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DC Doesn’t Want to Animate Super-Heroines
April 27, 2010

As part of the promotion for the just-announced Batman: Under the Red Hood animated movie, Bruce Timm was interviewed by Think McFly Think. In this piece, he reveals that

We had originally planned to do sequels for Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, but Wonder Woman’s sales started out extremely slow and then over time were eventually able to catch up to probably Justice League Frontier. The execs decided because it wasn’t able to sell quickly right away, whereas Justice League was, that there wouldn’t be any more female superhero films right now. We were developing and hoping to get started on a Batgirl film based on Year One, but because of Wonder Woman’s slow sales start, that won’t be happening now.

With Green Lantern, it didn’t perform nearly as well as what they had hoped it would. In the long run it eventually made its money back, but the sales weren’t there right away during its release. Hopefully with the release of the live action film next year, that will open up the doors for more Green Lantern-related material.

I’m very sorry we won’t see a Batgirl film, because I think I’d enjoy that. (Director Lauren Montgomery has a different explanation; she says the execs only want Superman or Batman lead stories.) This is typical executive thinking, by the way — it couldn’t be that the WW film wasn’t as good as the others (maybe) or the story was too familiar, it has to be that “girls don’t sell.” (If you can jump to a conclusion, as a movie exec, jump to the widest one possible.) And frankly, the way they’re presenting these movies, they *are* aimed at boys. For instance, take this other Timm quote, about Red Hood:

It’s definitely a very dark and intense movie, It’s not geared towards the “soccer moms”, or young kids. I’d say it deals with very serious subject matter, and it’s a very violent film.

Then comes discussion of what they may have to cut or tone down to keep their PG-13 rating, since Watchmen having tanked (his word) meant R-rated superheroes are a no-no for Warner’s executives and marketing team. Also, he reveals that the Judas Contract is a no-go, since “it was done recently [in the Teen Titans series], and it worked. It would be redundant to do something different right now.”

Getting back to the topic of sales, it’s interesting to note that both New Frontier (February 26) and Wonder Woman (March 3) came out in early spring, while Green Lantern (July 28) and Batman: Gotham Knight (July 8) were summer releases. The most recent DVD, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, came out February 23, so it would be interesting to know how those sales compared to WW, although a story with a whole team of heroes is going to interest more people than a solo hero. Personally, I would like to see more original stories — I don’t see the point of watching an animated adaptation of a comic you already know. A new story with favorite superheroes would be more exciting, I think, but requires more development costs.

Update: (4/28/10) The latest Warner marketing email brags that Under the Red Hood will be heavily advertised with “national ads [that] target males 18-34 and boys 13-17″. So yeah, girls don’t matter when it comes to superhero cartoons. Which shouldn’t surprise me. What does surprise me is the conviction that only females want to watch female heroes. Although that’s a common Hollywood idea, too.

17 Responses  
James Schee writes:  

That’s too bad about the Batgirl film. If they were going to follow the Year One story it could have been really good, as that was one of the better miniseries DC’s done in a long time.

 
John Jakala writes:  

That’s a bummer. I just borrowed a couple of the “Batman: Brave & The Bold” DVDs from the library and while both of my kids enjoyed the episodes, my daughter kept asking, “When are they going to have a girl superhero?” Having a daughter really does make me view issues of gender inequity in entertainment much differently.

 
Johanna writes:  

Good for her for noticing — I hope she doesn’t learn to settle and keeps asking for entertainment that reflects her existence and interests.

 
Chris G. writes:  

WB seems to be reading its sales figures poorly. The Wonder Woman movie was (IMHO) pretty awful, so the fact that it wound up selling as well as New Frontier over the long term should tell them that there’s an audience that’s willing to seek out a movie with a strong female lead. The solution should be to make better movies with female leads, not stop making movies starring female leads.

 
Johanna writes:  

Sadly, Warner has a history of deciding against movies that star women.

 
Thad writes:  

Wonder Woman was middling. It was better than Doomsday — and I don’t know if that one sold better because it was Superman or because it was the first Timm work in awhile.

At least she’s still open for ensemble shows — she was much better in New Frontier than her solo outing anyway. (In general I would agree that new stories are better than adaptations, but New Frontier is an exception; it’s the best of the direct-to-video releases.

Nice to get a little common sense on The Judas Contract, though. That was my reaction when it was announced: “They just did that. Like two years ago.”

Course, that brings me dangerously close to a “Why did they cancel Teen Titans?” rant, which at least fits the topic of broad executive stupidity. Why is there a Logan’s Run rule that every children’s show has to end after five years regardless of how well it’s actually doing? Titans went from running literally half-a-dozen times a day to cancelled, more or less overnight.

Timm’s said before that a Wonder Woman series is a no-go because 8-year-old boys won’t buy Wonder Woman toys. (I remember that when I was a kid, She-Ra got around this by integrating her villains into the He-Man toy line.) Stinks, because I’d watch any series with Timm’s name on it (though if I were to pick one franchise with unexplored series potential, it’d be Green Lantern Corps).

 
Thad writes:  

Incidentally:

“We were actually working on something a couple years ago that was planned to have an R Rating. It was a very popular book, I’m not allowed to say what it was, but it was before Watchmen came out.”

…so this is the kind of people we’re talking about: people who think The Dark Knight Returns would be a failure. Yeah, just no reasoning with guys like that.

