Programmers revive the female superpower


Disney Plus will launch the Marvel original series on June 8 Ms. Marvel, the latest in a series of female-led superhero series that have helped fuel the popular genre.

Of Wanda Visionanother Marvel Studios-produced series on Disney Plus, at The CW’s star girl and new shows such as animation Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil’s Dinosaur, networks and streaming services bring supercharged versions of girl power to the screen while hosting various female heroines looking to save the day in front of a large demo of viewers.

“While female superheroes aren’t new to pop culture, audiences today want to see more culturally complex and nuanced portrayals,” said Sarah Unger, co-founder of the consulting firm Cultique media and former Viacom marketing manager.

Female superheroes have been making their way onto television screens for decades. In the 1970s, shows like wonder woman, The bionic woman and The Secrets of Isis featured strong, attractive, and charismatic women who saved humanity from their evil counterparts.

“When we go back in the history of television to superheroines like Batgirl in the 1960s Batman series or wonder woman in the 1970s, what attracted the public was the sexy side of the women who saved the day,” said Marc Berman, television industry analyst.

Unger added, “Female superheroes of past eras were often filtered through the lens of male expectations and expression, often being overly gendered or portrayed primarily as love interests.”

Additionally, animated series such as Cartoon Network’s DC super hero girls sought to reach a younger audience, while cinema films such as Black Widow and Captain Marvel drew huge box office numbers.

More recently, TV shows like Netflix’s Jessica Jones and the CWs super girl and batman sought to present more three-dimensional and diverse characters who have flaws but still kick in when the time comes. Shows like Jessica Joneswhich follows the complicated life of an ex-superhero turned private investigator, owes some of its success and acceptance to the general theme of comedy and girl-on-girl dramas launched primarily on streaming services in the late 1990s. and the early 2000s, Unger said. .

Heroines: The Next Generation

“As premium content has showcased female-led storytelling models over the past decade, these models serve as a precedent for content creators to interpret through the lens of superheroes,” Unger said. “The success of shows centered around the ‘messy woman’ archetype, as seen in examples like Flea bag, Rail accident and vast cityhas offered permission for content such as Jessica Jones featuring complicated female superheroes to create.

Wanda Vision, a Disney Plus original series that debuted last year, opened the floodgates for female superheroes and proved that a female lead could both grab public attention and be accepted into the mainstream. universe of superheroes. The series, based on the Wanda Maximoff character played by Elizabeth Olsen who appears in numerous Marvel Cinematic Universe films, was the first Marvel-themed series to debut on the streaming service.

The series was a big hit for Disney Plus, winning three 2021 Emmy Awards and earning 23 Emmy nominations. The Wanda Vision the storyline and lead character also played a major role in the success of the latest Marvel-themed theatrical release, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnesswhich drew nearly $200 million in box office receipts when it first released on Mother’s Day weekend (May 6-8).

DC's Stargirl on The CW

Brec Bassinger stars in The CW’s DC series Daughter of the Stars. (Image credit: Eliza Morse/The CW)

Other shows – like The CW Noemiecreated by Ava DuVernay and about a superhero-obsessed African American teenage girl who discovers she has her own superpowers, or those from Disney Plus Ms. Marvelabout a Pakistani-American high school girl who must come to terms with her newly discovered powers – features unique and diverse main characters that until now have been rare for the genre.

“Particularly now in the times we live in, the appeal of diverse female superheroes, whether straight or gay, black or white, is all the rage and appeals, in particular, to younger audiences,” Berman said.

The increased diversity among the main heroines allowed writers to be creative in their portrayals rather than sticking to a cookie-cutter ideal of how these characters should act and feel, Unger noted.

“When it comes to female superheroes, the more varied the content ecosystem in representations of women, the less pressure there is for each individual representation to have an outsized role in gender representation, leading to a greater creative freedom for creators and talents,” she says.

DuVernay, speaking at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour in January, said the ability to tell a more nuanced story about a young black female character with superpowers was key for her in development. Noemie. The CW recently said the series won’t be renewed for a second season because the network has been quicker to cancel shows pending a potential sale.

“To me, superhero stuff is icing on the cake, knowing that the best superhero journeys are human stories,” she said. “Comics are truly personal human stories about the journeys we all take, written with issues of heroism and magic.”

More top female superheroes will hit screens later this year. Disney Plus will debut this summer She-Hulk: Lawyer, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name and starring Tatiana Maslany. Disney Channel will also give voice to Marvel comic book heroine Lunella Lafayette in the animated series Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil’s Dinosaur.

This series, which will also launch this summer, centers on a brilliant 13-year-old prodigy and her 10-ton T-Rex, Devil Dinosaur, who work together to protect New York City.

More soon

moon girl Executive producer and Emmy-winning actress Laurence Fishburne said the story of a young, intelligent, African-American girl as a superhero provides an important portrayal of the character that hasn’t been seen on television. He added that the production team is made up of more than 50% women, which provides a unique voice and perspective to the project.

“We’ve never seen heroes like Lunella Lafayette before, and I think it’s about time we did,” Fishburne told TCA. “It’s perfect for our times and for what’s going on right now.”

As networks and streaming services continue to roll out superhero-themed series, Berman warns that the genre in general could eventually hit a ceiling in terms of appeal. Indeed, The CW canceled last month batman after three seasons and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow after seven campaigns. In 2021, the network ended super girl after six seasons.

“Of course, the genre attracts young audiences and resonates on social networks, but how much share can the market still absorb?” Berman asked.

At the premiere of The CW last month, Chairman and CEO Mark Pedowitz gave the genre a vote of confidence. “We’re still very active in the superhero business,” he told advertisers.

Continuing diversification of characters and storylines could help distributors keep audiences engaged and tuned in, Unger added.

“As the superhero genre becomes increasingly saturated with pressure to attract huge box office and viewership numbers in a competitive content landscape, studios recognize that the genre must innovate to keep a broad audience engaged – across genders and generations,” she said. ▪️


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