Editor’s Note: Babble and Marvel are both a part of The Walt Disney Company.
If you ask any young child (boy or girl) to list some famous superheroes, you’ll probably hear many of the old favorites, from Superman to Batman to Ironman. Hopefully Wonder Woman will be in there too, as she’s seen a resurgence thanks to the fierceness of Gal Gadot; or Rey from Star Wars, who set the standard for courage and strength.
But have you heard of Ms. Marvel or Ghost Spider? Trust me, you’ll want to check them out, if you haven’t already.
Marvel isn’t just catching up to the rest of the world when it comes to using strong female leads — they’ve been telling the stories of strong women for a long, long time. And now, with the new multi-platform animated series Marvel Rising, comes more incredible stories of girl power you won’t want to miss.
Both the 80-minute film Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors and the six-part web series Marvel Rising: Initiation follow the adventures of Ghost Spider, Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, Quake, and America Chavez — all of whom are female leads, and pretty inspiring in their own unique ways. But the series isn’t just about kicking butt and taking names. A recent press release for Marvel Rising says it aims to focus on promoting “inclusivity, empowerment, and reliability” to a tween audience.
A tween audience of impressionable young girls who need to see strong, brave women they can admire. Women who don’t need to be rescued by a man, but can face tough challenges head-on because they’re smart enough and strong enough to do so.
Tween girls need to see that female superheroes aren’t a unique exception, but are just as powerful and common throughout TV and movies as male leads. Our daughters — and our sons — should see that heroes come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. And that’s exactly where the Secret Warriors come in.
Both the web series and the film follow the traditional superhero model of harboring secret identities for each heroine (e.g., Ghost Spider is really a teenage girl in a band, and no one — not her family or friends — knows about her alter ego). There’s also lots of action and suspense, as this “ragtag, untrained band of teens have no choice but to rise together and prove to the world that sometimes the difference between a ‘hero’ and ‘misfit’ is just in the name,” states a press release obtained by Babble.
“We should all see ourselves in the stories we love,” notes Sana Amanat, VP, Content & Character Development and Co-Executive Producer of Marvel Rising. “And finding powerful heroes that one can relate to is not specific to a particular gender (or race [or] religion for that matter).”
To Amanat, being a hero is about “finding your unique power and being a force for good;” and I can’t agree more.
“For too long, we’ve told stories of girls needing to be rescued or needing to fulfill a certain standard of beauty,” she tells Babble, “but at Marvel we tell stories of powered beings who create their own rules and who happen to be female. Female super heroes have always been here, and Marvel Rising is a celebration of those heroes and the fans who love them!”
YESSSS. As a girl mom trying to raise an empowered daughter, I am SO here for this.
The female leads at the center of Marvel Rising eventually form a team who work together for a common good, which ultimately sends the message that girls are a stronger force if they work together and support one another. It also allows young girls who are watching the ability to find themselves in any of these characters, all of whom have unique physical and personality traits.
“We have so many young heroes in the Marvel Universe, but these characters in particular are ones that are beloved by fans and so unique in their own right,” Amanat says. “Not only does everyone look different, but each character has a different personality and sensibility. They play off each other in such distinct ways as well. There’s no one mold to a hero, like there is no one mold to a person. That’s what makes the Marvel Universe so special and so relatable.”
It certainly is.
Ghost Spider is blonde. Ms. Marvel is black. America Chavez is Latina and gay. Squirrel Girl doesn’t have the traditional tiny-waist, ample-chest body type that girls are constantly bombarded with. And, each character has different strengths and different powers, showing girls that anyone can be brave and be a hero.
Amanat says that the show intends to show girls that “they need to find what their unique power is, and that it’s not going to look like someone else’s.”
(The life lessons here are clearly endless.)
“They shouldn’t try to measure themselves against other standards,” Amanat adds. “They have to find their own way and that is when they will be the most powerful.”
Amen to that.
Thank you, Marvel, for once again showing all of my kids (my boys and my daughter) what female superheroes look like. They can be any skin color, any nationality, any sexual orientation, and any body type. All that matters is that they find their own strength and use it for good.
Tune in to the Disney Channel or Disney XD on September 30, 2018 to watch Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors. Marvel Rising: Initiation is available now on Marvel HQ/YouTube.