Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines

In 2012 I went to the Perth Revolution Film Festival and fell in love with a documentary. The documentary was called Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines. It traces the influence that Wonder Woman and other female superheroines had on people around the world, and in America in particular, on the evolution of the female story and on the historical backdrop that influenced the female heroes that permeated our culture, even though they were somewhat limited in their reach.

I recently tried to get a copy of the DVD because I loved it so much, and discovered that they currently do not have a distributor for sale of a DVD for home use. This is coming though, and in the meantime there are distribution options for if you would like to pay more for the DVD and in return have the option to screen it at community events or use it as an education tool in schools. This makes me excited.

So let’s review this amazing documentary under the jump; but first, check out this trailer.

Unfortunately blogger won't allow me to embedd vimeo links. Go figure.

For her birthday, I took my 10 year old cousin to the movies to see Life of Pi. She was blown away by the movie and asked a lot of questions afterwards; looking around the Luna Cinema in Leederville, taking in the various indie films advertised on the walls, sporting her very cool Wonder Woman back pack. She turned to me at one point and said “Aunty Nessy, why aren’t there more movies with cool female super heroes? I love Black Widow and Wonder Woman, but there are no new movies about them. Why?” I didn’t really have any proper string of words for her, I could talk about this for ages, but I was busy smiling that at the age of 10 she was keen to have these stories. That she was interested in Wonder Woman and the Black Widow, in Morgana from Merlin, in Merida from Brave, and in the possibility of other female characters who rock. She loves Iron Man, Captain Jack Sparrow and Merlin too. But she is more aware of the gap in the female super heroes. I want to help fill that gap. And I want to fill it with good things. Amazing things. I can’t wait to get her into comics, or til she’s old enough to watch Buffy.

All of this conversation finds a real voice in Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines. I hope it’s accessible, it might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but it does an amazing job of documenting the importance of the characters of this time, from Wonder Woman, Xena and Buffy through to Ripley and Sarah Connor. These are icons; moments in comics, cinema and TV, that we changed something. We (do you mean we? Or they?) told important stories and we told them well. They provided something that was different to what we were used to and they influenced story telling moving forward.

Reliving the time in my life that the documentary touches on where the influx of female heroes on TV, particularly Buffy and Xena, was fantastic. And then noting that there was a time where there was a mass exodus and they all died or were rebooted in a less ‘strong female’ or ‘butt kicking’ way, that was was a really valuable moment for me. I was too young to have read all of the original tales of Wonder Woman as the Amazon tough gal, I really only saw her as part of the Justice League, and I always found that a bit disappointing. I want to know more now, about those old stories, about the new stories that are coming out that are reimagining her. I want to understand the influence that the TV series had on the genre and on the world. This documentary gave me a snap shot of that.

There are lots of interesting concepts explored. Interviews with older ladies who were influenced and inspired by the story of Wonder Woman, interviews with young girls who are having the same experience. There are interviews with important writers, actresses, activists, musicians and every day readers and viewers. There’s a good mix and it’s a strong and inspiring story.

As the story closed out, there were clips of various women talking about who the Wonder Women in their lives are. And I don’t think there was a single person in the room, male or female, who was not emotional.

Highly recommended.


  1. I've wanted to see this ever since the Kickstarter was launched! Glad to see it was good.