For younger filmgoers, it may seem as if our current proliferation of superhero movies began with 2008's Iron Man, as it was that film that began cultivating the ensemble that will soon converge in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War (a.k.a. The Hunt For Thanos’ Lil’ Helmet). But there was a long lineage of super-powered franchises, from Christopher Reeves’ Superman flicks to the Tim Burton-cum-Joel Schumacher Batman series to unfortunate one-offs like Shaquille O’Neill’s Steel or that 1990 Captain America movie starring J.D. Salinger’s son.
Last week, when Michelle Obama celebrated the success of Marvel’s Black Panther—a movie primarily written, directed, and performed by black artists—while also pointing out how “young people will finally see superheroes that look like them on the big screen.”
That’s when Federalist writer DC McAllister, one of many right-wingers who seem curiously bothered by the success of Black Panther, took it upon herself to ask why this type of response wasn’t also afforded to 2004's Catwoman, a movie notable not for its quality so much as that it’s still the only Marvel or DC live-action movie built around a woman of color. Good question, DC! It didn’t take long for a suitable response to surface.
Even star Halle Berry hates it. After winning Worst Actress at that year’s Razzies, she accepted the award in person, thanking Warner Bros. for “putting me in a piece of shit, godawful movie.” She also thanks “the writers, all of 20 of them, for thinking this was a good idea. It wasn’t, but thank you.”
One of those writers, John Rogers (who clarifies it was actually between six and 12 writers), also popped in to say that McAllister’s warped take is a “bad” one. “As one of the credited writers of CATWOMAN, I believe I have the authority to say: because it was a shit movie dumped by the studio at the end of a style cycle, and had zero cultural relevance either in front of or behind the camera.”
Sure, it was a big deal to see a woman of color take on the role, especially back in 2004. But the final product speaks more than casting. And Black Panther resonates not just because of the opportunities afforded to its primarily black cast, but because of the talent pervading every corner of its production, as well as the high profile the film’s been given as a crown jewel in one of the world’s preeminent pop-culture franchises.
It’s also, you know, just really good. That’s kind of important.