While Marvel is inarguably the major leader in superhero films right now, they could stand to take note of DC and Warner Bros.’ latest initiative. The comic book publisher is joining forces with the movie studio to launch DC Superhero Girls, a new directive aimed at young women that will include TV shows, action figures, apparel, books and more. It’s a great new multimedia project that sets a strong precedent that other publishers and studios will follow, if they’re smart.

Just yesterday, we reported on Disney’s dire lack of Black Widow in their new, official Avengers: Age of Ultron merchandise*, which was a huge disappointment, to say the least. But over at the official DC comics website, the competing company has taken note of the lack of female-centric superhero merchandise, and they’ve revealed an amazing new plan to correct that problem.

DC Superhero Girls will feature “relatable” teenage versions of both superheroes and villains alike, like Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and many more. The new series, which includes publishing, TV shows and straight-to-video content, will follow the girls as they come into and begin to understand their powers, and learn what it means to truly be a hero.

Utilizing both heroes and villains for their new series, DC is showing young women that there isn’t just one type of “strong female character,” a narrow concept that discourages real gender equality — women can be flawed, we can be aspirational, and we can be good or evil, just like our male counterparts.

The new series is targeted at girls aged six to 12, combating the idea that superheroes belong to the boys. It also offers a great gateway for young girls and women to get into the world of superheroes and comic books, and show them that it’s okay to like these things. It’s an inclusive plan, and one that’s been sorely needed. DC Superhero Girls will not only offer multimedia content, but toys, clothes and games for its target audience. When was the last time you saw a female superhero action figure at the toy store? Typically, these action figures are made by manufacturers that cater to adult collectors, while little girls struggle to find their gender represented in the superhero toy aisle.

DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson had this to offer in an official statement:

DC Entertainment is home to the most iconic and well-known Super Heroes including Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl. 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.

The “just for girls” part raises a question mark — we have a lot of gender-exclusive toys and merchandise already, which is kind of a problem, and while DC has good intentions in creating content and merchandise for girls, they should also be setting a precedent that superhero content is for everyone. Still, this is a step in the right direction, and I am so excited to see what these companies have in store when DC Superhero Girls launches this fall.
*Note: you can order Black Widow action figures and merchandise from other companies, but Disney’s official merchandise includes very little of the character.