Meet the supergirlfriends of summer

They say behind every great man is a great woman. While we AfterEllen.commers might take issue with that first gender, the saying definitely holds true in the to big-budget superhero movies coming soon to a theater near you. In fact, USA Today recently interviewed the trio of Gwyneth Paltrow, Liv Tyler and Maggie Gyllenhaal, or — as I like to call them — the supergirlfriends of summer.

All three actors are more known for their dramatic or independent film work, and all three are now stepping into mainstream comic book movie heroine roles. They’re the superheroes’ girlfriends/potential love interests: Gwyneth as Pepper Potts in Iron Man, Liv as Betty Ross in The Incredible Hulk, and Maggie as Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight.


Now, I could go on and on about how nice it would be if they were the superheroes themselves instead of just the girlfriends. But, as the actors will attest, at least these ladies aren’t the placid girlfriends of yore. As Liv said:

In all these films, our characters have real jobs and really fall in love and have real dilemmas. When you look at the history of the comic books, the women also have changed.

But while the women have changed, the film sets have not. The trio said they were surrounded my men throughout their shoots. As Gwyneth said:

Mine was definitely a testosterone-fest. I was the only girl for miles, except for the women working in the wardrobe, hair and makeup departments. I would have time off when the guys would go blow things up in the desert, and every time I went back to work, they were happy to have a girl there. They had kind of forgotten that there were women in the world.

Superhero movie as microcosm for the society at large? Who’d have guessed it. All three women said ultimately it was their films’ scripts that got them to agree to be superhero squeezes. Though Gwyneth, again, admitted that it wasn’t all Shakespeare.

Although there were lines that were a little bit like (screams dramatically), "No, no, press the button! Press the button!!!" Sometimes I’d go, "This line belongs in the book called What You Cannot Say in a Movie." But I suppose if you’re going to blow somebody up, there’s a limited number of responses you can have for that.

You mean this button, Gwyn?

The ladies also discussed what superpowers they’d like to have (breathing underwater for Liv and flying for Maggie and Gwyn, though the latter confessed to possibly wanting invisibility and/or X-ray vision for naughtier reasons.) They also discussed what superhero each should be. That discussion needs to be read in full to be truly appreciated.

Maggie (to Liv): You’d be good as Wonder Woman.
Liv: No, you look more like her, especially in the face. Maybe we should both be her for Halloween this year and wear matching outfits. I’ve always really liked Catwoman for some reason: Eartha Kitt and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Gwyneth: Yeah, Michelle Pfeiffer was great.
Liv: If there was ever a fantasy I had, I related to the nerdy person she was at home — that was so me. And then there was this other part of her personality where she showed her sexuality and power. Soooo sexy. That scene where she licks her paw: Ohhhh!

Three straight, married women swooning over Michelle Pfeiffer in skin-tight leather? I approve.

So, does this summer’s trend of putting established dramatic actors in these roles make you more or less likely to see these films? And do you think it’s a wise choice for these women to pick these movies as their foray into more mainstream fare? Finally, if it works out, should the saying be changed to behind every great superhero is a great supergirlfriend?