Who run the world? Wonder Woman wins schoolyard popularity contest

Article by Broede Carmody /
The Sydney Morning Herald /
September 26, 2018  /
Click here to view original /

Move over, Batman. There’s a new favourite superhero in town.

Wonder Woman’s popularity has overtaken that of her male colleagues for the first time, according to new data. Roy Morgan Research has found Australian schoolchildren are now more likely to nominate Gal Gadot as their favourite superhero over the likes of Batman and Spider-Man.

Raking in $300 million, Wonder Woman breaks the record for the biggest opening weekend for a female-directed film.

An estimated 368,000 children aged between the ages of six and 13 now say the lasso-wielding Amazonian is their favourite DC or Marvel character. Her fanbase has more than doubled in the past two years off the back of the 2017 film directed by Patty Jenkins.

In comparison, Batman’s popularity has dropped in recent years. Gotham’s caped crusader is running second in the popularity stakes, followed by Spider-Man and then Superman.

Interestingly, Australian schoolchildren were more likely to select The Flash as their favourite superhero over Iron Man and Captain America, despite the latter two having standalone films. The Flash does, however, have a TV series that has been running since 2014.

Wonder Woman’s meteoric rise comes off the back of a stunning box office coup, with the 2017 film grossing more than $24 million in local ticket sales. Its successful release has helped pave the way for a string of additional movies starring female leads.

Captain Marvel, featuring Brie Larson, is due to hit cinemas early next year. Warner Bros, meanwhile, is reportedly turning its back on further Superman films starring Henry Cavill and instead focusing on its 2019 Wonder Woman sequel and possibly even a standalone Harley Quinn film with Australia’s Margot Robbie.

University of Melbourne senior lecturer Dr Lauren Rosewarne, who researches gender and pop culture, said a whole generation of kids are now growing up with women leading their favourite blockbuster films.

“This normalises the idea that a woman can be both an action star and a box office drawcard,” she said. “Wonder Woman is not a film without flaw. It still relies on femininity and sex appeal to get an audience. But [it shows] that strength and power are human qualities rather than ones exclusively associated with men, the message that superhero films historically delivered.”

Dr Rosewarne said the box office figures speak for themselves.

“The film was enormously successful, which meant that a lot of people were ready to embrace the idea of a female superhero.”