Wonder Woman on the cover of Ms. Magazine - 1972

Thanks to director Kristy Guevara-Flanagan and producer Kelcey Edwards, a new documentary feature is about to swoop into the film festival circuit this spring.  Their film, ‘Wonder Women! The Untold History of American Superheroines’ will focus heavily on Wonder Woman’s evolution, from proud, pioneering feminist to domesticated romantic, through her de-powered spy days and her fabulous reintroduction on TV, embodied by the still-supernaturally  gorgeous Lynda Carter and beyond.  It will also showcase other powerful ladies, such as The Bionic Woman, Ellen Ripley from the ‘Alien’ franchise, Sarah Conner from ‘The Terminator’ movies, Buffy and Xena.

From their official website:

WONDER WOMEN! THE UNTOLD STORY OF AMERICAN SUPERHEROINES (formerly THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE AS TOLD BY WONDER WOMAN) traces the fascinating evolution and legacy of Wonder Woman. From the birth of the comic book superheroine in the 1940s to the blockbusters of today, WONDER WOMEN! looks at how popular representations of powerful women often reflect society’s anxieties about women’s liberation.

WONDER WOMEN! goes behind the scenes with Lynda Carter, Lindsay Wagner, comic writers and artists, and real life superheroines such as Gloria Steinem, Shelby Knox and others who offer an enlightening and entertaining counterpoint to the male dominated superhero genre.

You can also view an extended trailer for the film on their site, which also showcases the talent that was interviewed for the documentary, which in addition to Carter includes ‘Wonder Woman’ writers Gail Simone and George Perez, as well as other comic book industry insiders.

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman - 1976

The film doesn’t only chronicle Wonder Woman’s history.  It also looks at the way female heroes reflect society’s view of women and these superheroes’ cultural impact, including an interesting Riot Grrrl movement.  In an interview with the Huffington Post, Kelcey explained, “It’s like we are now able to look back through this critical lens that has become very refined and very well articulated, and look back at the trajectory of our pop-culture heritage to get a much better sense of where we are now, and how we got here.”  Kristy added, “I love the idea of looking at something really populist like comic books and action movies to see what they saw about our society and values.”

Kristy was kind enough to answer a few questions for Sciencefiction.com, to give a bit more insight into this movie.

Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, Director

ScienceFiction.com: Are/were you or Kelcey comic book fans growing up?  And if so, did you have any favorite books or characters?

Kristy: I was actually not as much into superhero comics as the more indie comics. I ADORED Love and Rockets…in fact, that is where I really got hooked into the graphic art form..and that was back in high school.  And of course, I loved the strong female characters and the Latino themes (I am half Mexican!)  From there, it was Hate, anything by Julie Doucet, Maus, Eightball, and eventually everything by Adrian Tomine.

'Hate' published by Fantagraphix

ScienceFiction.com: How in tune with current comics are you?  There has been a lot of controversy regarding several female characters like Starfire. Do you have any reaction to that?

Kristy: I am sorta in tune! I read a lot about the recent DC reboot..the controversial changes to characters and those like Oracle, that simply went away. Starfire, like a lot of the female comic characters, is just so sexualized. It’s like it’s hard for writers (and artists) to wrap their brains around a female character who has a healthy sexual appetite but doesn’t have to be a sex object for the audience in every panel!

ScienceFiction.com: Other than Wonder Woman, are any other comic book characters featured in your documentary?

Kristy: We go a lot into action heroines from TV and film but there are cameos from Catwoman, Batgirl, and Lois Lane and we do show some of the strong female characters emerged in the 70s like Power Girl, Phoenix, and Storm. And then there is a darker section, just on the sexualization of women in comics.

We realized we couldn’t possibly mention everyone and still have a strong story instead of an encyclopedia. There will be some fun extras on the DVD of scenes that we had to cut from the feature!

ScienceFiction.com: Since embarking on this project, has your opinion on female heroes changed in any way?

Kristy: It’s interesting. As a consumer of pop culture and a feminist, I have learned how to take the parts that are empowering and exciting to me and try to ignore, when possible, the parts that seem, well, less so. Usually this is about their sexualization which just can seem so gratuitous, and, not really written with me as a reader in mind! But also the fact that they are often a love interest to the bigger star/hero. Or that sometimes that they don’t get to live on and have to die by the end!

ScienceFiction.com: In your opinion, what makes a successful female protagonist?

Kristy: One who lives in the end! One who has flaws and isn’t perfect morally! One who has other female relationships in her life and isn’t raised or trained by only men! One with a sense of humor!

Thanks, Kristy!

The film is set to debut at the South By Southwest Film Festival in March, however the creators need additional funding to finish the film, so they have set up a Kickstarter campaign.  You can contribute by clicking here.  You may also donate by clicking here.  There’s really never been a documentary that focused solely on female heroes, so I am anxious to see this film completed!