‘Wonder Women!’ puts superheroines in the spotlight
February 24th, 2012
11:55 AM ET

‘Wonder Women!’ puts superheroines in the spotlight

Editor's note: Erika D. Peterman is a Florida-based writer and editor, and the co-creator of the comics blog Girls-Gone-Geek.com.

Two weeks ago, Wonder Woman herself asked her Twitter followers to support a documentary that examines the evolution and history of female heroes in comic books, television and film.

The Tweet came from actress Lynda Carter, who is one of several artists, writers and activists featured in the buzzworthy film “Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines.” Her powers of persuasion must have helped. Thanks to two highly successful Kickstarter fundraising campaigns (Kickstarter was instrumental in another female-focused comic book, "Womanthology," which earned a record-breaking $109,000 from their campaign) the filmmakers were able to get "Wonder Women!" polished and ready for its 2012 SXSW Film Festival next month.

“Thank you, Lynda Carter!” said director Kristy Guevara-Flanagan. “We have been floored by the support, and as we are cranking away into the wee hours, it really cheers us on to know that our story is important, that people really are hungry for stories about strong women, and to know that there will be an incredible audience for us when the film launches.”

There’s no shortage of commentary about men in capes or action heroes, but their female counterparts are another story. In a revealing person-on-the-street clip in the documentary, people of both sexes rattle off the names of comic book characters, and not a single female comes up. Not even Wonder Woman.

Guevara-Flanagan talked to Geek Out! about the documentary and why society still struggles with superheroines.

Geek Out: What inspired the film?

Guevara-Flanagan: We have been working on the film for over three years. I remember a few years ago reading an article about Gail Simone, who was writing the “Wonder Woman” comic at the time. I was surprised to discover that she was really the first woman to ever actually pen the super-lady. That really made me think about all the other Wonder Woman-like characters out there. Who created them? Why? And why were there so few of them that seemed really empowering?

Geek Out: What do you think accounts for the lack of acknowledgment of female superheroes in popular culture, and how do their stories mirror the lives of real women at various points in history?

Guevara-Flanagan: I think we as a culture still have a hard time with the powerful female figure. Look at how we cover and report on our female political leaders. Much is made of the way they look, how they dress, their hair and makeup. I think strong women are continually brought down in this way, by focusing on their physicality instead of their real merits.

Female superheroes are treated the same way. They can’t be too butch or they won’t be love interests for the majority of the male readership and hence, too threatening. We like these women to kick ass, but we also seem to need them to be potential romantic figures. And so, they need to dress and look a certain way.

Of course, when the superwomen first emerged in the ‘50s and ‘60s, they were married to other supermen or were related to them. They didn’t even get to exist in their own right. With the women’s movement and other societal gains that came about in the ‘70s, they were finally able to be characters that weren’t birthed from Adam’s rib, so to speak. Today we have some female superheroes, but there still are not a ton. They are sexually liberated but they also tend to be incredibly sexualized in the way they are drawn and how they pose.

Geek Out: What makes Wonder Woman the ideal symbol of the film?

Guevara-Flanagan: When I began, I had no idea of Wonder Woman’s early origins or even that she had been around for as long as she had. She was fairly inspired and inspirational in the beginning and that made sense, since American women themselves were, for the first time, asked to work outside of the home and join the war effort (during World War II). As the women’s movement gained traction again in the ‘70s, she became a symbol of female empowerment, both because of the TV show’s success and because the women of Ms. Magazine heralded her as an icon.

Today, she is mostly that same symbol of strength for women. Many don’t know her real story or mythology, and younger audiences don’t even remember the TV show. It would be nice to see her story come back in a major way, and the fact that there is yet to be a Wonder Woman feature film is crazy to me.

Geek Out: After SXSW, what are your plans for the film?

Guevara-Flanagan: We hope to play at festivals all over the globe and to secure a broadcast deal so we can screen on TV. From there we would really like to do some community outreach: screenings at schools and colleges, panels at conferences about comic arts and women in the arts, and to develop some educational, interactive component online where teachers, parents, young and old can find out more information about the forgotten real and fictional female heroes out there.

The "Wonder Women!" Kickstarter campaign continues through March 3.

