine side. For example, Diana Prince’s Wonder Woman is enthralled when she sees a baby for the first time and is driven by a sense of empathy. She is brave and determined, yet driven by a strong moral compass and a desire to fight for those who cannot defend themselves. Female audiences may find such a character more relatable than the stereotypical woman in an action film.
Gal Gadot, who won several awards for her role in the film, has made a point of praising other women in public interviews, including the film’s director Patty Jenkins. Both on and off set, “Wonder Woman” appears to have been a big step forward for female empowerment in the industry.
What Does The Future Hold?
Ultimately, Hollywood directors make films they think will rake in profits. Fortunately for those who like female-led action movies, casting women in lead roles is a commercially-sound strategy.
As of 2020, it’s reasonable to expect plenty more strong female characters in upcoming films. For example, in April 2020, the next Bond film will see the introduction of the first woman to play 007. Lashana Lynch, a black British actor who also starred in “Captain Marvel,” will blaze a new trail for women and minority actors in the famous franchise. Other eagerly-awaited titles include “Black Widow” and “Wonder Woman” 1984.