Heels, cosplay & feminism: Women ruled Philly Comic Con

The Pennsylvania Convention Center this weekend was packed with more than just typical Batmans and Robins – it was a sea of Sailor Moons and Black Widows as well.

The 15thAnnual Wizard World Comic Con didn’t just include women, but embraced them with a diverse perspective on dialogue and visual representation.

“The power of women coming together is quite extraordinary…whether here or on television, we are making strides,” said famed actress and celebrity guest speaker Hayley Atwell during a talk at Comic Con, star of “Agent Carter,” a new TV series that is a spin-off from the Captain America movies.

This week has been a major breakthrough for women in the superhero universe.

ABCannounced May 7that they are giving Marvel’s Agent Cartera second season on network television. In an enterprise that has been dominated by men, it’s unprecedented to produce a successful superhero series that is helmed by a female lead (Atwell).

Countless young girls showed off their own interpretation of Agent Carter’s signature red hat and classic heels at Wizard World this weekend.

Cosplaying – the popular hobby of visually and socially reenacting comic and pop culture characters – is a staple at Comic Cons across the world.

For those who put extreme effort, creativity, and attention to detail to their costume or performance can more-often-than-not expect a level of celebrity pandemonium at the event.

Such was the experience for Klaudia Amenabar and her cosplay partner and friend, Carly Meyer, both 20. Both of them are Penn undergraduates who were taking a break from finals to experience their second and first Comic Con, respectively.

Cell phone cameras and press photographers stopped them numerous times to take selfies and close ups of the pair.

They cosplayed a hybrid cross-comic reference of Sailor Moon & Thor (Meyer) and Sailor Moon & Loki (Amenabar).

“It’s great to see more women here today representing actual female superheroes than just spin-offs of the male ones,” Amenabar said of the more feminine cosplay expressions at the convention.

Culturally, cosplay at Comic Cons is limiting for women looking for a unique way to represent female superheroes due to the small representation of them on-screen and in comic books.

As a result, Marvel and DC has often received criticism from many fans for being sexist in an era that might see the nation’s first-ever female president.

But Atwell, who works directly with Marvel on her role as Agent Peggy Carter on the hit ABC series, sees strong signs of a turnaround.

“Marvel casted me the lead in a female-centric show and allowed me to have a say as an unknown artist — I have no criticism on their ability to open doors,” she said.

“There needs to be more women in the room writing these roles,” Meyer said. “Many of these characters and costumes don’t show the various representations of a woman’s versatility…Sailor Moon is one of the few who embody a lot of what many of Marvel’s female characters lack.”

But despite the current mainstream challenges, this weekend’s Comic Con ensured that women’s increasing involvement within it will be a long-lasting step in the right direction.

For Amenabar, her hopes are more distinct than that.

“Overall, I just want society to get to a point where female superheroes are accepted without hesitation—like no more of seeing them as just ‘a hero who so happens to be a girl’— but just heroic, plain and simple.”

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