In a leaked email between Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter and Sony CEO Michael Lynton, Perlmutter offered up three examples of terrible female-led super hero films --- Elektra, Catwoman, and Supergirl --- as part of what some have theorized was a conversation about why the studios should not create more female-led super hero films. There's a lot of speculation involved, but nonetheless it's an interesting email from Perlmutter that has a few possible interpretations.

The email from Perlmutter to Lynton reads:

 

From: "IP"
To: "Lynton, Michael"
Subject: Female Movies
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2014 05:32:50 -0400

Michael,
As we discussed on the phone, below are just a few examples.  There are more.

Thanks,

Ike

1.  Electra (Marvel) – Very bad idea and the end result was very, very bad. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=elektra.htm

2.  Catwoman (WB/DC) - Catwoman was one of the most important female character within the Batmanfranchise. This film was a disaster.  http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=catwoman.htm

3.   Supergirl – (DC) Supergirl was one of the most important female super hero in Superman franchise. This Movie came out in 1984 and did $14 million total domestic with opening weekend of $5.5 million. Again, another disaster.

Best,

Ike

 

Now, let's be honest: without more context, it's impossible to know exactly what they were speaking about. Maybe Perlmutter was explaining how Marvel could make history by actually doing a good "female movie" (ugh that phrasing!). Maybe they were just swapping notes on bad movies that thy hated.

But let's pause for a second and reflect on the fact that Marvel hasn't done so well with women in their cinematic universes. It's entirely possible that the best Marvel women in the movies are in the X-Men franchise, which isn't even controlled by Marvel Studios. Of late, every conversation about Marvel Studios' main superheroine, Black Widow, has been about how poorly she's handled in PR, merchandise, and the movie Avengers: Age of Ultron. Marvel has a "female movie" problem, that's for sure, and one has to hope that this email was about fixing that problem and not an excuse to ignore it.

The most interesting part of what we do know, though, is that given that this email was going back and forth between Marvel and Sony, one has to wonder what the conversation was even about, since Sony only has the rights to Spider-Man. Was Lynton wanting to get another Marvel property, but this time a woman-led one? Or was a woman-led film related to Spider-Man being discussed? It's a little early for it to have been about Spider-Gwen, but could it have been about Spider-Woman? There are a lot of questions raised by this email, and not really any answers.

It's tempting to be angry about this email as one more example of how movie studios and comics companies so often ignore women consumers. But I guess it could be worse --- they could have actually made this: