Posts Tagged ‘Wonder Woman’

So its been awhile. I know. 

The new job is awesome, but I have been putting in some long days .Actually, I am typing this up on my lunch break. THAT’S how crazy its been.  I will be better I promise! 

But here’s the real reason that I wanted to talk to you today.  There is this little article that @EllieSullie (and, unbeknownst to be until after the fact) @JulianGrant threw up on their Facebook feeds.

It pissed me off to no end folks.

I will be nice and link you to said article which you can read here.  The gist of the article is this, that the “strong female characters” we have been seeing in films lately are really just… to use the author, Tasha Robinson’s own words “Superfluous, Flimsy Character disguised as a Strong Female Character”.

She lists example after example of this: 

-Valka in How to Train Your Dragon 2

-Wildfyre in The Lego Movie

-Tauriel in THe Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

-Dahl in Riddick

-Carol Marcus in Star Trek: Into Darkness

and more and more.  Here’s where I get ticked off:

The idea of the Strong Female Character—someone with her own identity, agenda, and story purpose—has thoroughly pervaded the conversation about what’s wrong with the way women are often perceived and portrayed today, incomics {sic}, videogames, and film especially.” 

This is an annoyance right here. The entire article focuses on films. If you are going to mention comics and video games, then guess what, you need to give examples of those too, which Ms. Robinson does not. (This is Speech 101 kicking in). However, I would like to bluntly express, in my post, I will NOT be talking about video games because I am not a gamer.

However, I am a TV/Movie/Comic Geek and Gender theory in mass media is one of my favorite subjects.

The other thing, she only gives one- yes ONE- good example, which is….. Emily Blunt’s character, Rita in the recently released Edge of Tomorrow. That’s it. One example of a positive (by her standards) strong female character.

I do agree with Ms. Robinson that there are a number of “wanna-be” SFC in mass media, but to give only one positive example is ridiculous. I ranted on @elliesullie’s post on this, and I realized there are a ton of SFC in film, television and in comics. So to balance out the negative article, here is a list (not completely comprehensive, because that would take probably 8 years to read) of strong female characters, through and through.

According to Ms. Robinson, to be a “legit” strong female character needs to do the following:

  1. After being introduced, do something that is “fundamentally significant to the outcome of the plot”. 
  2. If she is contributing to the plot, is it something other than getting hurt to motivated the hero? (I.e. what I always called the “damsel in distress” role).
  3. If the character could be replaced with a note on an inanimate object, then she is not useful to the plot.
  4. She cannot be the strongest/fastest/meanest etc until the male protagonist shows up who is stronger/meaner etc
  5. If she never needed to be rescued before, does she get rescued in this story to make the male hero look good?  (For comic fans- think of the old Fantastic Four or X-men comic books where all of a sudden Sue Storm got a nose bleed in the beginning of a fight or Jean Grey wandered off to fix her make up). 

So with that five qualifiers in mind, I would like to present to you some of the most kick ass “Strong Female Characters” in TV, Film and Comics.

(Some with explanations, but a complete list will be added and continued to update as time goes on). 

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  • Glenn Close as Monica Rawling, Season 4 of The Shield

A former professor of mine, PG, can attest how much I love this character. I wrote a paper (it was suppose to be only 10 pages, I wrote close to 20) for my final grade for his class on Monica Rawling. 

Why is she so kick ass?  Well she is one of the first characters I ever saw that DID NOT fall into one of the major categories (whore/saint/damsel in distress). She was all of them. Coming from a cop family, I am VERY picky about my police shows but Ms. Close just made my jaw drop on the first line she has. Throughout the season she plays a tough as nails police captain (which right there, being a female captain is hard enough), dealt with unpopular politics of a controversial asset forfeiture program she spearheaded and even went out with the Strike Team to kick ass and take names. She didn’t see herself above anyone else, and even though she was a captain, didn’t have an office. She planted herself right in the thick of everything (defiantly-lead from the front, not behind a desk).

