In the wake of Avengers: Endgame, 2020 is the year of female superhero movies

The majority of superhero movies next year will be brought to you by female filmmakers and star female superheroes.

Jennifer Bisset Former Senior Editor / Culture
Jennifer Bisset was a senior editor for CNET. She covered film and TV news and reviews. The movie that inspired her to want a career in film is Lost in Translation. She won Best New Journalist in 2019 at the Australian IT Journalism Awards.
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  • Best New Journalist 2019 Australian IT Journalism Awards
Jennifer Bisset
4 min read

2020 will be a big one for female superhero movies.

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Avengers: Endgame pretty much did it all this year. It yoinked Avatar's title as biggest box office earner of all time and was hailed as so special it "elevated the genre." The superhero movie to end all superhero movies, it tied the knot on 22  Marvel films that filled 11 years with some of the biggest blockbusters on the planet.

So what's next? What can Marvel possibly follow up with after seemingly concluding the story of the original Avengers?

Aside from embarking on a very serious Oscars campaign, Marvel is looking at some upheaval. And in 2020, its movie lineup may lead to some big changes.

In 2020, The New Mutants, Black Widow and The Eternals will rocket out of the MCU . Two of those are ensembles; The New Mutants led by Maisie Williams and Anya Taylor-Joy, and The Eternals, fronted by Angelina Jolie. Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson, is a prequel that fleshes out the spy's Russian origins.

Pair those with DC's two superhero movies in 2020, Wonder Woman 1984 and Birds of Prey, and there's a common thread. All those films, bar The New Mutants, are directed by women. All five feature women in lead roles.


The New Mutants stars Anya Taylor-Joy (middle), Maisie Williams (right), alongside Charlie Heaton (left), Henry Zaga and Blu Hunt.

20th Century Fox/Disney

If 2020 is a repeat of 2019, comic book movies will dominate the box office. Three out of the five top-grossing movies this year are superhero flicks. So there's a sizable chance the mainstream movie audience will watch 2020's particular superhero lineup.

Outside the superhero genre, female-led action thrillers haven't been quite so lucky. Widows and Annihilation were widely lauded but struggled to gather audiences, with the latter deemed one of 2018's biggest box office bombs.

Elizabeth Banks argued that her decently received Charlie's Angels reboot flopped because successful female-led movies like Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, the latter of which surpassed $1 billion at the box office, are part of the "male genre." Those movies may follow female characters, but their connections to comic book juggernauts like the Justice League and The Avengers attract the full spectrum of movie audiences.

Basically, female-led superhero movies are looking good in 2020.


Brie Larson plays Captain Marvel.


Though Marvel hasn't exactly balanced its scales. Captain Marvel, co-directed by Marvel's first female director, Anna Boden, along with Ryan Fleck, was the only female superhero film in Phase Three of the MCU's scheduled programming. Black Widow will be the other non-ensemble female superhero movie in Phase Four.

If you factor in Disney Plus, however, the scales get a positive nudge. Three female-led superhero TV series are in the works: WandaVision, Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk. In Elizabeth Olsen's own words, WandaVision, starring Olsen as Scarlet Witch and Paul Bettany as Vision, promises to "get weird." Ms. Marvel will break ground with Kamala Khan, Marvel's first Muslim character to have her own comic book, and She-Hulk will revolve around Bruce Banner's superpowered cousin.

On top of that, you can probably add Hawkeye, the Disney Plus show set to follow Jeremy Renner's archer passing the mantle over to young archer Kate Bishop.

Sony pitches in on the female superhero movie front with two projects early in development. Silk, a character from the Spider-Man universe, is set to follow Cindy Moon, a Korean-American teenager who's already popped up in Spider-Man: Homecoming as one of Peter's classmates, played by Tiffany Espensen.

Joining her is Madame Web, to be penned by Morbius writers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, according to Collider. They'll tell the story of Cassandra Webb, an elderly blind woman who's strapped to a life-support system that looks like a web. Early speculation points to her mutant superpowers holding the key to Spider-Man's shared universe.


A look at Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in the prequel's first trailer.


Not everyone would be happy with all that. Avengers Endgame De-Feminized Edit AKA Anti-Cheese-Cut is, as you can probably guess, a fan-edited version of Avengers: Endgame that cleanly removes Captain Marvel, along with much of Black Panther's role and male characters hugging.

But for those who aren't sexist, racist or homophobic, the MCU may receive a welcome shakeup. Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, two of the original Avengers, are seemingly at the end of their roads. The billionaire hero who began Marvel's journey in 2008 sacrificed himself to snap Thanos into oblivion, and the very first Avenger traveled back in time to shack up with his love Peggy Carter. Will the movies bring in a new generation of Avengers, featuring Ms. Marvel, Kate Bishop and She-Hulk? Could Captain Marvel step up as a leader?

In the dust of Endgame comes a serendipitous moment for female superhero movies. Before Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, an untitled Spider-Man sequel and Thor: Love and Thunder, 2020 could be a formative time for the makeup of Marvel's greatest heroes.

In 2020, superhero movies may look and feel very different. Distinct from the superhero movies Martin Scorsese criticized for lacking "emotional danger," for lacking risk. This brave new world could become the norm and pave the way for others.

Or you can watch Sonic the Hedgehog. A movie about a blue hedgehog. How's that for diversity?

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