Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines

Wonder Women! hits us right where it counts, offering a nuanced critique of gender and heroism in popular culture… Reveals the complicated negotiations girls and women face as we attempt to achieve confidence, strength, and agency in a society often at odds with those goals.
Mary Celeste Kearney, Associate Professor of Media Studies, University of Texas at Austin
Fills a void in popular culture critiques that will inspire both girls and women, and enable lively classroom discussions about the profound influence of media in shaping notions of what women can be and do.
Caroline Heldman, Political Commentator & Professor of Politics, Occidental College
Channels all of the excitement of reading a comic book into an exhilarating and captivating historical account of the evolution of the media’s first true Girl Power figure, Wonder Woman. More importantly, the film compellingly documents the importance of strong mediated role models for girls.
Sharon R. Mazzarella, Professor of Communication Studies, James Madison University
I thought I knew Wonder Woman, but Kapow! Bam! In true superhero fashion, this film delivered a knock-out blow to my simple set of assumptions. Great as a way to introduce ideas and initiate discussion about gender, feminism, girls, activism. I would use it as a way to ground conversations about gender and power, media impact on girls, media activism, and social constructions of femininity.
Lyn Mikel Brown, Professor of Education, Colby College, and author of Packaging Girlhood
This film makes a great addition to the women’s and gender studies classroom. Who knew that the depiction of Wonder Woman paralleled the pursuit of women’s rights throughout the twentieth century? This provocative lens on U.S. women’s history promises to engage students, while pushing them to think critically about the current depiction of strong and empowered women in the media. Drawing together central themes within the fields of women’s and gender studies – beauty, body, sex, power, violence, and media – this film will assist teachers in demonstrating the relevance of feminist criticism to the media-saturated, celebrity-obsessed, and digitally-enhanced culture in which our students live.
Desiree Henderson, Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and Associate Professor of English, University of Texas at Arlington
This important film provides an unparalleled perspective on the enduring power of Wonder Woman in popular culture. Dynamic animations kapow this archetype beyond comic books into the living systems of post-millennial girl power. The result? A truth-telling lasso capturing decades of Wonder Woman’s superheroic impact on the collective imagination.
Kathleen Sweeney, Media Studies Faculty, The New School for Public Engagement, and the author of Maiden USA
A delicious journey through decades of popular culture [that] interweaves the evolution of women superheroes, from the original Wonder Woman comic through Charlie’s Angels, Buffy, Riot Grrrls and beyond, and the history of modern feminism. It’s a vivid demonstration of the complex relationship between creators and consumers of popular culture.
Patricia Aufderheide, Director of the Center for Social Media and Professor of Communication, American University

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Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines is a 2012 documentary film. The work traces the evolution and legacy of Wonder Woman. From the birth of the comic book superheroine in the 1940s to the blockbusters of today, WONDER WOMEN! looks at how popular representations of powerful women often reflect society’s anxieties about women’s liberation.
Wonder Women! goes behind the scenes with Lynda Carter, Lindsay Wagner, comic writers and artists, and real-life superheroines such as Gloria Steinem, Kathleen Hanna and others, who offer an enlightening and entertaining counterpoint to the male-dominated superhero genre.
In her director’s statement, Kristy Guevara-Flanagan said: “When I started telling people about this film, men and women had wildly different reactions. Most of the guys admitted that Wonder Woman was their first TV crush. Women reminisced about how they pretended to be her: twirling a rope to capture foes or spinning to transform themselves into superheroes. I loved the idea of looking at something as populist as comics to reveal our cultural obsessions, and in particular, how women’s roles have changed over time. The narratives of our most iconic superheroes, told and re-told over decades, boldly outline our shifting values. That’s one story WONDER WOMEN! tells, but to me, it’s not the most interesting one. I hope the film also conveys the unpredictable ways those icons can shape and even transform us in return. For some it’s Lara Croft, for others it’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but we all need those iconic heroes: they tell us we have the power to slay our dragons and don’t have to wait around to be rescued”.
 

Watch the trailer 

Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines 

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Wonder Women! 

