As more and more marginalized voices continue to speak out against inequality around the world, there are a lot of people out there now trying to make sure those voices are heard. Both Marvel and DC Entertainment are currently preparing to release their first female-led superhero films with Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman, respectively. And the two studios are also working on Black Panther, Cyborg and Aquaman to introduce more superheroes of color.
Wonder Woman is the first of these films releasing in theaters, and for the moment the most pertinent. The first trailer for the film that debuted in July received 7 million views in just 24 hours, as fans tuned in to see what the popular female superhero would look like on the big screen. The achievement is actually two-fold because this year also just so happens to be the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman. She first appeared in All Star Comics #8 in December 1941 and has since grown to become a worldwide feminist icon.
Now the character can add one more triumph to her growing list of accomplishments: Wonder Woman has been named the United Nation’s Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. The ceremony was attended on Friday, October 21st by current Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot, ‘70s Wonder Woman TV icon Lynda Carter, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson, and UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Cristina Gallach, as well as members of the Girl Scouts and other young girls who were invited to witness the event.
As the group’s honorary spokeswoman, Wonder Woman will soon feature in several different materials released in 2017 by DC Comics and Warner Bros to help achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Nelson herself spoke before the assembly, reminding the audience what the character means to people: “Wonder Woman is already an ambassador from the Amazons to Man’s world, with the goal of uniting men and women to achieve equality for everyone. But what makes Wonder Woman powerful isn’t that she represents, ‘look what girls can do.’ It’s that she represents, ‘look what girls can already do.’”
Carter also spoke at the event, and received a standing ovation as she talked about how the character is an inspiration to all women: “In some magical and mystical way, there lies within each of us a Wonder Woman. She is real. She lives and she breathes. I know this because she lives in me, and she lives in stories that these women tell me, day in and day out.” After citing a few examples, she then added: “She brings out the strength every woman has. We are stronger together. We are half the world. We have a voice. We are the mothers of mankind.”
However, not everyone is so happy to see a fictional character as a representative of the UN, and two dozen members also silently gathered during the event while facing the wall in the back of the room with fists up in the air in protest. To them “a large-breasted white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring bodysuit with an American flag motif and knee-high boots,” as they wrote in an online petition, isn’t fit to represent the very real women around the world who should be championed for the work they’ve done.
Yet while Wonder Woman may have her critics, it’s hard to find a more prominent female to represent empowerment than this character. She’s represented empowerment for almost a hundred years, and she holds her own with all the guys in the Justice League. The UN should of course still focus on showing examples of real life, strong women alongside Wonder Woman. But in order to attract the attention of more people (young and old) with their campaign, it seems they could do worse than the Amazonian princess, who is definitely the focus of the world right now as we move forward into a better future.