Kristy Guevara-Flanagan grew up with Lynda Carter’s “Wonder Woman” television show in the late 70’s. She, like so many of us, was captivated as we watched Diana Prince spin her way into becoming her star-spangled, superhuman self and explains, “there simply wasn’t anything else out there that captured my imagination as a little girl.” But the allure of the powerful, lasso of truth toting, bulletproof bracelet wearing, invisible airplane flying female superhero stayed with Kristy into her adult life and became the basis of her documentary WONDER WOMEN! THE UNTOLD STORY OF AMERICAN SUPERHEROINES.
The fun and warmly witty film looks at female superheroes, warrior princesses and other icons of women’s empowerment in pop culture. It invites women and girls, men and boys, to consider how stereotypes in the comic art genre serve to limit our vision of women, while reinforcing some of society’s deepest prejudices against them.
At the center of the film is the groundbreaking figure of Wonder Woman, the 1940s comic book creation of a Harvard-trained pop psychologist, feminist theorist, and writer, William Moulton Marston (pen name Charles Moulton). In a 1943 issue of The American Scholar, Marston wrote, “Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.”
In a letter to comics historian Coulton Waugh, he also wrote, “Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world.”
Kristy’s film traces the evolution of Marston’s original, radical World War II era, Wonder Woman archetype, to her uninspiring 1960s incarnation as a fashion boutique owner, to her dramatic resurrection by feminist Gloria Steinem and the women of Ms. Magazine, to her current continuing legacy (sadly, she has yet to make it to the big screen).
“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.”, shared Kristy, the film’s creator and Director.
The film also goes behind the scenes with actress Lynda Carter (“Wonder Woman” TV show: 1975-1979), actress Lindsay Wagner (“The Bionic Woman” TV show: 1976-1878), comic writers and artists, and real-life superheroines such as Kathleen Hanna and others like 4th grader and Wonder Woman Fan Katie Pineda, who offer an enlightening and entertaining counterpoint to the male-dominated superhero genre.
Exploring how our highly visual culture places more emphasis on girls’ and women’s looks rather than on their deeds, WONDER WOMEN! urges women to claim the action genre – and media in general – as their own, if they want to change how they are represented.
“For some it’s Lara Croft, for others it’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but we all need those iconic heroes that tell us we have the power to slay our dragons and don’t have to wait around to be rescued.”– Kristy Guevara-Flanagan
THE FILM’S BROADCAST PREMIERE
WONDER WOMEN! THE UNTOLD STORY OF AMERICAN SUPERHEROINES will have its television broadcast premiere on PBS’s Independent Lens series on Monday, April 15, 2013, at 10:00pm. Check your local listings to confirm the time and date.