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How Doctor Who could change the way women are portrayed in sci-fi

The Doctor’s greatest power? Her sense of humor.

Doctor Who’s season 11 premiere will mark the first time in the show’s 55-year history that the Doctor character will be played by a woman, Jodie Whittaker. This move adds Doctor Who to an influx of sci-fi and fantasy franchises that have already put women at the helm. But this new woman Doctor is expected to have a trait that many of those other heroines don’t have: a sense of humor.

In film and television, the scarcity of women superheroes is stark. In 2014, the last time good data was available, only 14 percent of mainstream sci-fi films had women protagonists. And that makes the new Doctor’s role even more impactful. Whittaker’s Doctor is not only expected to be a great, witty hero traveling through space like her male predecessors, but she could also push the boundaries of what a woman hero can be.

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