Women are showing up more frequently as support in cartoons, but where are our leading ladies?
Disney is prepping a new Spider-Man cartoon to replace the outgoing Ultimate Spider-Man. We don’t know much about the show, but early promotional material included shots of Spider-Gwen and the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man. Now we can add one-more arachnid-themed here to the group: Anya Corazon a.k.a. Spider-Girl.
The evidence that she is on the show comes via a new Spider-Man poster that Trends International is offering to wholesalers. The clever monkeys at Comic Vine noticed that the character designs seemed close to the upcoming cartoon, and a bit of detailing on the costumes (the blue sole on Peter’s boot and the red one on Miles) was only found on the upcoming cartoon. So this appears to be a promo poster for the series.
Honestly, I’m happy she and Gwen are there. After years of shows with no female presence at all or a solitary token woman, having two on the team makes it at least theoretically possible that the cartoon could pass the Bechdel Test. But as happy as I am about their inclusion, I think it is time we tell the executives at Disney, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network that women need to move out of the supporting cast and into lead roles.
Looking over the cartoons being produced today, I can only think of two that feature female leads, Star vs. the Forces of Evil and the reboot of The Powerpuff Girls (which is an abomination in the eyes of the Lord -Ed.) Every time a new Spider-Man franchise is launched we get a new Spider-Man cartoon tie-in. When Guardians of the Galaxy came out, we immediately got a Guardians cartoon on Disney XD. Wonder Woman is almost here, has anyone heard a peep about a Wonder Woman cartoon.
I have a theory. It’s complicated, so see if you can follow it: Since roughly half of the population is female, roughly half of the animation our kids consume should be told from a female character’s point of view. We are so far from that that we get excited when a cartoon has two supporting female characters instead of one. When you look at it that way, it’s a bit sad.
While we certainly applaud every step towards equality that the industry takes, we can never allow ourselves to settle for the bits and pieces that we are given. Wake me when there is a Captain Marvel and the Avengers cartoon, or when the adventures of Kamala Khan are finally adapted in cartoon format.
Until we get half, thank you very much for increasing the number of female supporting characters — but we want more.