Friday, February 22, 2019

About The Umbrella Academy and the difference between superhero teams of the 1960s and 1970s

I like The Umbrella Academy more than most superhero TV shows, but the lineup feels oddly like something from the 1970s: only two of the seven team members are women. (In the 1960s, superhero teams with five or more characters had one woman, in the 1970s, they had two.) Making things even more traditional, the women in the Umbrella Academy don't have physical powers like strength or athleticism. I could point out more examples of benign sexism in the first season, but I don't want to give any spoilers.

And the old school approach is only a quibble. All the actors are very good, and there are ways the writers can do better by the women in the next season, so I'll plan to catch it.

Four stars out of five.

PS. Wondering if I was right about when superhero teams started having (shock!) *two* female members, I googled. It looks like the Justice League added a second woman in 1969 when Black Canary joined, the Teen Titans added a second girl in 1970 when Lilith joined, and the Avengers added a second woman in 1973 when Black Widow joined. Now, for the most hardcore fanboys out there, I will note that the Black Widow was the third female member of the team, but the Scarlet Witch did not join until the Wasp quit, so the 1960s status quo of one chick per team was not broken until the Black Widow became a member.


  1. Speaking of hardcore fans...

    Legion of Super-Heroes.
    Up until May 1961 they only had one female member (Saturn Girl), but in Action Comics #276 they gained four female members, bringing their numbers up to 10 males and 5 females. They pretty much managed keep that 2:1 male:female ratio in overall membership for the rest of the 1960s and '70s. Not all the members appeared regularly, but most of the ones who showed up only sporadically were male, so in practice, the ratio in any given issue was usually better.

    But then the Legion was always about the future.

    1. OMG! How could I have forgotten about the Legion? I loved them so much.

      They are more evidence that when Marvel and DC were first competing, DC did better by women and Marvel did better by black guys.