Wonder Women! the Untold Story of American Superheroines is a documentary that celebrates the legacy of female superheroines over the past century. Everyone from Lynda Carter to Kathleen Hanna to everyday fans are interviewed and included in this documentary. Watching this you'll learn a lot about not only the history and trajectory of female superhero characters, but also about the fans that have kept these characters alive. Did you know there is a Wonder Woman Day? It's true. This exists. Wonder Women! will teach you these kinds of things and more.
The film delves into the ways that the long lasting effects of Wonder Woman, debuting in in 1949, made an impact on our culture. For example, Lynda Carter who played Wonder Woman on TV in the 1970's says that executives told her the show would fail because a woman couldn't carry a show. Clearly, they were wrong. The show was a huge hit and shows like The Bionic Woman and Charlie's Angels soon followed. The long lasting effect of this one show paved the way for a surge of women in traditionally more male-hero-centric roles in films like Alien and The Terminator, and a new breed of female-centric TV shows like Xena and Buffy.
Kathleen Hanna made an interesting point, saying something to the effect of, there are really not enough empowering characters for women to choose from, so we just end up latching onto "whatever we can get," even if it's not as relatable as we'd like it to be. This idea of sparsity reinforces the concept I've talked about before about how important it is for women to support other women in the entertainment industry. The more women there are out there to say yes to other women's work, specifically work that tells the stories of other women, the more opportunities there will be for women to create more work that reflects a larger variety of stories about various types of women.
The narrative only graces on critiques, acknowledging that Wonder Woman, Charlie's Angels and the Bionic Woman are not only "feminism in a sexy package", but that they are also ultimately avenues which have created positive role models for young women, however imperfect they may be.
Every decade and every character is presented as a stepping stone towards achieving a more fulfilling and all-encompassing representation of women, and seems to radiate more celebration rather than critique. There is a sense of empowerment in watching the film.
Wonder Women! wraps up with a segment on high school aged girls who are interested in film, showing how the current generation is utilizing media to create their own symbols of female strength and power. The interviewee subjects all discuss their own real life heroines and then showcase their own work.
My favorite line is when one of the interview subjects says, "Strong women leave legacies. If she could do it, I could do it." That's pretty much how I feel about anything I pursue. If she can, I can.