DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Bros. Consumer Products are joining forces with Mattel to launch “DC Super Hero Girls,” a new multiplatform superhero universe aimed at female fans aged 6-12, a typically underserved demographic when it comes to comicbook properties.
The new line, debuting in the fall, will feature DC Comics’ “most powerful and diverse” female superheroes and villains during their formative years — prior to discovering their full superpowered potential. Notable characters include Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Bumble Bee, Poison Ivy and Katana. According to DC, “Each character has her own storyline that explores what teen life is like as a superhero, including discovering her unique abilities, nurturing her remarkable powers and mastering the fundamentals of being a hero.”
The multiplatform universe will include an “immersive digital experience,” original digital content and digital publishing, with TV specials, made-for-videos, toys, apparel, books and other product categories scheduled to roll out in 2016.
“DC Entertainment is home to the most iconic and well-known superheroes including Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl,” said Diane Nelson, president of DC Entertainment. “DC Super Hero Girls represents the embodiment of our long-term strategy to harness the power of our diverse female characters. I am so pleased that we are able to offer relatable and strong role models in a unique way, just for girls.”
“Developing a superhero franchise exclusively for girls that includes all of the key components of a comprehensive entertainment experience — from content to consumer products — is something we are excited to be doing in conjunction with our great partners,” said Brad Globe, president of Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “It’s really an honor to be part of this cultural moment and to be delivering a concept so rooted in a relatable and empowered theme that the characters of DC Comics are uniquely able to present.”
Mattel will serve as master toy licensee and collaborate with DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Bros. Consumer Products on the franchise’s narrative creation, interactive digital activations and a toy line launching in 2016. DC notes that Mattel’s product lineup includes “a line of characters for the action figure category — an area of the industry that has been primarily developed with boys in mind — and fashion dolls featuring strong, athletic bodies that stand on their own in heroic poses.”
“Partnering with the best and being the best partner is of paramount importance,” said Richard Dickson, Mattel president and chief operating officer. “Together with Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment, the DC Super Hero Girls franchise will further expand our already powerful girls portfolio. We know superhero is a culturally relevant theme, and the DC Super Hero Girls franchise will engage and inspire girls, providing cues to explore heroic acts through play and into real life.”
Random House Books for Young Readers has been named the master publishing partner for the DC Super Hero Girls universe, with a portfolio of books scheduled to launch in spring 2016, while Lego will design a number of building sets for the DC Super Hero Girls line.
The announcement comes amid a concerted push for more diverse and inclusive comicbook properties, especially those led by female characters, with Warner Bros. and DC prepping a standalone “Wonder Woman” movie with Patty Jenkins attached to direct, following the exit of Michelle MacLaren. CBS has greenlit a “Supergirl” series from Greg Berlanti and Ali Adler, which hails from Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television. In March the CW debuted “iZombie,” based on the comic from DC’s Vertigo imprint, starring Rose McIver as a coroner’s assistant who is turned into a zombie and subsequently helps the police solve crimes.
Fellow comics publisher Marvel has dated “Captain Marvel” — the first female-led film from Marvel Studios — for November 2, 2018. The movie is being written by Nicole Perlman (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) and Meg LeFauve (Pixar’s “Inside Out”). ABC recently aired “Marvel’s Agent Carter,” starring Hayley Atwell, and Netflix is developing “Marvel’s A.K.A. Jessica Jones” as part of its interconnected franchise of “street-level” superhero shows that will culminate in a crossover miniseries called “The Defenders.”
There’s still room for improvement when it comes to the representation of women in major superhero franchises — this week, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” stars Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner caused controversy online after making sexist remarks about Scarlett Johansson’s character during the film’s press tour, with both issuing apologies soon after.