The Current

Can Wonder Woman be 1st female-led superhero blockbuster?

It has taken a long time to get feminist icon Wonder Woman on the big screen, and now that she's here — she's demanding action.
Gal Gadot's performance as Wonder Woman has received rave reviews, disproving the myth that female superheroes don't work. (Clay Enos/DC Entertainment/Warner Bros. Pictures)

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There are big hopes riding on Wonder Woman's shoulders as she comes to life on the silver screen.

The new Wonder Woman movie is the female superhero's first live-action appearance in a leading role since Lynda Carter put on her bustier and grabbed her "lasso of truth" for the TV series in the 1970s.

Fans have waited a long time to see Wonder Woman get her due … or any female superhero for that matter.

Megan Purdy, founder of the Women Write About Comics website​, says the movie industry has been lacking a female superhero in any major role.

"There's been a lot of anticipation just because of that lack. If you look at the comic reading audience, and the superhero film audience, it is almost 50/50 male and female."

Alicia Lutes, managing editor of Nerdist and host of Fangirling!, points to the one-dimensional understanding of female audiences and what holds back female directors.

"Movie studios and executives have held this erroneous belief that there's only room for one women in a lot of scenarios. You know being in front of the camera, behind the camera — what have you. You get one opportunity, versus a lot of men."

Wonder Woman hits theaters June 2. (Clay Enos/Warner Bros. Entertainment/Associated Press)

Much of the excitement around Wonder Woman includes the choice for director: Patty Jenkins, first female director for a studio superhero movie.

In 2016, women made up just seven per cent of all directors of the top 250 grossing films — a two per cent decline from 2015.

"I mean I think it's a huge deal that this movie was directed by a woman." says filmmaker Emily Gagne.

"I never thought I could be a director because all of my favourite directors were men ... I think that a young girl that maybe is like 'I don't know if I can be a filmmaker' will go and say, 'yes, I can be a filmmaker, and I can make a movie about a strong woman and people will like it and people will go to see it.'"

"I remember as a kid growing up reading Superman comics and not identifying at all with the men," says The Current's guest host Jan Wong.

"I identified with Lois Lane, the only female character. That's why I became a reporter."

Listen to the panel's full review on Wonder Woman and thoughts on its cultural impact at the top of this post. 

This segment was produced by The Current's Alison Masemann.