Women in the superhero world

Morgan Sheehy, managing editor

The universe of superheroes, whether it be DC or Marvel, is one of the biggest fandoms in the world. It’s a powerful universe, and even if you are not dedicated to the comics, movies, and characters, almost everyone can name their favorite superhero. However, more often than not, the world of superheroes tends to connect more with the male audience. As a majority of the comics and movies are centered around an archetypal white male, young boys can connect with the likes of Captain America and Iron Man, while, on the other hand, young girls and women have a harder time picturing themselves as the hero.

For years, female superheroes were viewed as a risky bet. The notion was that a majority of the superhero-movie audience are males who would not be interested in watching a woman save the world. In 2014, leaked emails from Sony revealed Marvel’s executive calling female superhero movies “a disaster.”

“It took forever for someone to do an empowering female hero right. DC tried with Catwoman and Elektra, but they both definitely missed the mark,” senior Anna Rumley said. It was not until movies like “The Hunger Games” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” two movies with powerful female leads that appealed to both the male and female audience, that the possibility for a female superhero movie was back on the table.

With the debut of DC’s “Wonder Woman” in 2017, the debate of whether or not a female superhero on the screen would be successful was put to rest. “Wonder Woman” set many box office records and became the trailblazer the female superhero world needed, “Gal Gadot absolutely killed that role. I loved that she was a distinctly feminine hero who was just so inspiring and not frightening at all. She wasn’t too sexy or too boyish, but a hero that I could really see myself as,” Rumley said.

It was not until this year that Marvel released their first female superhero to get a solo film: “Captain Marvel.” Her epic introduction is set in the early 1990s, outlining her super origin story. Carol Danvers is a US Air Force Academy graduate and fighter pilot with alien powers. She can fly through space, shoot lasers from her hands, and pack a wicked punch. “She has to be, without any doubt, the most powerful hero ever in the Marvel Cinematic Universe,” senior Kathleen Scoggin said.

Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman may both be female superheroes, but they could not be more different, “Wonder Woman is cool, but Captain Marvel is just on a whole new level,” Scoggin said. “For as long as I can remember strong female leads have always had this common makeup of being strong on the surface but vulnerable underneath or intimidating but in a sexy way. Captain Marvel isn’t any of those things, she breaks the typical rules.” Her costume is more practical and masculine than the typical “tight leather and short skirt,” inspired by her military past.

Carol Danvers is a realistic role model for young girls and women, not a perfect hero without flaws. Her strained relationship with her father, a man who believed educating women was worthless and a waste of money, led her to join the Air Force and drove her desire to prove herself to be smarter and stronger  boys. She has a complexity to her that a hero has never been seen before. “She is so self-driven and motivated. Carol Danvers has an origin story and give-no-craps personality that makes her relatable in my opinion. She does what she wants, doesn’t deal with people’s BS, and her movie doesn’t revolve around some dumb love story. She doesn’t have to rely on anyone else,” Rumley said.

Putting empowering female superheroes on the big screen inspires girls and helps them relate to and envision themselves as the hero. It’s time for young girls to realize that they can truly do anything with hard work, perseverance, and staying true. “Female superheroes have great power, and that power is the potential to shape how every little girl or even grown woman view themselves. We can be strong and powerful. We can save the day,” Scoggin said.