Documentary celebrates ‘Wonder Women’

Contemporary film traces feminist history through portrayal of iconic superheroine

Carmela Lane, who moved to the U.S. from Brazil when she was 23, displays one of several tattoos of the character who inspires her in a scene from “Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines.” Enlarge photo

Courtesy of ITVS

Carmela Lane, who moved to the U.S. from Brazil when she was 23, displays one of several tattoos of the character who inspires her in a scene from “Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines.”

March is Women’s History Month, and the Women’s Resource Center could not have picked a better film to get the word out than “Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines.”

The local advocacy organization will sponsor a screening of the entertaining documentary Thursday, and producer and co-director Kelcey Edwards will be there. The WRC and the Fort Lewis College Gender and Women’s Studies Program is teaming for several events during the month.

The movie looks at the progress, regression and progress again of women in the 20th and 21st centuries through the lens of Wonder Woman, the superheroine who first appeared in DC Comics in December 1941. In her first few years, Wonder Woman was an icon of feminism, vanquishing villains on a par with her male super-counterparts.

But mirroring post-World War II society, Wonder Woman softened for a while. Like the women who returned to the kitchen after a stint in the workforce that created an arsenal of democracy, Wonder Woman became domesticated. After fighting Nazis, she joined the Justice Society of America as its secretary. By the 1960s, Wonder Woman owned a fashion boutique.

The movie includes many big names. Feminist champion Gloria Steinem and Riot Grrrl Kathleen Hanna share screen time with the Lynda Carter and Lindsay Wagner, who as TV’s Wonder Woman and Bionic Woman shifted the superheroine image back toward one of strength and independence in the 1970s. The movie also includes later TV and movie heroines suuch as Xena and others. Moviegoers are encouraged to dress as their favorite superheroine for Thursday’s screening.

Co-director Kristy Guevera-Flanagan wrote: “I loved the idea of looking at something as populist as comics to reveal our cultural obsessions, and in particular, how women’s roles have changed through time. The narratives of our most iconic superheroes, told and re-told over decades, boldly outline our shifting values. For some, it’s Lara Croft, for others, it’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but we all need those iconic heroes that tell us we have the power to slay our dragons and don’t have to wait around to be rescued.”

“Wonder Women” also will be shown on the award-winning Independent Lens series beginning April 15 on PBS stations.

ted@durangoherald.com