By Allison Eckel
I saw a great photo on Twitter last week of a group of fans at the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) in fantastic hero costumes. The group included Thor, Captain Marvel, and Iron Man; and they were all girls. Not in a jokey, drag queen way. But in a fantastic display of girl power uber-craftiness, this group of fangirls transformed Marvel’s most indelible heroes into Wonder Woman-worthy heroines.
In the DC Universe, girls can find many strong role models, most of whom lead their own books. Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Batwoman, and even Catwoman are no-nonsense, strong-minded, self-confident women who are regularly kicking butt and saving the world; and selling books by the boatloads to male and female readers. That is fantastic.
Guys are not the only ones who love role models who are strong protectors of the innocent and are steadfast in their commitment to the Good Fight. I was in kindergarten when I watched Linda Carter wear Wonder Woman’s star spangled bathing suit while kicking Nazi ass and carrying an injured Steve Trevor to safety. I was instantly finished with Disney Princesses; Princess Diana rescues herself while deflecting bullets! Plus, her symbol looks really great on a t-shirt.
So, Marvel: What have you got?
I asked at my Local Comic Shop (All Things Fun, which also publishes this blog) for examples of female-led Marvel comics titles. We couldn’t find any. She-Hulk and Elektra both had their own titles, but not since about 2009.
The Marvel Universe does have strong female characters. But since they are hidden in the pages of large team books like Avengers and X-Men, they are not approachable to outsiders. And they are not immediately inspiring to little girls. Invisible Woman from the Fantastic Four may be a contender – purveyors of super-cute apparel Tokidoki have put her on a fun, pink t-shirt (available at All Things Fun, natch). A few X-Men have potential. Storm, as a weather witch, commands great forces. Rogue and Kitty Pride are younger and may be more relatable to little girls. But they require too much explanation to be embraced immediately by girls hungry for strong female heroes.
Marvel recently announced an overhaul of its Captain Marvel character, as Glenn wrote previously. New series writer Kelly Sue DeConnick is quoted in an interview on Marvels’ news site. She explained that Carol Danvers will “have to figure out how … to marry the responsibility of [the Captain Marvel] legacy with the sheer joy being nearly invulnerable.” Based on her interview, I would hazard to say that Captain Marvel could be a first for Marvel: A successful, solo-female hero book. Except…
The character’s name has a long history of association with males, and with DC Comics (see Glenn's post for deatils). Plus, the character’s new costume is highly derivative of Supergirl (they even share a last name). In fact, the look is almost the same as Kara’s in 1998’s Elseworld’s Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl.
So, Marvel is on the right track to branding a powerful female hero, but so far, they are cobbling her together from what looks like left-over pieces the other kids left behind. Not exactly my idea of a great effort.
For now, I will continue my daughter’s indoctrination to the girl power available from DC Comics. Luckily, Old Navy has been selling Wonder Woman t-shirts for a while now, so I have been able to keep my daughter well-outfitted in Girl Power apparel. I will also learn from those awesome cosplayers at C2E2 and teach my daughter that when you can’t find that great female role model, you make her yourself.