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Wonder Woman at 75: The Face of Gender Equality

Throughout the years, there has been a number of discussions highlighting the idea that female characters are being under-presented in the comic industry. However, a lot has changed within our current society, we have a female prime-minister, a possible female president and females are getting more recognition in a number of sports such as football, rugby and the WWE. This power surge is also co-existing in the entertainment world. Though men continue to outrank women on studio-lots and are much more frequently employed on high-profile films, we are seeing more and more female characters obtaining solo-roles, Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman being a prime example.

Celebrating Wonder Woman’s 75th birthday, the character first hit the comic book scene at the start of World War II, a time where the norm mandated that a woman’s place was in a home, instead of inspiring, leading and generally being strong role models. Wonder Woman’s re-emergence has come at a focal juncture, as the film business is consumed by a generic overview in regards to the lack of opportunities in front of and behind the camera.  However, as times change, so does the sense of realism in female representation.

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Actresses such as Patricia Arquette, Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Lawrence have been advocating to get paid the same rates as their male co-stars and there has also been an urge for studios to hire more female directors. The female-led Wonder Woman directed by Patty Jenkins will likely be seen as a catalyst for female only productions in Hollywood. In 1943, The American Scholar issue, William Moulton Martsons brings up an envisage idea ‘Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good as women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strengths of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman” This is why Wonder Woman has become so important for females in our society. She injected a radical edge in the comic-book medium and most recently became the saviour of both Superman and Batman in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.

This leads onto the fact that Wonder Woman is not one to be rescued by a guy; she’s a woman always in control of any situation. Her image may have appealed to boys’ prurient instincts, but her attitude towards gender equality help politicize a generation of future feminist leaders like Gloria Steinem. It’s not just Wonder Woman though, female characters are becoming ever more popular in today’s comics, games, movies and politics. This is because we are having an increase of female influence; more than ever women are becoming comic book artist’s, directors, politicians and most of them have adapted and flocked to the independent industry, which has resulted in a feminization within our society.

Unlike most of the superheroes we know, whose vigilantism is rooted to saving the girl or saving the city, Wonder Woman instead, inspires to be a polemical figure towards her peers. Marston told his editor that the comic was intended to trumpet “a great movement under way — the growth in the power of women.” It helps that Marston is seen as a radical; he believed women to be equal of men, was inspired by the suffrage movement, and was sympathetic to gay rights. With his view on the world gives reason why Wonder Woman is such an iconoclastic individual. The character has become an important symbol for female empowerment. It’s become a legacy that DC comics, the character’s rights holder, wants to honour this prestigious image as she prepares to introduce herself in a series of cinematic adventures and a number of viewers/fans who have seen the Warrior Princess on the big screen have already given a significant number of positives remarks.

However, Wonder Woman faces a steeper test than being a flashpoint in the culture wars, as a member of the Justice League, she has a pivotal role to play within the DC cinematic universe. This is where a matter of concern surfaces, with the new DC universe unfolding in a dark, grotesque and disturbing world, one which Batman is an aging alcoholic and Superman is seen as a troubled figure- feared by the public whom think his godlike abilities make him a threat. With all of this happening, is there any room for a happy warrior like Wonder Woman?

This is a questions that summarises this article, she may be a happy character in environments not as dark as her other compatriots, yet why can’t she be in dark environments? She is a character who has the alluring demeanour that can tackle any situation in any setting giving hope for the women in the world we live in today.

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