Group of participants dressed as Wonder Woman Group of participants dressed as Wonder Woman Women around the world are getting excited about Wonder Woman! Dozens of participants dressed up as the female suphero at the 2015 City To Surf Race in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: Brendon Thorne / Getty Images)

Damsel in distress no more: Female superheroes' status soars

How the comic book industry is shedding its male-dominated image.

Is the world ready for you, Wonder Woman? The people have spoken, and the answer is a resounding "yes."

There's a new, refreshing perspective on female heroism in the comic book world. And with a fan base that's 47 percent female, it's clear that perspective is long overdue. In the most recent installment of Katie Couric's Yahoo News video series, the anchor explores the evolution of women in comics and introduces viewers to a new wave of comic book creators, writers and artists shaking up the industry.

This trend is playing out not just in comic books, but on the big and small screens as well. Meredith Finch, a writer for the "Wonder Woman" comics, is excited for the 2017 movie adaptation of the beloved character. But before that movie comes out, fans will get to see the Amazonian Princess, played by Israeli actress and model Gal Gadot, in a supporting role in "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice," slated for release in March 2016.

"I firmly believe that she is going to steal the show in that 'Batman vs. Superman' movie, and that everybody is going to walk out of the theater and they're not going to be talking about Henry [Cavill] or Ben Affleck, they're going to be talking about Gal and the phenomenal job she's done as Wonder Woman," Finch said in the Yahoo video.

Affleck Gadot Cavill Batman vs SupermanBen Affleck, Gal Gadot and Henry Cavill star in "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice," to be released in 2016. (Photo: Clay Enos/Warner Bros. via Entertainment Weekly)

Take the most recent San Diego Comic-Con, where the standing-room only "Women of Marvel" seminar became one of the most talked-about sessions of the convention. Many people were surprised at the heavy turnout and popularity of the seminar, but for insiders familiar with the history of the industry, the response made perfect sense.

"I really do feel like women are stepping up and demanding what they want, and publishers are responding," Finch said.

Actresses Gwendoline Christie, Hayley Atwell and Gal Gadot attend the "Entertainment Weekly: Women Who Kick Ass" panel during Comic-Con International on July 11, 2015Actresses Gwendoline Christie, Hayley Atwell and Gal Gadot attend the "Entertainment Weekly: Women Who Kick Ass" panel during Comic-Con International on July 11, 2015, in San Diego, California. (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

But it wasn't always this way. As far back as the 1950s, women were portrayed in comic books as the quintessential damsels in distress, existing only to make the male protagonist look more heroic. That, experts say, is a reflection of the assumption that the books' core audience was male.

"The fact is, women were used as more of a device in storytelling to make sure that the male heroes had somebody to rescue and help," Tara Butters, an executive producer and writer for the ABC series "Agent Carter," said in the video.

That's changing, though, as more and more women writers, artists and producers enter the field.

"People come up to us and say, 'I want to do what you do,'" Butters said. "And they're 15."

So what does the future hold for comics?

If young, enthusiastic female fans have their say, Wonder Woman won't just be a fictional character anymore. She'll be a state of mind.


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