Journalism: Rise in female superheroes empowers women

Journalism: Rise in female superheroes empowers women

Originally posted for The Current on January 4, 2015 as part of my Feminista column. 

It’s official. I want to be Ming-Na Wen when I grow up. The 51-year-old actress has been in many films and television shows throughout her career, but it is her role as female heroes that has made her notable.

It began in 1998 when Wen first voiced the title character of “Mulan,” the young Chinese warrior who goes against tradition and joins the army dressed as a man.

Years later, as the cast of ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Wen returned as a new character for Disney as experienced field Agent Melinda May. Despite her age, Wen has shown the world how strong a woman can really be doing her own stunts, including a sequence that had Wen fighting herself in the recent episode “Face My Enemy.”

Wen stands in a long line of superheroines taking to screens in the 21st century. In Marvel’s cinematic universe, Wen is joined by fellow members Chloe Bennet, Elizabeth Henstridge and Adrianne Palicki who play Skye, Dr. Jemma Simmons and Agent Bobbi Morse respectively, some of the strongest characters in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

On the big screen, there’s also Scarlett Johansson’s character Natasha Romanoff, Black Widow, who has been a main figure in four of the “Avengers” franchise films. According to IMDB, Black Widow is rumored to have her own solo film along with the new “Captain Marvel” film which will also star a new heroine.

This trend is occurring in all corners of the entertainment industry. Even DC Comics has finally received the message that they are in need of a Wonder Woman film, which is now being planned for a 2017 release.

The movie will star actress Gal Gadot after the famed heroine’s appearance in “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

This will be the character’s first official return since the 1975 television series starring Lynda Carter and first appearance on the big screen. The films continue on with the “Lara Croft” series, Pixar’s “Brave,” Elizabeth Swann in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games”  and Tris in “Divergent” just to name a few. Even on TV with characters like Abby Mills on Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow” where Mills plays an equal part to her fellow witness of the apocalypse Ichabod Crane.

An increase of female heroes has become a demand. Marvel fans will even be treated to the mini-series “Agent Carter” in January, starring Hayley Atwell’s Agent Peggy Carter. The character first appeared as a love interest in “Captain America: The First Avenger” back in 2011, but demand from fans to learn more about the character’s backstory led to Atwell reprising her role four times before her show.

These fantastic women are inspiring a new breed of woman, one that will believe she can do anything just as well as the men.

In time, these heroines could possibly lead to young girls searching out heroines in real life such as Dr. Sylvia Earle who recently visited St. Petersburg. Earl is one of the world’s most renowned divers, explorers and marine biologists. Women are now seeing themselves as conduits for change in the world and, with hard work and a karate kick or two, they can also help save it.


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