How the launch of DC Super Hero Girls taps into the need for flawed heroines

Mattel and Warner Bros/DC's creation of the 'DC Super Hero Girls' is an inspiring way to market to girls, says Caireen Wackett, MD, Portas.

A new Super Hero universe. Designed just for girls. Hurrah.

Nah! Not when that universe means a kind of last-gasp move away from everything pink and pastel to the creation of a world where every girl is a symbol of raging feminism, dressed in silly tights, endowed with super-strength, super-vision, super-bodies posing as a swashbuckling hero.

My despair is with the way the female superheroes today are 'allowed' to be strong

Warner Bros/DC recently announced a partnership with Mattel to create books, online videos and action figures aimed at 6-12 year olds "to launch DC Super Hero Girls, an exciting new universe of Super Heroic storytelling that helps build character and confidence, and empowers girls to discover their true potential".

The characters will include teen versions of Supergirl, Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Bumble Bee and Poison Ivy.

Finally. Female characters that are no longer mere side-kicks but superheroes in their own right and who can give girls the chance to realise their dreams of being superheroes rather than being rescued by them.

Super women

As a mum to an 18-month old boy I was initially delighted that he could grow up not only wanting to become Peter Parker but also aspiring to have Jonni Thunder’s powers (remember the private detective from the 80s, always dapper in a white suit, who with her little gold statue could turn into a human thunderbolt?)

My despair is with the way the female superheroes today are 'allowed' to be strong.

From the return of the Power Puff girls on TV to a She-Thor guarding the kingdom of Asgard to Marvel Comics' A Force, which brings together all of Marvel female super heroes - it is always the Amazonian ladies with flowing capes and tiny Cinderella-like waists sanctioned to save the world.

I could go on. Wonder Woman, the bow-and-arrow carrying Katniss in Hunger Games, The Bride in Kill Bill, all these girls have had to kick arse to prove strength and fortitude.

Why can’t a superhero get to punch someone and then go have a little cry in her very pink bedroom

Even the recent Mad Men episode where Peggy Olsen in dark shades with a cigarette dangling from her lips struts down McCann Erickson hallway - celebrated on social media as a badass b**** moment - was no different.

Male fantasies

For women to be seen strong characters, we either have to act like men or play out the fantasies of men

Why can’t a dorky woman be a superhero and still be a bit of a nerd like Spiderman; or why can’t a superhero get to punch someone and then go have a little cry in her very pink bedroom; or sometimes be vain and neurotic; or even admit that she gets a kick out of fighting; or a brave but manipulative hero who explores her responsibility when it comes to the super villains she has fought and possibly even inspired? Even the new IPA President, Tom Knox with his ‘force for good’ agenda will approve, I think.

Complex female superheroes will fight unimaginable perils but without the need of the fluorescent tights, the flowing locks or luscious lips.

I would quite like my little boy to grow up in a world where superheroes are just that. Superheroes. Not overtly male or female. DangerMouse, anyone?


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