Joss Whedon - aka the man who brought us such amazing feminist characters as Buffy Summers and Zoë Alleyne Washburne - is on a mission. And that mission, for those wondering, involves six-issue comic book series Twist, which plans to answer one very serious question.
The screenwriter, director, producer and comic book author is creating a six-issue comic book series called Twist, which seeks the answer to one very serious question:
“Why isn’t there a Victorian female Batman?”
It’s no secret that the world of comic books and mainstream superheroes is absolutely dominated by men. All of the recent big blockbusters – Avengers Assemble, The Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America and Thor to name but few – feature men as our heroes, with strange and unnatural powers.
There are women featured, but they usually fall into the role of ‘love interest’ - Gwen Stacey, Lois Lane and Vicki Vale, for starters –built into stories to aid the plot, keep it moving nicely along, and to give the caped dudes something worth fighting for.
Sure, things are looking up, with Scarlet Witch coming to Avengers: Age of Ultron. Sure, we’ve got the gutsy Gamora (played by Zoe Saldana) holding her own in Guardians of the Galaxy. And, sure, we’ve got Hope Van Dyne set to blaze a path in the upcoming Ant-Man. But there are plenty of amazing feminist women of comics out there and they deserve some serious recognition.
There are some brilliant female comic book characters and they deserve their own movies…as well as some more practical costumes.
Here are our top picks from the many worthy candidates out there…
Kathy, or Kat Kane, is one of the most critically acclaimed superheroes of all time (yes, that includes the male ones) and it’s not hard to see why. She was inspired to become Batwoman after fighting off a mugger and a brief encounter with Batman.
Kane is one of the few openly lesbian superheroes and isn’t prepared to compromise her sexuality at any cost. Throw in the fact that she patrols Gotham solo and has (in current incarnations) a costume that is both functional and practical, and you have a winner.
Meet Jennifer Walters, one of the most hard-working and highly intelligent lawyers of the Marvel Universe, providing excellent legal counsel to various superheroes on many occasions.
Underneath, Walters is She-Hulk and can punch you through a wall if you deserve it. Note that ‘if you deserve it’ because it’s very important: while Hulk loses all control of who he is when he transforms, She-Hulk retains her intelligence and emotional control. Making her infinitely better.
She-Hulk, we salute you.
3. Wonder Woman
Try telling Wonder Woman she’s not a feminist to her face. She’s the embodiment of female empowerment, having grown up on an island made up entirely of women. She was trained by women. Most of the people she cares about are women. Of course she wants women to be equal to men - in the early comic books, that’s her thing, damn it.
Adoring bystander: “You’ve shown us, princess, that clever women can conquer the strongest men!”
Wonder Woman: “And don’t you ever forget that, girls!”
We know she’ll be making an appearance in the upcoming Batman v Superman; here’s hoping she’s given a chance to shine like the star we know she is.
There’s a reason Halle Berry is campaigning for her own Storm movie - and no, it’s not because she needs the money. Orono Munroe’s mutant alter-ego is an absolute badass who started off in life as a thief in Cairo's back alleys, before going on to be worshiped as a rain goddess by an African tribe. Nowadays, she uses her powers to control the weather to help fight evil with her fellow X-Men (and women), and takes over as leader of the team when Cyclops disappears. And, when he returns, she’s very happy to reassert her authority in a very big way - go Storm!
5. Captain Marvel
Carol Danvers is Captain Marvel and she is, without a doubt, one of the most empowering female comic book characters out there. A former fighter pilot, cosmic hero and long-time Avenger, she’s a modern woman searching for self-liberation and her own sense of identity.
She’s also got superhuman strength, endurance, stamina, flight, physical durability, precognition, and a perfectly amalgamated human/Kree physiology that renders her resistant to most toxins and poisons. Throw in the fact that she's a talented pilot and espionage agent, and you have a true trailblazer for gender equality. She even has a practical costume.
No wonder Marvel have just announced that Carol's getting suited and booted for her very own movie, due out in 2018. We can't wait.
These five superheroes are just the tip of the iceberg; there are plenty of empowered female comic book characters out there - you just have to open your mind and go out looking for them.
Perhaps, in time, Hollywood producers will be able to commit to saying the F word out loud and give us a truly inspiring female superhero in a move all of her own.
Until then, we’ll just have to keep on reading the comics.
Words: Kayleigh Dray