“That’s not to say it won’t ever happen, I’m sure at some point it is a possibility.”

Like, say, when the big marketing push for Batman 3 hits…

 
Chad writes:  

Timm’s said before that a Wonder Woman series is a no-go because 8-year-old boys won’t buy Wonder Woman toys.

Arrrgggghh! What about 8-year-old girls? Like John, I’ve got a daughter, and it always blows my mind that DC doesn’t do more to promote Wonder Woman to young girls.

As I’ve said before over here, girls buy tons of princess stuff, and Wonder Woman is a princess.

In the link to Lauren Montgomery’s blog, she mentions a Batgirl: Year One motion comic, which is available at Amazon. Might have to check it out.

 
Jer writes:  

On the one hand – movie executives are stupid and the idea that “no one wants to see female superheroes” is being extrapolated from “sales on the direct to DVD Wonder Woman movie were low” makes me want to kick someone’s ass.

On the other hand – this does mean that we’re going to avoid a few more crappy DC Direct-to-DVD animated movies that only serve to get my hopes up and then dash them on the rocks of mediocrity (or worse).

Really, the place where I want to see animation pick up more female superheroes is on the stuff aimed at kids anyway. These “aimed at adults” direct-to-DVD movies have been soooo disappointing, I think precisely because they’re aiming them at adults rather than aiming them at intelligent kids with a winks and nods towards the adult viewers (like most of DC’s animation in the 90s managed to do). Same mistake the comics have been making for a few decades.

 
Jim Perreault writes:  

Wonder Woman probably sold poorly because it was hard to find. I could not find it anywhere.

 
Chad writes:  

Really, the place where I want to see animation pick up more female superheroes is on the stuff aimed at kids anyway. These “aimed at adults” direct-to-DVD movies have been soooo disappointing, I think precisely because they’re aiming them at adults rather than aiming them at intelligent kids with a winks and nods towards the adult viewers (like most of DC’s animation in the 90s managed to do). Same mistake the comics have been making for a few decades.

A well-meaning buddy sent my kids the Green Lantern and Superman & Batman: Public Enemies DVDs, and there is nothing weirder than having to tell your super-jazzed children that a superhero DVD isn’t for kids.

 
ben c writes:  

holy crap!

i had the exact same problem — i draw comics, so my 3 year old girls love watching superhero cartoons. my wife grabbed the public enemies DVD thinking “superman and batman! what could go wrong?”
then a man ripped his face off to reveal glowing green eyes in a robotic skull. that was fun to explain to the kiddies.

(in fairness, my wife didn’t look at the big age warning on the package, so it’s not like it’s WB’s fault. but it would be nice to show my kids superhero cartoons that weren’t made in the 1940s. and also, anything involving a cartoon princess that ISN’T disney would be nice, for once.)

 
Louis writes:  

Whatever happened to “if at first you don’t succeed”, “keep hammering”, or “snowball effect.” All of it is wasted if TPTB just quit. The live/CGI Green Lantern film next year would benefit from a sequel and, given the unlikelihood of a WW live action film anytime soon, a sequel to the animated film makes all the sense in the world as far as building on her exposure.

For what it’s worth, I’ve started a petition.

http://www.petitiononline.com/Batman22/petition.html

 
Hsifeng writes:  

Chad Says:

Timm’s said before that a Wonder Woman series is a no-go because 8-year-old boys won’t buy Wonder Woman toys.

“Arrrgggghh! What about 8-year-old girls? Like John, I’ve got a daughter, and it always blows my mind that DC doesn’t do more to promote Wonder Woman to young girls.

“As I’ve said before over here, girls buy tons of princess stuff, and Wonder Woman is a princess…”

Chad Says:

“…A well-meaning buddy sent my kids the Green Lantern and Superman & Batman: Public Enemies DVDs, and there is nothing weirder than having to tell your super-jazzed children that a superhero DVD isn’t for kids.”

ben c Says:

“holy crap!

“i had the exact same problem — i draw comics, so my 3 year old girls love watching superhero cartoons. my wife grabbed the public enemies DVD thinking ‘superman and batman! what could go wrong?’

“then a man ripped his face off to reveal glowing green eyes in a robotic skull. that was fun to explain to the kiddies.

“(in fairness, my wife didn’t look at the big age warning on the package, so it’s not like it’s WB’s fault…”

Hmm.

Is the problem with the gender disaprity in advertising DC marketing these brands too little to 8-year-old girls or too much to 8-year-old boys…?

 
Next DC Original Animated Film Is Another Superman/Batman » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[...] homepage is reporting will be the cover for Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, due out September 28. As expected, Warner is sticking with the big brand-name properties now, focusing on well-known characters. [...]

 
glenn blackwell writes:  

The reason Wonder Woman did not sell, was the art. The person drawing her, did a terrible job.
With the new “awful” costume, you can bury sales.

Simple formula:
Art sells the cover. Story sells the comic.
Hot muscular amazon in tiny costume fighting evil.

Sexy visuals appeal to the male buyers.
Strong dialog appeals to the female buyers.
Wonder Woman is a gold mine, if done right.

 
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse » DVDs Worth Watching writes:  

[...] this movie. If you’re disappointed about how DC and Warner have been treating some of their lead women lately, check this out for an [...]

 

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