Just this week, I stumbled across a TV rerun of the original “Wonder Woman” — demure professional by day, corset-clad savior of the universe between work assignments. Not long before that, I caught up with a “Big Bang Theory” episode in which the female cast members first experience the joys of comic books and superheroes, previously the domain of the men in their lives.
And now it looks like the entertainment world has discovered that young girls and superheroes — especially female superheroes — are the newest super force.
This fall marks the TV debut of “Supergirl,” based on the DC Comics costumed superhero who is the biological cousin to Superman and one of the last surviving Kryptonians. The character is taken in by an Earth family as a teen after being sent away from Krypton. A disaster encountered as a young woman motivates her to embrace her powers after previously hiding them, and set off on her journey of heroism.
Also with a fall launch in mind, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Mattel have partnered to introduce DC Super Hero Girls, the first teen versions of DC Comics’ most famous female icons such as Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl and more. Targeted to girls 6-12, DC Super Hero Girls will play out across multiple entertainment content platforms and product categories.
Much of this focus is in response to the demands of a growing female audience — 47% of comic book fans are women, according to Comics Beat.
Clearly, there is a new trend, and the thinking behind it is two-fold:
First, that these female costumed characters who can hold their own with the best of their male counterparts will serve as strong and relatable role models for young girls, creating confidence in their ability to accomplish anything they choose — just like a superhero.
And second, that expanding the universe of superheroes to appeal to girls as well as boys can just about double the market for these characters.
Focusing on empowering girls, whether through introducing them to superhero playthings, exposing them to STEM, or otherwise motivating them to succeed, is not just good for society, but potentially great for the bottom line. There has been much controversy over time about the “correct” way to inspire girls to success. Are pink building blocks a great idea or sexist? Are toys that use “girly” themes to teach math or science encouraging or evil? Do superheroes need to be female to make a difference? Perhaps it all depends on the girl, and the parent who is shopping for her.
In any case, if you’re a company contemplating following the female superhero flight pattern, now’s the time to start. But if you can’t get to it this year, don’t worry. There will be a new “Wonder Woman” movie in 2017, the first superhero movie out of almost 50, by the way, to be directed by a woman. We — and our daughters — will be ready.