Superhero films need a certain sort of lead actress. Beautiful, of course, and feminine. But also charismatic, grounded, competent, and able to project either sensitivity or moxie at the drop of a hat. Female lead characters in comics largely constitute the moral compass of their respective books, and can be counted on to do the right thing even when they are alone in risking danger. Golden-Age properties in particular simply can’t do without women of brass.
It is gratifying to see that some of our dreammakers have absorbed this lesson. It is instructive to see that others have not.
The positive news comes from the camp of the new Superman reboot, where director Zack Snyder has announced his selection of Amy Adams for the role of Lois Lane. After my disappointment at Superman Returns, I cannot help but welcome the involvement of a talented visual artist such as Snyder and the guiding hands of Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer. And though I had no complaints with Kate Bosworth, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the latest in a long string of roles Adams will convince us she was born to play. Her films have ranged from towering peak to occasional valley, but has she ever been anything less than consistently excellent in them?
The negative news comes, of course, with the revelation that another initialed David (this one E. Kelley, better known for his legal dramas) has followed up a seemingly reasonable casting choice for his new Wonder Woman series with the worst super-suit since the abomination foisted upon Carl Ciarfalio. I do not know whether Adrianne Palicki was the right actress to play the Amazon princess, though I suspect she’ll give it a serviceable effort. But she won’t be helped by being made up to look like a vapid fantasy escort. Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl assembled more realistic costumes.
Of course there are significant differences between a film and a television series. Yet the principle for success remains the same: good actors interpreting a good script while not being made to look ridiculous. Adams won’t suffer that fate. Palicki seems well on her way. Who could take Wonder Woman seriously in an outfit like that? The Superman team landed a Lois Lane who could stand beside the Man of Steel as an equal. Meanwhile, if Palicki is saddled with the consequences of a few more bad decisions, she could be in danger of taking a backseat to Cary Elwes on what is ostensibly her show.
What do you think?