Feminism 101: Is ‘Wonder Woman’ Being Underpromoted?

Is there a difference in how the Wonder Woman movie is being promoted? And if so, why?
By Avital Norman Nathman  Published on 05/05/2017 at 8:30 AM EDT

Every time a new superhero movie is about to be released, it feels like we are inundated with promotional material for it. Billboards, fast food tie ins, toys, t-shirts, commercials, the works! So why does it feel as if the upcoming Wonder Woman movie has been under the radar? And we’re not the only ones noticing. Although ads have noticeably picked up in the days after the publication of that article, we decided to ask our favorite feminists all about the (perceived or actual) lack of Wonder Woman promotion.

Do you think there’s a difference in the way Wonder Woman is being promoted? If so, why do you think that is?

Amanda Adams:I want my Wonder Woman merch! I want to give WB my dollars! Where’s my merch? I’ve been waiting for this movie since 1979 when I wore my WW Underoos, snow boots, and coiled my yellow jump rope as leaped off the bed. This is just another bad business move by an industry that is entirely out of touch with potential consumers. This is just like when Disney didn’t think people would want Rey figures after the Star Wars reboot. PS — I also want to get my daughter some Supergirl merch from the TV Show. My son has three Flash t-shirts, and I can’t find a goddamn Supergirl anything. WTF? Capitalism is failing itself.”

Veronica I. Arreola:I go to a lot of movies and since the first trailer was out, I have been looking for it in theaters. I got myself way too excited movie after movie. After seeing ‘Hidden Figures’ and not seeing the ‘Wonder Woman’ trailer I asked friends on Facebook. Some had seen it so I thought I was just going to bad theaters. I finally saw it last month before ‘Logan.’ Thankfully someone did the research to prove my assessment that the movie was being woefully under-promoted. Almost three years ago I wrote about how Hollywood is scared of making this movie because of the baggage. It has to be a blockbuster for many reasons, but mostly because it is a woman-led movie with a woman directing it. Yup…that’s still a thing. Men get to fail, women, especially women superheroes do not. Thus the lack of promotion is shocking and expected. I’ve been waiting for this movie since I was a kid in my Underoos watching Lynda Carter beat up Nazis and save Steve…again and again. There is sexism involved in the lack of promotion as well as a bit of complacency since every woman under 50 has been waiting for this film her whole life. But if the movie studio went all out on a meh movie like “Batman v Superman”, then maybe their meh promotion means that “Wonder Woman” will be the best movie DC will ever produce. Either way, I’m going to see it a few times.

Pauline Campos:We don’t have cable and search our movie trailers on YouTube. I am the most unknowing about this as a person with the internet and an iPhone can possibly be.

It doesn’t surprise me, though. Remember #wheresrey? Hollywood hasn’t supported women-centric films on the same level as male-lead films, historically. It’s business, right? They’re gonna toss the cash at the films they know they’ll cash in on; not the movies that, often successful, turn out to be a happy surprise. If ‘Wonder Woman’ is being screwed for ad dollars, we as a society need to stop pointing fingers and start supporting films like ‘Wonder Woman’ in droves.

We make the difference and set the bar for how women-centric movies are advertised. If that bar is low enough to walk over, we have to share part of that blame. Until we do, the status quo remains as it is.”

Avital Norman Nathman:As a comic book fan, a woman, and a mother of a superhero-obsessed son, I eagerly look forward to the release of pretty much every superhero-related movie. To be honest, I’m really surprised there hasn’t been more promotion regarding ‘Wonder Woman’ because I think it’s safe to say that the DC comics movies have had a harder time wooing audiences in general, so you’d think the producers would do their best to market their films better. And, based on the limited trailers I have seen, the stand alone Wonder Woman movie looks way better than Batman Vs. Superman, so why wouldn’t they want to highlight it? I think it’s a mistake on their part and the studio risks alienating a big chunk of their audience. But, I guess this wouldn’t be the first time folks in power have underestimated women…”

Shannon Drury:How is it possible that we’re only a month out from the opening of the Wonder Woman movie? I can’t remember the last time I made a Target run without being pushed a product featuring Lego Batman, or worse–that annoying raccoon from ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.’ Right now is when I should be able to look in specially marked packages of Honey Nut Cheerios for the chance to win a Lasso of Truth!  

Look, we know how all of this works. The men who run Hollywood still believe that men are the default setting for humanity. The assumption is that women will go to films starring (even exclusively cast with) men, but men won’t return the favor. This is especially true for that most manly of genres, the superhero flick. I might not be the best person to weigh in on this debate, as I find current comic book films noisy and utterly devoid of the camp that twinkled in the eye of TV legend Lynda Carter. But while I may not be the target market for this movie, I have an eleven-year-old daughter who is. Why can’t she see Gal Gadot’s face on a can of Dr. Pepper? 

I see this through the lens of merchandising because in our fragmented media landscape, merchandising is more the message than ever.  I tell my daughter that she is important and visible and impactful, but she is looking closely at the Target toy aisles. She was thrilled that ‘The Force Awakens’ starred a young woman, but it took a tidal wave of feminist backlash to get Rey action figures and costumes in stores. Right now, cartoon images of Wonder Woman are the norm; Gadot’s fierce feminist made flesh might be a little too much for a nation that just rejected its smartest, most qualified presidential candidate in decades because she was female. I guess it’s up to us to buy those opening day tickets and start a hashtag calling for #Gadoritos.”

Sarah Fader, CEO of Stigma Fighters:I have not heard of this film and I’m surprised because I am very active on social media and my kids watch TV. I would think that I would be made aware of this film. It speaks to the internal misogyny in our society that this film is being under-promoted. That might sound hyperbolic, but I believe it’s accurate.

Girl superheroes are necessary and important. I am a big ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ fan, and I have had both my kids (ages 9 and 6 — boy and girl) watch Buffy. I want them to be aware that women are strong and powerful. We need more of this integrated into our society in order to combat the inherent hatred for women that we have as a society. Women are powerful beyond the expectations of society. And we need to teach our children that women can be and are superheroes.”

Mayim Bialik:I don’t really know if the core superhero audience is ready for an entire woman-based franchise. I just don’t. Do I want it? Absolutely. But it’s a little bit like women’s sports; they don’t catch on the same way for a lot of reasons. I think what’s important is to realize that there IS an audience for this movie, and I am part of it. It may take some time for a larger audience to warm up to this, but we also can’t force it. Marketing people tend to do their research pretty good. Much as I want to blame them for not pushing this movie enough, I think it’s safe to say that there are going to be a lot of men and boys who aren’t as motivated to watch a woman battle and fight and soar about as they would be to watch a man. Maybe it’s a “Hero’s Journey” thing and they can’t picture themselves embodying attributes of a woman…maybe it’s misogyny (probably!). But ultimately, the reality is it’s complicated and the reality is I can’t wait to see it!

Have a question for our ragtag group of raging feminists? Send it to Avital Norman Nathman at and it might just be answered in a future Feminism 101!

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