I’ve been looking forward to seeing this independent documentary since I first saw the trailer last year. I finally got my chance earlier this week when Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines aired on PBS’s Independent Lens.
Thankfully, after a year of anticipation this film did not disappoint.
Wonder Women! is not only a fascinating study of Wonder Woman’s roots, history, and cultural significance, but also of the feminist movement as a whole. This story is told largely through interviews with various academics, writers, and feminist icons such as Gloria Steinem, Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman), Lindsay Wagner (The Bionic Woman), Gail Simone (Batgirl, Wonder Woman), and Kathleen Hanna (leader singer of Bikini Kill and Riot Grrrl founder).
The film explores the history of Wonder Woman beginning with her war-time debut in the ’40s, followed by the devastating Seduction of the Innnocent and subsequent advent of the Comic Code in the ’50s, the “Mod Girl Wonder Woman” of the ’60s, and Wonder Woman’s appearance on Ms. Magazine in the ’70s. The film then shifts its focus to new media starting with an examination of the much beloved Lynda Carter Wonder Woman TV series of the ’70s.
Before the film, I didn’t truly comprehend the monumental effect the Wonder Woman TV series had on the industry. With the rise of Second Wave Feminism in the ’70s, Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman helped pave the way for the rise of other women led shows such as The Bionic Woman and Charlie’s Angels. These ultimately led to more strong female characters in subsequent decades like Ellen Ripley, Sarah Conner, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Xena.
Check out the film online for free now through June 14th and let me know what you thought in the comments!