Robot 6

Gender bender: Where are the male versions of female heroes?

Casting an eye over the expanse of superhero comics, you’ll find yourself looking at a number of heroes so popular that they’ve spawned spin-off characters that are either younger, pluckier or, more often than not, of the opposite sex. From DC’s Supergirl (tied to Superman) to Marvel’s Ms. Marvel (connected to Captain Marvel), this has been a trend going on longer than most of us have been around. But in this world of male heroes sharing their costume designs with women, I’ve always wondered why there isn’t much going the opposite way: heroes who base their costumes and names on heroines.

One of the key reasons is that by sheer number there are far more popular male superhero characters than female characters. By my unscientific estimation, the only female superheroes the general public could name would be Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Invisible Woman, Catwoman, Jean Grey and Storm. Compare that to the male heroes most people know, and you’ll get the picture. But even then, where are the male counterparts to those female heroes I mentioned?

The closest thing we have to that is DC’s Catman, the lone example of an in-continuity character borrowing his style from a female character — Catwoman. There’s also  the rare alternative universe where all genders are switched, such as Earth-11 as seen in Teen Titans Spotlight #11, or other unique circumstances.

I’m not saying DC should bring back Wonder Man (or Captain Wonder) as a counterpart to Wonder Woman in the New 52, but she does have a pair of star-spangled pants she’s not using.

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Comments

17 Comments

Well Hank Pym took of the mantle of the Wasp, does that count?

I hate derivative characters with a passion. There is NO POINT in having a younger or opposite gendered version of a popular hero. They’re narrative clutter that dilute the original hero.

can we have Batboy to counter Batgirl? it’s about the only Batperson they HAVEN’T done, isn’t it?

The only one I can definitively remember is Catwoman’s brother, pre-Crisis. His name was Karl Kyle, and I think he called himself King of the Cats/King of Cats, instead of Catman.

Don’t forget Powerboy from the Powergirl series.

First things first. Those guys look ridiculous. Congrats on the balls it took to do that, but it looks silly.

inb4fangirlssaytheylookcoolorcute

Anyway.

A lot of these characters can’t have knock off versions of themselves (Invisible Woman, Storm, Jean Grey). Those that can, well I don’t see why not. Though thinking on the narrative of Wonder Woman, Wonder Boy/Man would probably just be a pain for Diana to deal with.

Supergirl’s ALREADY a spin-off. Who do you make? Supergirl’s Superboy?

It’s a good point, but you need a good female superhero for this to work. One who’s not known as a member of a team, and one who isn’t already a female version of a male.

Here in San Francisco, there’s a word for this kind of thing. That word “HAWT!!!”

Oh that Power Guy is super hot.

I don’t think Catman borrowed anything from Catwoman. Catman was originally, very clearly, a dark-side version of Batman, not a gender-bending version of Catwoman.

Loving that photo. See, you straight boys think they look stupid while we gays (and some girls) can appreciate that putting men in the sexualised outfits usually reserved for women is a very, very good thing. Power Guy is far to skinny for my tastes but the other two are just beefy enough to count.

Why don’t men ape female heroes? It’s just like Madonna says in What It Feels Like For a Girl – if a girl dresses like a boy she’s powerful, if a boy takes on a female persona it’s considered weak. And the industry is still run by, and the fans are mainly, heterosexual males. If women or gay men ran the joint things would be completely different.

Obviously any female hero who is already second generation isn’t going to be able to spawn a male imitator since the imitator will be linking to the lead male. Wonder Woman would, of course, make the most sense to emulate since she’s without a doubt the most recognisable heroine of all (yes, debate away all you like but it isn’t Storm and never will be). Problem is, she’s from a culture of only women so immediately you can’t have a little boy Amazon decide to take up the fight. Why a younger male follower from elsewhere never caught on I don’t know as it would have been a lot of fun.

Kalorama: In Catman’s original origin, he modeled his costume after Catwoman. DC erased it after CRISIS, but it’s still there.

I do believe that you guys have forgotten about Vance Astrovick the former New Warrior and Avenger known as Marvel Boy then Justice who’s mutant telekinetic powers was nod of the head to Jean Gray the original Marvel Girl

Creating derivative characters of the opposite sex is what writers do when they run out of original ideas.

What about Namor? He was a spin-off character from Namora.

Ever since House of M I’ve thought the writers should just make her Captain Marvel instead of Ms. Marvel. It both gets rid of the clunky Ms. and helps put her in the top tier. Her origins may be complicated, but there is nothing to say that can’t be rectified.

Manatee, are you kidding me? Namor wasn’t a spin-off of Namora. It was the other way around. His character has been around since Timely Comics! He was created in 1939 while Namora was created in 1947. He, Captain America and the original android Human Torch were part of the Invaders fighting the Nazis during WWII.

And Ian, they tried renaming a female character Captain Marvel. Remember Monica Rambeau? She eventually led the Avengers but ended up having to change her name to Photon when Marvel comics decided to have the original Captain Marvel’s son take up the mantel.

DC can’t create a male version of Power Woman because the name Power Man belongs to Marvel and can be claimed by both Luke Cage and Erik Josten. People may become familiar with the Power Man name as I understand Marvel is planning a Luke Cage movie.

Likewise, DC can’t create a male version of Wonder Woman because Marvel also owns the right to the name Wonder Man. Eric Williams has dibs on that name.

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