In the Marvel world, there are so many strong women with superpowers, but unfortunately, they have not always been represented on screen.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe, for example, recently featured Wasp as its first female character to star in a lead role with the theatrical release of “Ant-Man and the Wasp” (although she won’t be the only one after the highly anticipated “Captain Marvel” drops in March 2019).
Marvel television series have slightly improved in representation as a result of “Agent Carter,” “Jessica Jones” and the women in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” The majority of films and TV series the company created, however, are geared toward older audiences, which could limit younger fans from exposure to female representation.
Thankfully, due to the announcement of Marvel Entertainment’s upcoming film, “Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors,” that reality might be changing in the near future.
In August, “Marvel Rising: Initiation” shorts will begin to air on Disney XD, followed by an animated feature-length film on Disney Channel in the fall.
The series will focus on a more diverse group of young Marvel heroes, six of the eight main characters being women: Ghost-Spider, a version of Gwen Stacy with superpowers; Quake, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent; Kamala Khan, a teenager who also goes by the moniker “Ms. Marvel”; Squirrel Girl; America Chavez and Captain Marvel.
Sana Amanat, a Marvel editor and the co-producer of the series, spoke on the need for the representation offered within the show.
“‘Marvel Rising’ is a big storytelling celebration of the next generation of Marvel heroes, for the next generation of Marvel fans. Over the last few years at Marvel, we’ve seen this huge growth in new types of characters, a younger generation of heroes that has brought in a new cast of Marvel fans.
These characters are true to what the Marvel Universe is about, while also being truly reflective of the world outside your window,” Amanat said.
Superheroes are often associated with positive traits, such as strength and bravery, and so, in moving female superheroes to the forefront of the Marvel world, “Marvel Rising” is a step toward helping children grow to associate women with those traits as well.
Media undeniably influences children’s perceptions of women and gender equality, and “Marvel Rising” could definitely aid in normalizing women with equal roles as men.
Last year, Darnell Hunt of UCLA spoke to the Huffington Post about the importance of media in influencing such attitudes.
“We’re pretty confident that, the more TV you watch, the more media you consume, the more likely it is that media ― almost like radiation ― builds up. And the accumulated effect is to make you feel that what you’re seeing is somewhat normal,” Hunt said.
Although “Marvel Rising” is just a small step for overall representation, it marks a notable shift in the portrayals of superheroes in the Marvel Universe and in general.
Superheroes have always been a staple of pop culture, and it’s a good step for Marvel to shift the focus of audiences to some of its notable female heroes.