Joss Whedon Answers the Call for Superheroines in Hollywood

There aren’t enough female superheroes in blockbuster films, says Avengers filmmaker Joss Whedon. "We're just people," he recently told a reporter on the red carpet at a Collider event. "Obviously there are differences between men and women, but deep down, the same ambitions, the same jealousies, the same fears — they may articulate and be structured differently, but we're all just folk. I don't understand anybody who can't write everybody."

Iron Man, Superman, Batman and Spiderman are just a few superheroes we’ve recently seen on the big screen. These do-gooding dudes serve as perfect role models for adolescent boys but heroines for their female counterparts are rare. And when we do see them? They’re hardly the pillars of strength portrayed by male heroes. One study published at Florida State University found that female superheroes are usually emotional, superficial, flighty and more likely than males to ask questions. Case in point: Sue Storm, Invisible Girl, from Fantastic Four and Jean Grey from X-men.

However, some real-life superwomen are turning the idea of a female hero on its head. In May, a group of girls from the Valley Gardens Grrlz Club, an after-school program for girls in grades 7-9, created a set of trading cards for “The Craftastics”, a group of heroines who fight the everyday battles that teenagers face. The Masked Peacock combats racism, Shapesista is a role model for body image, and the Straight Shooter, is out to destroy drugs and alcohol.

Then there’s artist Alexandria Law who sketches superheroes from images of real little girls in costumes on her Tumblr blog "Little Girls Are Better at Designing Superheroes Than You." She writes on her site, “Kids are more impressionable than you, but kids can also be less restricted by cultural gender norms than you. Kids are more creative than you, and they're better at making superheroes than you.” Some of her masterpieces include Batgirl rocking a black frilly skirt, leather jacket and princess crown and a female Incredible Hulk wearing a pink and purple tutu with pigtails and bows in her hair. And the Tumblr “Superheroes are for girls, too” is a compilation of more than 400 photos of little girls dressed as superheroes, meeting superheroes, and reading superhero comics.

Hollywood is making some progress—Scarlett Johansson has played the Black Widow in both "Iron Man 2" (2010) and "The Avengers" (2012) and Whedon says that Scarlet Witch, a female member of the X-Men mutants, will join the Avengers ensemble for the sequel due out in 2015. Also, actress Chloë Grace Moretz, 16, will reprise her role as a junior assassin in the Kick Ass series later this summer. Her character’s expletive language and dirty jokes may not appeal to parents, but she’s a heroine in Hollywood nonetheless (Her purple bobbed wig and school uniform inspired outfit are cool and age-appropriate too). Meanwhile, we’re crossing out fingers for a Wonder Woman flick. Or maybe one called The Craftastics.