Phantom Lady: Why are there so many superheroines I’ve never heard of?

Phantom Lady

Take a look at this lovely image I came across today. It’s of comic book superheroine Phantom Lady. I’m not massively into superhero comics- but being on a graphic novels course and the recent Hollywood onslaught of superhero movies has meant that over the last couple of years my knowledge of the various characters and story arcs has massively increased. Yet I’d still never heard of Phantom Lady. In the introduction to “The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy and the History of Comic Book Heroines” Mike Madrid notes that,

“When I mentioned to people that I was working on this book, many asked if it was about Wonderwoman. Many were unable to name any other comic book heroines that they knew, reflecting on what little exposure these characters get within the industry”.

Ok, so I would have done a little better than that a couple of years ago, but only because of X-Men. So why is it that these strong female characters, in supposedly enlightened times, are still so very much in the shadow of their male counterparts? Why hasn’t there been a Wonderwoman or She-Hulk movie?

The simple answer is “sexism”, but I doubt that that would be telling the whole story. Perhaps it is even with the aim of avoiding the sexism label that no superheroine movies (where the leading role is that of a lone female crime fighter) have been made (except Catwoman back in 2004) as the costumes are often top of the list for traditional feminists to attack and changing the costumes might loose the core comics fan base.

I’d love to see more superheroine movies (and in fact movies centred around women at all) because as a fan of sci-fi, fantasy and action movies it pains me to see women under represented and reduced to the same paper template characters over and over again. The bland love interest victim, the sexy super-villain. It’s not that there aren’t exceptions, but by 2011 we should have moved beyond just exceptions.

I’d also love to see a superheroine comic book on a stand and want to read it. My childhood was filled with Japanese magic girls like Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura, but as the pseudo “grown up” that I apparently am now I’ve struggled to find anything that fills that gap.

I wandered far enough off topic on what was supposed to be a concise post about how much I liked that Phantom Lady illustration. Sorry!

This entry was published on August 11, 2011 at 3:09 pm. It’s filed under What I Learnt Today and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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