Opinion | Sexuality

Whatever Happened to Wonder Woman?

Modern female superheroes barely stand for anything. It wasn’t always this way.
Whatever Happened to Wonder Woman?
Image: jamiesrabbits / Flickr

Wonder Woman will finally headline her own movie in 2017, the new Robin might be a girl, and Thor is now a woman in comic book canon. Is it the golden age for female superheroes?

Not exactly. I struggled to come up with those examples. The women who do appear in today's superhero movies as more than merely a romantic foil remain overtly sexualized in comparison to the male heroes, and the Wonder Woman movie — which has been attempted many times in the past — still hinges on the success of this year’s male-driven Batman vs. Superman.

Comics, particularly superhero comics, have long struggled to incorporate female superheroes in a way that doesn’t offend real women. Superheroes are the stuff of fantasy; male superheroes are aspirational to both their creators and readers, whereas female superheroes typically end up as eye candy—flat characters with inoffensive personalities. (In fairness, there are some standouts in the extended comic book universe ...

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