DC Films’ upcoming Wonder Woman has been billed as the world’s first solo female superhero movie. In reality, there have been several, including Elektra in 2005, Catwoman in 2004 and, er, Supergirl in 1984. (Perhaps it would be more accurate to say Wonder Woman is the first female superhero film that has a chance of being any good?)
In any event, it can’t be denied that the superhero genre has been a bit of a sausage fest in recent years. This infographic applies the “Bechdel Test” to 52 superhero films from Marvel and DC. Who comes out on top?
The Bechdel test (AKA Bechdel–Wallace test) attempts to uncover sexism or gender imbalance in fiction by asking two simple questions:
- do two (named) female characters talk to each other?
- do they talk about something other than a male character?
To pass the Bechdel test, a work of fiction must fulfil the above criteria at least once. Needless to say, a lot of superhero movies fail the test.
Doubtlessly many (men) would argue that this is entirely natural given that superhero movies are predominantly marketed at boys and star male actors. While this may have been true a few decades ago, the current crop of superhero films are clearly aimed at both genders and feature multiple female protagonists: so this argument doesn’t really fly.
The infographic below was painstakingly compiled by the party event organiser Twizzle. It pitches the filmography of Marvel against its DC counterpart in a bid to see which brand is the most woman friendly.
As you can see, Marvel just edges out DC in the Bechdel stakes but they both performed pretty dismally – with just 48 per cent of movies passing the test. It’s also worth noting that the included DC movies go all the way back to 1966, whereas the Marvel side starts at 2010. In other words, Marvel really should have done a lot better.