The first person to use the title “Hawkgirl” was Shiera Saunders, who was Carter Hall’s (Hawkman) girlfriend. Another Hawkgirl (Silver Age) is named Shayera Hol, and she also teams up with Hawkman, and later joins the Justice League. It was this Hawkgirl who changed her name to Hawkwoman (perhaps because she wanted to be considered an adult). Later, a new Hawkwoman named Sharon Parker emerged, and after that, the new Hawkgirl was Kendra Saunders (a distant relative of the original Hawkgirl). As you can see, the chronology of the female superheroes bearing the Hawk symbolism is more confusing than many other heroes, so for simplicity’s sake, we’ll focus mostly on Shayera Hol/Shiera Hall.
Carter Hall met Shiera and the two donned their Hawk-identities to fight villains. There are variations to these two heroes’ origins, but the most common is that they were originally Egyptian lovers, Prince Khufu and Princess Chay-Ara, and have been reincarnated many times throughout the generations. This version of Hawkgirl received powers from her Thanagarian Nth metal belt. She usually uses a mace as her primary weapon, and has inorganic hawk-like wings.
Shayera Hol was an officer from Thanagar and wife of Katar Hol (Hawkman. This Hawkgirl comes to Earth with Hawkman to prevent an invasion. Later, the two are admitted as members of the Justice League, and Shayera changes her name to Hawkwoman. When DC decided to merge the histories of Earth-One and Earth-Two, the characters of Hawkman and Hawkgirl/Hawkwoman from their respective worlds are also merged.
The two most recent depictions of Hawkgirl in non-comic media have been in the Justice League animated series, and briefly in the show Smallville. It is the Thanagarian Shayera Hall who holds the title in Justice League. Her Thanagarian roots are alluded to throughout the series, and in the final episodes of season two, we see a Thanagarian military officer (Hro Talak) who is representative of Hawkman. In Smallville, Hawkman (Carter Hall) references his bride Chay-Ara (or Shayera) several times, and how they have spent many lifetimes together. Unfortunately, the closest we get to seeing Hawkgirl is in a vision, and her helmet and mace on her coffin.
There have not been any suggestions for turning Hawkgirl into a movie franchise, but as DC moves away from focusing solely on its two main heroes with the release of the Green Lantern movie this year, there may be some hope for Hawkgirl fans. Right now the only Hawkgirl costume available is for kids, but be sure to check out Hawkgirl in action in Justice League.