Super-men and the comic book dilemma

Madeline Gallegos

Black Widow (left) as she appears in The Aveng...
Black Widow (left) as she appears in The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When kids are asked about what they want to be, typically adults receive an array of responses ranging from doctor to president to actor. However, some with vivid imaginations might say “super hero”. Between the Avengers, X-Men, and Superman, who wouldn’t want to be a super hero? The only problem with that is, there aren’t many female super heroes. Sure, there’s Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Black Widow, and Storm, but for every one female super hero, there’s countless male heroes.

With a slew of super hero themed films breaking box office records, few pass the Bechdel test, which requires at least two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man.  In fact, people are starting to question the female roles in comic books. There’s a lacking female presence in not only film depictions of super heroes but in comic books as well, so much so that even children who read these comics are speaking out about the issue.


Recently an eleven-year old named Rowan wrote to DC Comics asking them to make more female characters, films, and comic books. Citing an additional lack of action figures (1 female for every 5 males), as well as the fact that the colors used on the figures were pink and purple, Rowan explains that she loves reading comic books, but that “[she] would love them a whole lot more if there were more girls” (Upworthy, 2015). Rowan finishes her letter telling DC that they should do something about the problem because “girls read comics too and they care” (Upworthy, 2015).

The absence of female characters is a problem in the comic book world. Young female comic book readers need and want role models just as much as their male counterparts. They don’t need female characters who stand back and let men save the day, they don’t need female characters who are victimized, and they definitely don’t need female characters who are overly sexualized. However, what they do need are strong female characters who have realistic body types and can think, speak, and act on their own behalf. Heroism shouldn’t be reserved only for men, but for all sexes and genders.

DC Comics promised that both the Wonder Woman movie and Supergirl TV show were in the works and moving forward. However, in the comic book industry as a whole, it’s incredibly important that women and female characters are more widely accepted. Female fans are extremely neglected and it’s important not only from a marketing/business aspect to reach out to various populations, but also from a feministic point of view. In the future, it is crucial that female characters are highlighted and empowered, so that fans everywhere are given a chance to be super.

Maddie Gallegos can be reached at