The numbers are in, and it looks like Ryan Reynolds called it. Deadpool shattered box office records this weekend, grossing an estimated $135 million and nabbing record titles from both The Matrix Reloaded and Fifty Shades of Grey. Just this week, Reynolds — who both produced and starred in the superhero flick — told BuzzFeed, "At the end of the day, I think what they’re going to see is when you put [female superheroes] in … the box office dollars come in too." Obviously, Reynolds has it figured out, but unfortunately, the film industry is still lagging behind when it comes to female representation in superhero movies, often casting them as flat characters that only fill the role of a beautiful damsel in distress.
Not Reynolds, though, and not Deadpool. "We weren’t on some crusade in that instance to say, we need female characters, we need more of that representation. We just liked the characters. It’s as simple as that," Reynolds said. "Superhero movies are largely a male-dominated field in that genre. In the comics they actually do a wonderful job. There’s a million fantastically written three-dimensional female characters that are just waiting to come out."
As someone who feels very passionately about the Jessica Jones series and really only goes to movie theaters when a new Captain America or Fantastic Four is released: amen, Ryan Reynolds. One-half of the population alone didn't lead to those box office numbers.
It's not just that women like watching superhero movies — but there's something distinctly important about watching women kick ass in them. Not only does it motivate me to get myself to the gym for some strength training (because who doesn't want to be as agile and strong as those women?) but, more importantly, it moves towards a culture that doesn't represent half of its population as simply objects to be lusted after, loved, attacked, or won over by the other half. It presents women as complex, independent, smart, and capable. Personally, I think that's a much better thing for young girls — or old girls, or any girls — to aspire towards being, rather than some damsel in distress.
Deadpool provided us with several of those strong women. There's Morena Baccarin, who plays Wade's girlfriend with an attitude; Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead (goth, crew cut, as far from your traditional female representation as possible and awesome); and the villainous Angel Dust, played by Gina Carano.
I think Deadpool's box office numbers are proof enough that women are most definitely into superhero movies. With that kind of cash as an incentive, maybe Hollywood will finally give Black Widow the spinoff she deserves. Then Scarlett Johansson can put her talent towards more box office breakers, rather than being limited to SNL comedy skits on the sexist film industry.
Thanks for the boost, Deadpool. Hollywood, take note.