Weekly Inspiration: The New Superhero - Female Role Models On The Rise

March 27, 2019

 

Now it has to be said, I'm not the greatest fan of superhero movies. I was never brought up with Marvel or DC comics, purely because my family couldn't afford them. Saying that, growing up, no one in my friends group ever had them either. I remember us all watching Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, all of those classic Japanese Anime shows, plus some of the old Batman, Spiderman, X-Men, She-Ra and He-Man episodes when they happened to be on. We never really looked at any of the characters being "Superhero's", it was more of just something to watch that was interesting. Although I did always slightly want to be Sailor Moon!

 

As time went on and my siblings and I got older, we did as a family introduce ourselves to some of the newer DC and Marvel movies. I remember my brother being particularly fond of Spiderman (2002) and The Hulk (2003), so obviously they were first on the list to watch. I recall liking the movies, thinking they were pretty epic at the time with all of the special effects but neither of them really spoke to me.

 

 

It wasn't until my Mum decided to buy a box set of the X-men Trilogy (2000), (2003), (2006), that I actually started to get more interested. I think maybe it was the fact there were a group of both male and female leads that attended a school for those with powers, no kid can deny that's awesome. For some reason I could never choose between Rogue and Storm but as there were female leads to fantasise about being, for the first time it completely changed my viewing experience.

 

So at the ripe age of 12, I officially saw my first movie "role model". Although thinking about how literal a kid can take a character, it's sometimes hard to understand why they aim superhero movies at children so much. I totally understand that it's a way to escape from real life and to potentially see aspects of ourselves within the characters which can teach us a number of things. However, when so many of these characters are violent, it's maybe not the best thing to promote to young children, but that's a whole other post.

 

 

That being said, why as a female should I have to miss out on having a female role model until I'm nearly a teenager, when my male counterparts are brought up with a range of male role models throughout their childhood? That doesn't exactly seem fair. Like I said these movies are a form of escapism from real life and if young girls haven't got females to reflect on, what do they have to help them through the struggles of growing up? I know many people would dispute me over this as it's not like women aren't represented in superhero movies, but it's always as the vulnerable woman who has to be saved by the main male character.

 

So this to a certain extent leaves girls with being that vulnerable woman who is always counting on a man to save them. Is this really what we should be teaching from a young age? I have to say, even Rogue takes on the vulnerable young woman many times in X-Men, before she really gets to grips with her powers. It's like she has been watching these movies all her life and until someone teaches her she can be strong, she continues needing to be saved.

 

 

The only other set of superhero movies I have actually watched and this is no lie, is the Batman Trilogy (2005), (2008), (2012). Although once again it is a leading male role, there is something that I completely fell in love with in Batman's story. I don't know whether it's due to watching the movies when I was older and more interested in film, but I could really look into the movie and the character with an analytical eye. How he built himself up with no actual "powers" other than skill and determination, made Batman a lot more relatable. We also saw the introduction of Cat Woman, who is an independent woman who can really look after herself which was inspiring. I do have to point out however, many other women in the movies are looked at more as objects.

 

By 2012 there still hadn't been a leading lady superhero movie and the industry didn't find it necessary until the release of Wonder Women in 2017. By this point, I had truly given up with the Superhero genre and I'm sure many other women my age had too. After being un-represented for so many years, subjected to the typical male lead saving the vulnerable female, it was quite easy to say goodbye to this genre. I admit it was great to finally see a female superhero at the forefront but it was just too late to get on board. However, clearly many people were so ready for Wonder Woman as it was the second highest grossing movie of 2017. It's so nice to see that things are truly changing in the industry, but I wish it had happened sooner.

 

 

With the amazing results of Wonder Woman, it has completely changed perspectives within film. Needless to say the #MeToo movement definitely shone some light onto how women are treated in the industry and how it's mainly male orientated. It actually seems as though this is being recognised and changes are being made. Marvel have truly moved into a momentous occasion with their latest movie Captain Marvel (2019), as it not only focuses on their second female lead superhero, but it is their first all female lead solo movie. Yes, you read that right, ALL FEMALE LEAD!

 

Honestly this could not have come soon enough, we are finally getting those female lead role models on screen but also behind the lens. This is truly an exciting time for the film industry and I can't wait to see how much the landscape of the industry will change in years to come. We are going down the right path to improve viewing experiences for generations of girls in years to come and also for women wanting to work in film.

 

 

If you haven't guessed I will definitely be going to see Captain Marvel and I think you should too! It was released a few weeks ago across the UK, so you can find it in a local cinema near you! You never know, if you fell out of love with the Superhero genre like I did, this may just twist your arm. Fingers crossed!

 

 

 

 

 

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Weekly Inspiration: Emilia Clarke

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