Featuring iconic characters such as Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl, DC Super Hero Girls presents an ultra-modern and empowering take on the high school experience through the lens of its young female superheroes. The animated series, developed by Lauren Faust and produced by Warner Bros. Animation for Cartoon Network, is packed with action and comedy, and its stories emphasize the message of girl power. Faust tells TV Kids about crafting a show that resonates with girls but is also inclusive of boys.
TV KIDS: Give us the pitch for DC Super Hero Girls. What’s at the core of the series?
FAUST: It’s a show about balancing your super life with your teenage life and finding the metaphors of the teenager-type coming-of-age stories and how they might look for a superhero. A lot of shows about teenage superheroes go with the typical superhero story—who’s the bad guy, what are they doing wrong, what do you need to save the day—and then look at how a teenager would do it. This show is a bit the opposite; we start with, what’s a story typical of teenagers, life lessons and coming-of-age stories, and then put a super spin on that.
TV KIDS: How did the series come about?
FAUST: In 2012, I produced and directed a series for Cartoon Network’s DC Nation block called Super Best Friends Forever, which featured Batgirl, Supergirl and Wonder Girl. Those shorts performed pretty well, and we tried to develop it as a TV show, but couldn’t quite find any footing for it at that time. DC went on to make a show called DC Super Hero Girls. It came swinging back at me several years later that they were interested in a reboot of DC Super Hero Girls and wanted to go back to the tone, humor and characterizations that I had set up in Super Best Friends Forever.
TV KIDS: How did you approach this as a ground-up reboot?
FAUST: The first version of DC Super Hero Girls was about teenage characters going to a high school to learn how to be superheroes. They didn’t have secret identities, and even the characters we know as villains—like Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn—were good guys. I felt like that was taking some of the fun out of what we all love about superheroes. So, for this version, one thing I wanted to bring back was the idea of secret identities. The girls have a regular teenage life, they go to a regular school, and they are superheroes at night when they need to fight crimes. And they really do fight crimes!
TV KIDS: How do you balance the show being empowering for girls but also appealing to boys?
FAUST: What resonates with girls is the relatability. We worked really hard to make these characters have something about them that a girl can see in themselves. When I worked on The Powerpuff Girls, we had an even greater boy audience than girl audience because we had fighting. So, in this show, our teenage superheroes have teenage villains that they fight as well. And we do not hold back! The action and having real stakes when it comes to the fights and hero situations that they’re in draws boys in a way similar to Powerpuff Girls.
We also have boys in the show. There is a boy team, the Invinci-Bros, who all have teenage reflections.
Along with the action and relatable characters, we have humor. It invites boys in and makes them comfortable watching a “girls’ show.”