Despite the recent efforts to diversify the superheroes population in both DC and Marvel Comics, women are vastly under-represented in comic books. There is only 26.7 percent of all DC and Marvel characters are female, and only 12 percent of mainstream superhero comics have female protagonists. Furthermore, they are frequently hyper-sexualized, unnecessarily brutalized, disregarded, stereotyped, created as spinoffs (Batgirl, Spidergwen) and used as token characters.
Through extensive dives into yearly character releases since the 1930s and comparisons of most common powers by gender, the apparent imbalance between female and male superheroes will be explored along with notable distinctions between the sexes.
Exploring the timeline of character releases since 1935 presented an understanding of how under-represented women are in DC and Marvel Comics. In hindsight, the recent increase of female character releases showcased a positive development in the comic industry. However, when analyzed in correlation with male characters releases, the changes are less impactful.
▧ More males with power
▧ More females with power
Looking through the graphs on the left, there's a trend of females having more mental abilities and males having more physical powers. Women tend to dominate stereotypically physical powers like prehensile hair, hair controlling, or pheromones control. There is a clear trend in how women are represented in comic books and a necessary need for a change in the industry on the distribution of superpowers.
Impossible to harm; immune to all forms of physical damage
Ability to sustain prolonged physical or mental effort
Frenzied, violent and/or destructive strength
Ability to adapt to anything and quickly evolves
Ability to generate and control pheromones, which may affect emotional and physical states
Ability to control one’s own hair
Ability to fully interpret and replicate the emotions, moods, and temperaments of others
Ability to mentally receive and/or transmit information
Use of faculties or phenomena that are inexplicable by natural laws - in particular telepathy or clairvoyance
Ability to use various forms of mental abilities and powers
Ability to manipulate emotions
Ability to alter or deceive the perceptions of another
Has an overwhelmingly hypnotic presence that can influence and bend minds
Ability to perceive future events before they happen
With the growing popularity of DC and Marvel characters in mainstream TV series, movies, and video games come the increasing importance of the representations of both genders in comic books. There is not only a need to increase the female population in comic books but also changes in the way they are represented. Thankfully, DC and Marvel are increasing the importance of female characters in the overall storyline - notably Jane Foster becoming Thor and Scarlet Witch in House of M - as well as their depiction with the recent redesign of the Batgirl's outfit.
While characters tend to maintain their original characteristics in the past, significant changes are now appearing in their stories. For examples, the return of Batgirl & Bruce Wayne's engagement with Selena Kyle. In essence, there is hope for the representation of females in comic books with the coming changes in DC and Marvel.
Website made by Duc Minh Pham for YSDN3006
All arts and illustrations are altered by Duc Minh Pham and owned by respective comapnies References