Though female superheroes like Wonder Woman have been appearing in comic books since the 1940s, these heroines have not always been given fair treatment on the screen. Aside from the 1970s television series Wonder Woman, no major motion pictures or television series of significance have come along featuring the girls of DC Comics until much more recently. In the last few years, DC has branched out with its properties and introduced an array of TV shows and animated specials featuring a robust selection of characters.
From Supergirl to Stargirl, there are a number of powerful women appearing on TV these days. Look over some of these popular heroines you can catch on the small screen and learn more about who they are and what they stand for.
Though she is almost as recognizable as the Man of Steel himself, Supergirl is a character with a very complicated history in comic books. Originally introduced in 1958 as a surviving cousin of Superman, Supergirl very quickly became a fan favorite. The character appeared in her own titles as well as the family of Superman comics until 1985 when editors at DC decided Superman needed to be the only survivor of his homeworld of Krypton.
In the episode Crisis on Infinite Earths, the original Supergirl died saving the universe.
Comic books are notorious for bringing back dead characters and Supergirl is no exception. Returning in multiple incarnations over the years, Supergirl has been more or less restored to her original role as the cousin of Superman. On the WB show “Supergirl,” Melissa Benoist portrays the title character as she tries to balance work, relationships and being a hero alongside living in the shadow of her famous cousin Clark. The show is currently entering its sixth season and is a great fit for teens, older audiences and families alike.
More recently, DC released the show Stargirl, focusing on the trials and tribulations of teenager Courtney Whitmore. Introduced in comics in 1999, Whitmore as Stargirl was co-created by Geoff Johns, who is now the executive producer of Stargirl. Since her introduction, Stargirl has been a prominent character across DC comic books, animated specials and television shows. She has also served as a member of the long-running superhero team the Justice Society of America, and the show borrows a lot from this part of Whitmore’s history.
Unlike Supergirl, who is in her 20’s, Stargirl is a teenager still dealing with the headaches of high school on top of her newfound role as a hero. Played by Brec Bassinger, Courtney Whitmore is an all-American girl with a sweet demeanor and passionate desire to help the weak, downtrodden, and vulnerable. Stargirl follows Whitmore as she comes to terms with the responsibility of being a hero while beginning the quest of finding other young people willing to help her reform the Justice Society of America.
While both Supergirl and Stargirl began as heroines in the pages of comic books, the same is not true of all the women who appear in DC’s television properties. The character of White Canary, played by Caity Lotz, was created specifically for the show Arrow, where she shares a number of story elements and personality traits with the comic character “Black Canary.” A fighter trained by assassins, White Canary became a popular character on Arrow. This led to her being one of several DC characters written into the show Legends of Tomorrow, involving time travel adventures.
DC Comics is no stranger to the idea of female characters. Outside of the heroes listed here, names like Lois Lane, Catwoman, Batgirl, Zatanna, Power Girl, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are familiar even to those who have never read a comic book. With DC committed to making truly engaging television programs in recent years, it is easy to see that this is just the beginning of television adventures featuring a diverse selection of unforgettable heroes.