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Filed under: Comic Longbox • Fandom • Squee!
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. michaelhoopson

    hello there paul sorry iv took so long i think this is there web address
    and some info ,ring them for advice ,tell them hoopsey give you there number

    June 24, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  2. Ronik

    Я из Эстонии, очень понравилось пару фраз из поста блога моего начальника:Please do something to stop the evil devil Russia. This cunotry, power in this cunotry has done most bad in the whole world all through the history. Most bad to their own people, most to the other nations. Why nobody stops Russia!И это слова взрослого человека, наглядный пример что твориться в головах промыленных местными и зарубежными медиа источниками.

    April 14, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  3. David Katz

    Female heroines have come a long way since Wonderwoman...ditto for the prominence of female leads in film & tv...no?

    February 27, 2012 at 12:00 am |
  4. Social Issues of women

    Women web- an online magazine, covering every segment of womens everyday life. Whether you are wondering to know about social issues, workplace issues, health issues or any relationship advice you can get them all at one place. So, whether you are working right now, on a break, looking to re-enter the workplace, a happy homemaker or going to start your first job, we hope you’ll find something here to interest you.

    February 25, 2012 at 3:07 am |
  5. Relictus

    Wonder woman – the boots of a dominatrix, a magical lasso to tie you up that makes men tell the truth (oh yes!) ... and she's a Princess. Plus, she does a little dance and half her clothes blow off (70's Wonder Woman). She can block bullets with her magic bracelets – bracelets that are golden cuffs. Plus, she is literally dressed in the flag.

    February 25, 2012 at 2:18 am |
    • Rawn

      Check out this wonderwoman Love song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saHCiJt2_AU

      February 25, 2012 at 3:09 am |
  6. Homer Simpson

    Give me WonderWoman, and that golden lariat. She can tie me up anytime!

    February 24, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  7. Damien Tobin

    And then Simone's run turned out to be so bad that DC deleted the last 20+ years of the character's history and started from scratch. And she followed it up by giving her seal of approval to getting rid of Oracle, one of the best and most unique characters in comics, and quite possibly the only hero in comics to really just be a normal human overcoming a handicap, with no superpowers or anything to help.

    February 24, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • M

      Get over it. Seriously.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:48 am |
  8. Reed Thisnow

    In the '70s men were blasted by most women for forcing Wonderwoman, Catwoman and other tightly clad females down the public's throat. Same with various names for breasts which are now on plastered on Susan Koman bumper stickers, shirts, etc. Glad to see women are becoming enlightened.

    February 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  9. Jeff

    Bring back the 1970's Wonder Woman show...

    February 24, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • M

      Terrible show. Watch Buffy.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:47 am |
  10. Chris

    How wonder-fully ironic that this year's theme at the 4-day 4,500 attendee Minneapolis Sci-Fi/Fantasy CONvergence con is Wonder Women in media! They definitely get this film on the 24 hour Cinema Rex film schedule. (http://www.convergence-con.org)

    February 24, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  11. mike

    what about marvel girl/phoenix of the xmen she jsut rocks even as dark phonenix

    February 24, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Sophia

      Maybe, but why spend money on a book?The only thing that will give you abs is keeping your body fat tapcenrege (BFP) below 11%. You can do a thousand crunches a day, but if you've got a BFP of 15% you'll have laundry on that washboard. The actual tapcenrege differs for each person (we all store fat differently).Do about half an hour of cardio every day, and a few anaerobic lifts to increase overall calorie expenditure.

      April 8, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  12. Wastrel

    Hmm. What can you say. It's good to see that some people can still read (or do they learn about comics from Twitter, I guess we'll never know), and that they are catching up with things they should know by cultural osmosis. The insistent preoccupation with twitter, kickstarter and films leads me to believe that maybe they really don't read after all, though.

    February 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  13. devon

    LOVE.LOVE.LOVE.WonderWoman!! and have since the 2nd grade (Im 35)

    February 24, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  14. anxietyjunkie

    I think I saw this partially finished at Geek Girl Con, and if it's the same doc then I really enjoyed it.

    February 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Teri

      Edwards on Nobody knows anything.Luna Park on Edgar Allan Poe's Literary Journal.GamingAngels on The Female Body in Geek Culture.Chris Wade on Once Upon a Time and Grimm: How Similar Are They to Fables? [via Paul Di Filippo]CBS

      April 8, 2012 at 2:50 pm |