To start off, full disclosure: I’m a female geek who loves film history, documentaries and, to a lesser extent, comic book culture. So I’m pretty much predisposed to like any documentary called . But I’m guessing that, if you’re reading this, O Mary Sue reader, you probably are too.
If that’s the case, you’ll be happy to hear that Wonder Women, directed by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, doesn’t disappoint. The film, which has been making the rounds on the film festival circuit (I caught it at the Seattle International Film Festival earlier this month), brings in Gloria Steinem, Lynda Carter, Lindsey Wagner, Jane Espenson and many more actors, producers, feminist and media scholars and plain ol’ Wonder Woman superfans to discuss the birth and evolution of the female superhero, from the creation of Wonder Woman (by matriarchy-obsessed bondage enthusiast, psychologist, and inventor William Moulton Marston) to the current post-Buffy/Ripley/Sarah Connor world.
It’s a pretty big subject, and given the movie’s 60-odd minute running time it would be impossible to cover any specific aspect of it in-depth. Wonder Women doesn’t try to—it’s a good, fun overview that, personally, got me intrigued about some aspects of the history of superheroines I wasn’t familiar with (Wonder Woman in the ‘50s—What. The. Hell?!) while also causing me to bounce up and down excitedly when characters and shows I like (hey Buffy, The Vampire Slayer!) made an appearance.
Wonder Women isn’t just a history lesson committed to film, though. The various feminist and media scholars interviewed in the film place the evolution of the superheroine within the broader context of the feminist movement, examining its impact on the Women’s Movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s, the Riot Grrrl movement of the ‘90s and the younger female geeks currently coming of age. And it’s that last part that gives Wonder Women some of its most most inspiring moments. I wish I’d been as comfortable with my geekiness when I was as young as Wonder Woman fan Katie Pineda, who was inspired by and inventor William Moulton Marston) to the current post-Buffy/Ripley/Sarah Connor world.
It’s a pretty big subject, and given the movie’s 60-odd minute running time it would be impossible to cover any specific aspect of it in-depth. Wonder Women doesn’t try to—it’s a good, fun overview that, personally, got me intrigued about some aspects of the history of superheroines I wasn’t familiar with (Wonder Woman in the ‘50s—What. The. Hell?!) while also causing me to bounce up and down excitedly when characters and shows I like (hey Buffy, The Vampire Slayer!) made an appearance.
Wonder Women isn’t just a history lesson committed to film, though. The various feminist and media scholars interviewed in the film place the evolution of the superheroine within the broader context of the feminist movement, examining its impact on the Women’s Movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s, the Riot Grrrl movement of the ‘90s and the younger female geeks currently coming of age. And it’s that last part that gives Wonder Women some of its most most inspiring moments. I wish I’d been as comfortable with my geekiness when I was as young as Wonder Woman fan Katie Pineda, who was inspired by her hero’s strength and capability to not let peers make her feel bad about doings things she enjoys, like shooting arrows, drawing comics and dressing up as Wonder Woman at conventions. And while it’s true that 97% of the decision-makers in the entertainment world are men, it’s hard to watch the participants at Seattle’s Reel Grrls summer video camp discover their love of making short films and not get the impression that there are going to be a lot more female content creators on the scene a few years from now.
Sure, there are a lot of aspects of the representation of female heroes that were glossed over. I, for one, didn’t mind that. Yes, there is still rampant sexism in comics, TV and movies. It’s obvious, and it’s not something that anyone with a modicum of sense would dispute. But that’s not what Wonder Women is about. It’s a film about empowerment, about taking a look at where we are now compared to where we were 70 years ago and realizing that yeah, there’s still a lot that needs to change—but, at the risk of sounding cheesy, with so many real-life superheroines living in the world, change is possible.

 

Filmmaker Kristy Guevara-Flanagan on the Making of Wonder Women!

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Movie Info

Feature documentary exploring the concept of heroic women from the birth of the superhero in the 1940s to the TV and big screen action blockbusters of today. Heroic role models are important in childhood development, yet there is a dearth of these for girls. Wonder Woman provides a rare example of a female heroine who doesn’t require rescue, determines her own missions, and possesses uniquely feminine values. Featuring Gloria Steinem, actors Lynda Carter and Lindsey Wagner, and a colorful cast of scholars, writers, and fans, the film challenges pop culture’s gender biases by looking at how Wonder Woman’s storyline changed over time while considering how women are rarely depicted as heroic, powerful, or world-changing.

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Rating: PG-13
Genre: Documentary | Fantasy | History | Sci-Fi

Directed by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan
Kelcey Edwards … producer
Erin Prather Stafford … executive producer
Music by Jimmy LaValle
Cinematography by Gabriel Miller
Film Editing by Carla Gutierrez, Melanie Vi Levy
Sound Department
Andrew Roth … sound editor
Camera and Electrical Department
Robert Arnold … additional camera
PJ Raval … additional cinematographer
Animation Department
Sylvia Roberts … animator
Editorial Department
Robert Arnold … post-production coordinator
Ashton Ryan Gallagher … assistant editor
Summers Henderson … assistant editor
Corey Ohama … additional editor
Runtime:
|

Official Sites: Official Facebook | Official site |
Country: USA
Language:English
Release Date: 10 March 2012 (USA)
Studio: Vaquera Films

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