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DC Comics' new project praises real 11-year-old 'super girl'

"She may not be the hero that they deserve," said the girl's father, "but she's the hero they need."
/ Source: TODAY

Rowan Trilling-Hansen may not have been the impetus for the fall launch of the DC Super Hero Girls line, but there's a reason the comic-book giant behind Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman mentioned the 11-year-old girl by name Wednesday.

DC Super Hero Girls
DC Entertainment, Warner Bros., and Mattel have collaborated to launch DC Super Hero Girls, a multiplatform initiative intended to "build character and confidence, and [empower] girls to discover their true potential."DC Entertainment

In a press release posted that day to DC Comics' blog, DC Entertainment announced it's joining forces Warner Bros., and Mattel to create digital content, TV specials, the toy company's "first action figures for girls," apparel, books, Lego sets, and other material geared toward female fans ages 6 to 12.

Hours after the press release appeared online, DC Comics' Twitter account made a point to reference Rowan, an Illinois fifth-grader who expressed gender-related concerns to DC in a handwritten letter that went viral after her father posted it online in January.

"I love your comics," Rowan wrote at the time, "but I would love them a lot more if there were more girls."

In addition to requesting action figures of Hawkgirl, Catwoman and other female DC characters, she asked DC for better efforts when it comes to green-lighting projects on television and the silver screen.

"There are Superman and Batman movies, but not a Wonder Woman one," she wrote. (Although Wonder Woman is expected to appear in next year's "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice," no finalized plans for a movie of her own have been announced.)

Courtesy of the Hansen family

"Please do something about this," she concluded. "Girls read comics, too, and they care."

Public response to Rowan's letter was so significant that DC Comics addressed her concerns on Twitter, and later sent her a sketch of her in a superhero costume to express solidarity.

DC Comics made a comic of Rowan herself.
DC Comics made a comic of Rowan herself.DC Comics

Reached by phone Thursday, Rowan told she hadn't seen DC's latest tweet to her, but did receive an email from the company, which alerted her to the news.

"I thought it was really, really cool," she added. "I'm just hoping it will all get bigger and bigger."

When contacted DC Entertainment for comment, a spokesperson deferred to the contents of the press release, and the company tweet that references Rowan.

The press release describes DC Super Hero Girls as an "exciting new universe of Super Heroic storytelling that helps build character and confidence, and empowers girls to discover their true potential." The initiative plans to highlight a "powerful and diverse line-up of female characters as relatable teens," including Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Bumble Bee, Poison Ivy and Katana.

Rowan's parents, Renée Trilling and Jim Hansen, are English professors at the University of Illinois. They told that they are proud of Rowan, but are a bit more measured with regard to DC's announcement.

Renée Trilling says she's proud of her daughter not only for speaking up, but also for inspiring many others to do the same.
Renée Trilling says she's proud of her daughter not only for speaking up, but also for inspiring many others to do the same.Courtesy of the Hansen family

"I think it's interesting that they chose to launch a separate line of toys and merchandise and story products aimed just to girls, rather than incorporating girls into an already-existing product market," Trilling said. "But I have confidence that there are ways that they'll be able to integrate those product lines, [especially] if there's a way to integrate boys' and girls' interests."

Hansen agreed.

Rowan Hansen's letter to DC Comics got a boost when her father, Jim, posted it online.
Rowan Hansen's letter to DC Comics got a boost when her father, Jim, posted it online.Courtesy of the Hansen family

"I am a little concerned that now, [DC] might be going in the direction that Legos went: In the '70s, they were marketed to everyone, and then suddenly, [it was], 'Look, there are pink Legos!'" the father said. "On the other hand, I feel like it's wholly encouraging that they're recognizing that they have such a large female readership, and that they want those female readers to find the inspiration in the comics that the boys are finding — and have been finding for the past 50 years or so."

He added that the latest news "has empowered Rowan to feel like her voice matters," and adapted a quote from the Batman movie "The Dark Knight" to compare his daughter to DC: "She may not be the hero that they deserve, but she's the hero they need."

Courtesy of the Hansen family

Rowan remains optimistic.

"I'm just glad it's happening," she said. "DC is definitely going in the right direction."

Follow writer Chris Serico on Twitter.