Kapow! Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines offers a nuanced critique of gender and heroism in popular culture as well as a powerful dose of Vitamin F(eminism) for the undernourished. From the birth of the 1940s comic book heroine, Wonder Woman, to the blockbusters of today, Wonder Women! looks at how popular representations of powerful women often reflect society’s anxieties about strong and healthy women. Wonder Women! reveals the complicated negotiations girls and women face as they attempt to achieve confidence, strength, and agency in a society often at odds with those goals. Yet it also inspires through its evocative images, upbeat soundtrack, and richly contextualized history of American superheroines—including the everyday wonder women and action girls in our midst.
Wonder Women! goes behind the scenes with actors Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman) and Lindsay Wagner (the Bionic Woman), comic writers and artists, and real-life superheroines such as feminist icon Gloria Steinem, riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna and others, who offer an enlightening and entertaining counterpoint to the male-dominated superhero genre.
Wonder Women! hits us right where it counts, offering a nuanced critique of gender and heroism in popular culture... Reveals the complicated negotiations girls and women face as we attempt to achieve confidence, strength, and agency in a society often at odds with those goals.
Mary Celeste Kearney
Associate Professor of Media Studies, University of Texas at Austin, and author of Girls Make Media
Movie clips and interviews with Lynda Carter and other actors enliven this exploration of women, power, and popular culture that is both entertaining and a great discussion starter.
Fills a void in popular culture critiques that will inspire both girls and women, and enable lively classroom discussions about the profound influence of media in shaping notions of what women can be and do.
political commentator and Associate Professor of Politics, Occidental College
I thought I knew Wonder Woman, but Kapow! Bam! In true superhero fashion, this film delivered a knock out blow to my simple set of assumptions. Great as a way to introduce ideas and initiate discussion about gender, feminism, girls, and activism.
Lyn Mikel Brown
Professor of Education, Colby College, author of Packaging Girlhood, co-founder of Hardy Girls Healthy Women and SPARK Movement
Who knew that the depiction of Wonder Woman paralleled the pursuit of women’s rights throughout the 20th century? This provocative lens on U.S. women’s history promises to engage students, while pushing them to think critically about the current depiction of strong and empowered women in the media.Drawing together central themes within the fields of women’s and gender studies – beauty, body, sex, power, violence, and media – this film will assist teachers in demonstrating the relevance of feminist criticism to the media-saturated, celebrity-obsessed, and digitally-enhanced culture in which our students live.
Director of the Women’s & Gender Studies Program and Associate Professor of English, University of Texas at Arlington