When a girl faces a super problem, who can she look to for inspiration? DC Comics is offering entertaining and fun ideas for kids as well as counting on an entire universe of superhero role models to empower and motivate young girls.
DC Super Hero Girls focuses on a band of heroes – including iconic faces such as Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl – during their tumultuous teen years attending Super Hero High. Along with other female characters from the DC Comics canon, such as the sword-wielding Katana and the incredible shrinking Bumblebee, the best friends navigate everyday teen drama while fighting off villains and learning to master their super powers. Comic fans will also recognize younger versions of supervillains, including wisecracking Harley Quinn and shrewd Poison Ivy, in their more innocent years.
DC Super Hero Girls is aimed toward ages 6 to 12 and will ultimately encompass a series of animated shorts, an hour-long special on the Boomerang network, mobile mini-games, action figure dolls and LEGO sets. Acclaimed screenwriter Shea Fontana, whose background in children’s programming includes the award-winning “Doc McStuffins,” was tapped as a writer and story editor for the animated shorts and an upcoming graphic novel, set to release July 6. We asked Fontana about the hoped-for impact of this cast of female superheroes on young viewers.
Where do you draw inspiration for the superheroes’ personal stories as teenagers?
While all of our main characters come from the DC Comics world, they’re at a different age, so we have created a new universe and aren’t tied to any canon. We really want to stay true to their core characteristics, but we have room for them to be believable teenagers who can connect with our audience. Look at Wonder Woman, who has been such a great inspiration for women for over 75 years. She still has those same qualities as a leader – the first one to enter a burning building to save a life – but she’s also a teenager who is still figuring out who she is and where she belongs in the world.
As a writer, do you feel an increased sense of responsibility to create fun ideas for kids because your audience is specifically such a young, female audience?
There is a sense of responsibility to make sure these characters are not just stereotypes. We have to make sure they’re rich, strong characters who are independent and can kick butt.
A couple of notorious comic villains belong to this group of teens. Will we see the point when they cross over to the darker side?
We don’t see them go 100 percent bad, but they are flirting with that line between good and evil. We’re exploring these characters in this world where they have these great female friends around them. Because we are in this alternate universe where everyone is a teenager, we can even ask: How could things have changed if they always had this support network to guide them through difficult times? They’re a bit edgier than the other characters, but there’s still very much an innocence to everything they do.
Who were some of your role models growing up?
I watched a lot of “Lois and Clark,” and I thought Lois Lane was pretty awesome.
What advice do you have for parents in terms of exposing their children to empowered female characters?
Our big message is, “If they can see it, they can be it.” We’re putting diverse characters on screen and have fun ideas for kids, each of which is embracing their super powers in different ways. The more we see empowered females taking control of their own lives, I think that’s always going to be something that young girls embrace. Modeling that kind of behavior is something we can do for all the girls in our lives.
To meet the students of Super Hero High, visit www.dcsuperherogirls.com.