ST. PETERSBURG — The reviews are in.

"Wonder Woman" is set to be a box office smash. The movie is already critically acclaimed. Top critics on Rotten Tomatoes loved it.

This is part of an emerging theme in pop culture - empowered, strong, women front and center on screen.

This is why it’s so important for girls and boys, women and men, alike to see strong women on screen.

“So, I have two signs of women (tattooed on my arms). And though they're not the stars like Wonder Woman's bracelets and cuffs, I got the tattoos because I am so inspired by Wonder Woman,” said USF cultural studies scholar, Dr. Aisha Durham.

To her, Wonder Woman is more than a superhero. She is a symbol.

“She can save herself. She's not your average damsel in distress. She's not just a kind of sidekick to the male counterpart,” Durham said.

How important is it for young girls and women and young boys and men to see powerful women on the screen?

“When we actually see that it's possible on screen, maybe we can actually imagine it's possible in the real world,” Durham said. “And what Wonder Woman does is actually show a woman, and a powerful woman, who can save herself and save others, and I think that it's important not just for children, but it's also important for adults to see women in leadership positions. So if we were able to see that on the screen, maybe we would be able to replicate that in real life.”

But think of the gender pay gap, access to healthcare for women, and more?

“It seems to be that we just prefer our strong women in fictional worlds, and we may be uncomfortable in real life,” Durham said.

Women superheroes like Wonder Woman are changing fast.

Daryll Blaker with Emerald City Comics in Clearwater went through half a dozen new female characters.
“This is the new female Thor, Jean Grey, we can talk about Princess Leia, we can talk about Michonne from Walking Dead. There's a lot,” he said

In the comics, Batwoman is an out lesbian character. Faith is a new superheroine who is not supermodel thin.

“Just because you don't fit the ‘form’ or the ‘model’ of what people think you should be doesn't stop you from being everything that you can be,” Blaker said as he held the new Faith title. “I think it's such an important voice right now.

"Wonder Woman is a voice in particular to say, yeah, you can. You have powers. What's stopping you? You can do things that nobody else can.”

"Wonder Woman," Durham says.,"I would say she’s my 'she-ro.'”