top of page

Rise of the Female Superhero

Captain Marvel is the latest depiction of a female superhero jumping from the pages of a comic book and coming to life on the big screen. Superhero movies have been on the rise since 2008 when Iron Man debuted and became the starting point for the subsequent Avenger franchise. Captain Marvel is the first female led superhero movie in the franchise and it’s been said that she will be leading the charge into future films once Avengers: End Game comes to its conclusion.

Female superheroes have been in comics for many years. There have been a few live action portrayals such as Lynda Carter’s iconic Wonder Woman in 1975, but not until recently did they start showing up in movies with such gusto.

As beautifully recognized in the film Unbreakable, superhero movies have an unmistakable quality of folklore to them. These stories are about discovery of one’s own ability and how they can use it for the good of mankind. For a long time these stories seemed to be an all-boys club. The past a battlefield of poorly performing female superhero features littered with the corpses of movies like 1984’s Supergirl, 2004’s Catwoman, and 2005’s Elektra. Now we see things on the upswing. 

It represents a sign of the times. More than ever, audiences are embracing the strong female archetype because…let’s face it…women are strong. We are capable of taking on challenges head-on without always needing to be the sidekick, the girlfriend, or the damsel in distress. Here are some of the women who broke the mold and led the charge into battle themselves:


2017’s Wonder Woman destroyed the stereotype that a female-led superhero movie could not be a success. Directed by Patty Jenkins, who also happened to be the first woman entrusted to navigate such a blockbuster, Wonder Woman went on to shatter box office records, win over fans, and finally give one of the biggest names in comic book lore, Wonder Woman, a place in cinematic history. Actress Gal Gadot not only brought all the strength and intensity befitting an Amazon princes but she also gave Diana Prince layers with vulnerability and even a touch of humor. The combination turned out one of the best superhero films ever made…male or female.


Carol Danvers has never been given the same attention as Wonder Woman or Supergirl but her comic book history is profound. Played by Academy Award Winner Bri Larson, the film isn’t your traditional origin story but instead uses throw backs inside the continuing story arc which keeps the film moving. Larson’s take is a more reserved version of ass-kicker. As her past unwinds and she realizes her true potential she embraces it as any good soldier would.


Black Widow was introduced in Iron Man 2 and has been a major part of the Avengers franchise ever since. With trouble in her past, or as she says “red in my ledger” Natasha Romanoff is almost an anti-hero of sorts. Having been trained as an assassin gives her an edge that begs the question of how far she’ll push the proverbial envelope to attain her goal.


In the film Ant-Man, Hope van Dyne isn’t yet indoctrinated into her superhero role. Instead, Evangeline Lily remains steadfast in the typical girlfriend role. But the sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, not only shows Lily getting the chance to literally spread her wings and fly but veteran actress (and still my favorite version of Catwoman!) Michelle Pfeifer also slips on the WASP costume to battle the bad guys in this fun romp.

My point is there are many different ways to showcase a female superhero, or even just a female hero. But these archetypes carry just as many similarities as they do distinctions. It’s up to their creator to decide which parts of their personalities will be more developed than others. A sense of honor, moral codes, survival instincts, love of another, these are all things that appear in these superhero films and many more. Are they any different than what the male superheroes face? Not really. The world of the superhero is vast…there’s room for both genders to get in on the action.

I recognized this ongoing trend and focused my new series on a fresh take of the traditional superhero mold. Karma (Book 1 in the Silke Butters Superhero Series) blends the over-the-top punch of popular comic book stories with the literary nuance of an urban fantasy novel.


Opting to embrace diversity with my characters, I peppered my 5-part series with different cultures, including the introduction of the first Indian-American female superhero in a novel. 

The culmination of Silke Butters, and her alter ego Karma, came together organically from a number of sources, My own love of the superhero genre swayed the books in that direction, but I knew I wanted a strong female lead like the heroes I grew up with, It wasn’t until I saw actress Priyanka Chopra on ABC television’s Quantico that I knew I wanted Silke to have Indian heritage. That choice was further solidified after I attended a panel at San Diego Comic Con about the rise of the Indian superhero. That’s when I knew I made the right choice.

Being of Italian-Finnish ancestry I know how important heritage can be. I treaded lightly on the cultural aspect of the character of Silke simply out of respect for it. But at the same time, I also think it’s important to have certain aspects recognized, for any character of diverse backgrounds, to make them more authentic. First and foremost, the story is about a woman’s journey through life, the struggles of International fame, and then heaping superpowers on top of that and it makes for a fun ride.

About KARMA, Book 1 in the Silke Butters Series. NOW IN PRINT!

26-year-old Silke Butters is the face of the fashion world. Her Indian heritage and long, silky black hair have made her an international icon. Silke is also one of the most powerful superheroes in the world…only she doesn’t know it yet. When her father, Sgt. Duke Butters, dies suddenly, the block he’s had on Silke’s powers breaks causing them to come to the surface out of Silke’s control. Through the help of Joe Riggs, her father’s second in command and Silke’s former crush, she discovers that there are other superhumans like her in the world including Joe himself. As Silke’s powers begin to grow she finds herself caught in the middle of a tug-of-war between both a subdivision of the U.S. government known as Shadow Company, and a ruthless terrorist organization called The Sin Squad. Both entities want the “enhanced” for their respective teams with Silke as the main prize. To disguise her famous face, Silke invents an alter ego. Karma is born of necessity to decide the fate of those who are ill-intentioned and empower others with hope. Alongside Joe, and her computer hacker friend Maki, Silke develops a heroes call-to-action to battle the dark force that threatens to annihilate humanity…The Sin Squad. A genre-blending send-up, Karma will delight superhero fans and fantasy readers alike. 

About Author Cynthia Vespia:

Cynthia Vespia "The Original Cyn" writes speculative fiction that encompasses fantasy, the paranormal, and magic realism. Her novels are emotionally engaging, leaving hearts pounding and pages turning. She has been nominated for a "Best in Series" award for her fantasy trilogy Demon Hunter. She has also turned her creative energy into Original Cyn Creative Services, an award-winning copy, design, and video source for the development of promotional content. Her creative work has won awards for "Most Artistic Trailer" Demon Hunter 2: Seek & Destroy; "Best Video" Bloodlines; "Honorable Mention" for Anti-Bullying Campaign, and a nomination for "Best Cover Design" Demon Huntress: Destiny Unleashed. 

Cynthia is available for freelance work, conventions, and workshops. 


Available online through or

To arrange a book signing or interview, contact Cynthia Vespia at 




"Original Cyn" Cynthia Vespia writes fantasy novels with edge. This blog is dedicated to all things fantasy and my author journey.


bottom of page