An issue that is ruminating on some blogs – including the most excellent DC Women Kick Ass – is the issue of the lack of female characters in the Young Justice pilot.
DC Women Kick Ass cites the undeniable evidence that:
- The heroes were all male
- Wonder Woman and Black Canary appear at the end with no lines.
- Just one of the villains is female (in fact she is the only female who is on screen for a more than a split second besides Miss Martian.)
- Miss Martian is introduced at the end and the “boys” are told she is joining the team. The proceed to peacock in front of her positioning her not as a peer but as potential romantic interest.
When compared with Justice League Unlimited the series looks even worse. Justice League featured two very strong female characters in Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl and even when Hawkgirl was written out there were other characters like Huntress, Black Canary, and Supergirl who pitched in. They even used their pilot to do an origin story for Wonder Woman. The same applies to the Teen Titans cartoon which had two strong female characters in a team of only five characters in total.
One thing that may count in Young Justice‘s defence is that it quite closely matches the origins of both the Teen Titans and Young Justice, both of which started without female characters. The Teen Titans started with a team-up between Robin (Dick), Aqualad, and Kid Flash — exactly the line up in the YJ cartoon. The comic book Young Justice started with the friendship between Impulse, Robin (Tim). It was only later that both groups integrated their respective Wonder Girls.
The issue here certainly isn’t that Young Justice won’t include female characters. The very first hint we got of this show was when one of the female voice artists accidentally blogged about her casting. There are two female characters on the early poster (Miss Martian and Artemis) and they’ve hinted that Wonder Girl and Zatanna may appear.
The issue is that those characters were not used in this opening story. Artemis, at least, looks like Green Arrow’s replacement for Roy Harper who stamps out in the first part of “Independence Day”. So there is a logic to excluding her until later. There is also a story telling logic to keeping the number of characters limited to start with. The first part concentrates on the three from the original Teen Titans roster, the second part introduces the fourth character (Superboy). The natural progression is then that the third part focuses on the next new character (to wit: Miss Martian).
What looked really bad was just parachuting Miss Martian in at the end of this episode. The absence of a girl in an otherwise enjoyable cartoon could have been overlooked if they hadn’t made such a big display of showing off the character they could have used.