With the announcement of Brie Larson officially joining the Marvel Universe as Captain Marvel, female comic book fans are jumping for joy. Girls have been waiting for a long time for representation in comics and film. It is our time.
There are finally female heroes with Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Widow from the Avengers, Peggy Carter from Captain America (yes, Peggy is a hero!), and Negasonic Teenage Warhead from Deadpool. Even by some miracle, we are getting stand alone movies for our female heroes; Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and even a Harley/Birds of Prey movie.
By releasing these movies are telling little girls out there, that it is okay to like comic books and “boy” things.
From the early 1940s to the 1950s, the majority of readers were girls. One of the first comics aimed towards this audience was Archie comics. The earliest comic characters were female costumed crimefighters. There was Miss Furry by a female cartoonist Tarpe Mills, the Invisible Scarlet O’Neil by Russell Stamm and even the jungle queen Sheena, who used her sex appeal to launch her series.
Trina Robbins, a female cartoonist, wrote in The Great Women Superheroes:
[M]ost of [Fiction House’s] pulp-style action stories either starred or featured strong, beautiful, competent heroines. They were war nurses, aviatrixes, girl detectives, counterspies, and animal skin-clad jungle queens, and they were in command. Guns blazing, daggers unsheathed, sword in hand, they leaped across the pages, ready to take on any villain. And they did not need rescuing.
During this era of comics also held the birth of the most badass female super hero, Wonder Woman. Even though there were amazing female heroes and female cartoonists, the next era of comics changed it.
The Comic Code was created and implemented, which was a way for comics to self-regulate. DC Comics created its own in-house Editorial Policy Code when it comes to women. “The inclusion of females in stories is specifically discouraged. Women, when used in plot structure, should be secondary in importance, and should be drawn realistically, without exaggeration of feminine physical qualities.”
This led to some pretty great but secondary characters to their male counterparts. Lois Lane to Superman, Vicki Vale to Batman, Carol Gerris to Green Latern and Iris West to The Flash. This lead to them alienating their female readership. They are pushing women down from heroes to only being important to help their male counterpart.
The 70s turned back towards feminism and trying to diverse the readership again. Ms Marvel, which later turned into Captain Marvel, was birthed in this era. A lot of female X-Men came out of this time as well. We got Phoenix, Storm, Kitty Pryde, and Rogue. Birds of Prey happened at the end of this era as well.
Women have been on their ups and downs in their portrayal in comic books. Even though the field is filled with women, it is always a struggle. It is always viewed as women are invading a man’s world.
We are reemerging into comic books and movies. We are showing up in comic book movies. The audience has spoken and they love girl power.