SXSW Review: WONDER WOMEN! THE UNTOLD STORY OF AMERICAN SUPERHEROINES

By Laurie Coker A-

I watched it, I did – Wonder Woman starring Lynda Carter, religiously and I actually realized how silly it and shows like The Bionic Woman, starring Lindsey Wagner, really were, but that did not matter. Seeing the “weaker sex” play such powerful characters made a real difference. Not a big fan of comic books, I really knew very little about the origin of Wonder Woman, so when I saw the super long title – WONDER WOMEN! THE UNTOLD STORY OF AMERICAN SUPERHEROINES – on the SXSW schedule my interest piqued.

In this nicely fleshed out documentary, we are told of the origin of female superheroes, in particular Wonder Woman, who came to life in the 1940’s and began it all. Director, Kristy Guevara-Flanagan’s documentary, includes interviews with famed feminist Gloria Steinem, actors Lynda Carter and Lindsey Wagner, and a slew of scholars, writers, and even fans. The film ultimately challenges pop culture’s gender biases by looking at how Wonder Woman’s storyline changed over time. It points out obvious biases and stereotypes. The feature also notes how rarely women are actually depicted as heroic, powerful, or world-changing and how different decades dealt and still deal with women as powerful and independent people. We see the exploitation of woman in many of the portrayal, most notably in skimpy costuming and storylines.

As a woman, I found the documentary enlightening, and as a film fan, I enjoyed the well-woven story.  The creators sought to introduce audiences” to a cast of fictional and real life super- heroines fighting for positive role models for girls, both on screen and off, and remind us of our common human need for stories that tell us we can all be heroes,” and that they do. At just over an hour, they manage to send a clear message and I appreciated it.  I am putting an A- in my grade book. This was one of just over a handful of documentaries I did see at the festival and I am glad I did – it has a successful world premier!

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