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Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines

SXSW 2012 film review

Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines

Director: Kristy Guevara-Flanagan This documentary examines the fascinating evolution and legacy of Wonder Woman and introduces audiences to a dynamic group of real life superheroes who continue to fight the good fight both on and off the screen. (World Premiere)

Film Synopsis (from SXSW.com)

WHO'S IT FOR?: All movie fans, and comic book fans. You don't have to be a big Wonder Woman fan before going in.


This documentary has a great structure, in which it uses the DC Comics superhero Wonder Woman as its central example of how important heroines can be to their followers, and also how said heroines are still powerless to image-conscious writers who manipulate their creations to better align with current cultural images. First and foremost, it provides a thoughtful background on the surprising history of Wonder Woman, which would probably make for a fascinating documentary of its own. As it tells the story of how Wonder Woman changed throughout the decades from a strong statement of "girl power" (a Bikini Kill term) to that of submission, the documentary keeps things lively with truly animated graphic art that is picked from the comics with wit and full knowledge.

With a colorful amount of talking heads, (including Gloria Steinem, who appears in multiple decades of stock footage), the film also discusses the serious usage the image of Wonder Woman was given by female movements in the 60s.

The discussion of Wonder Woman then leads to an equally fascinating talk about how stories portray their strong female characters, especially in films like Terminator 2: Judgment Day or the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" TV series. The documentary provides fans of these notable heroines something that might be different for some within fan culture - analysis over worship.

With another impending summer movie schedule filled with super men, (The Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises, most of The Avengers), a documentary like this feels even more necessary. Thankfully, we've now got Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, (a character briefly mentioned in this up-to-date doc), but after viewing this intelligent movie, it is definitely clear that female heroes have much more fighting to do. Still, the attitude of this documentary is efficient - it is as intellectual as it is hopeful.


Code of the West