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  • Black Widow (both in comics and portrayed by Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man 2, The Avengers and Captain America: Winter Solider

Ill be the first to admit that I have a girl crush on Black Widow. She has always been one of my favorite characters ever since I started reading the Daredevilcomic book. She is THE spy. She is NEVER the victim. I mean really, to be part of the KGB red room training is not something anyone could go through. Did Natasha ever go “woe is me, I was made into a KGB spy against my will?” No. She rolled with it and then turn coat and started working with America. So now, you have a KGB agent, who’s now an American agent? Hell’s yes. And if anyone questions her, she pretty much kills them. 

Now, with the film adaptation, I was slightly disgusted because in Iron Man 2, she was handled more like a trophy wife until the last 5 minutes of the film. Now in Avengers, Wheadon actually gave the character some depth, and then in Winter Solider, she actually seemed more….human… then in Iron Man 2.

@EllieSully pointed out that alot of the aforementioned article that makes me upset does force feed some ideas down kids throats (in regards to The Lego Movie) and that there wasn’t really much out there for kids.

I beg to differ.

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-Merida in Brave

I mean come on. She stands up to EVERYONE going “yeah, no I am not following tradition to be married off so we can get some land”, she is an early tomboy, “yes, I much rather play in the woods and shoot things with my bow and arrow”.  She realizes her mistake and does everything in her power to fix it, unlike the delayed realization with her mother.

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-Torunn in Next Avengers

I love… LOVE… Torunn. This Marvel animated movie (set in an alternate universe), is a story about the sons (and daughter) of the Avengers. The parents were killed by Ultron and they are being raised by none other than Mr. Bachelor himself, Tony Stark. 

Torunn is the daughter of Thor and is upset because she thinks her dad either left her and/or is dead. Understandable why she is upset.  She is very much into her heritage. So much so she goes to the opposite extreme to be Asgardian as possible- even trying to put words like “Verily” into her every day speech. She goes through the true hero’s path (stubbornness, fighting, loosing something she thinks is important, realizing that it isn’t important, saving the day— wow, sound like her father much??) Her journey is practically a mirror image to the Thor film. At the end of the day- even though she could return to Asgard and be with her family, she decides to stay on Earth and take care of her little “brothers”. 

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Agents Simmons and  May in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

There are various reasons why these two should go on the list. Simmons is smart as a whip, May is a tactical genius. Simmons creates all types of gadgets etc and geeks out reading scientific studies. May, well she is nicknamed (much to her dismay) “The Calvary” for a reason. These two, both being on the same show, display vastly different aspects  of a “strong female character”- both brains and brawn. Do they need to be rescued sometimes? Yeah that happens to even some of the male heroes on the show, so you cannot count it against them.

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Katey Sagal as Gemma Teller in Sons of Anarchy

There is a specific reason that I used the image above with that quote. I will agree with some people that the way Gemma handles things is not exactly ethical, but its coming from a good place. If they need to put a picture with the phrase “Mama Bear” then it has to be of Gemma/Katey. For those who haven’t seen the show, Gemma has been a victim of rape and also of domestic abuse. I am only using the word “victim” here to classify the plot. She was NOT a victim by any stretch of the imagination. She picked herself up, brushed herself off and in the moved on (to do some devious planning to retaliate against the people that hurt her, but you get the idea). 

Other Strong Female Characters: (listed)

  • Agent Carter (Captain America: The First Avenger and the upcoming Agent Carter miniseries on ABC)
  • Agent Scully (X-Files TV show and movies)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (both television and comic books)
  • Captain Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager
  • Hermonie Granger in the Harry Potter Series (Both books and films)
  • Pepper Potts in the Iron Man films
  • Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games (both books and movies) 
  • Wonder Woman (Comics and the ever loved Lynda Carter TV Series)
  • Xena the Warrior Princess (TV)

Please feel free to comment and throw your two sense in here folks. The bigger this list gets the better! Support your reasoning and I will update this post (asap) with your reason on the list! 

I am quite tired of people looking at me funny when I tell them I am an avid comic book reader. Some cases they are surprised and thinkDr. Fredric Wertham “You are a chick, you shouldn’t like comic books”. However, most of the time, it’s because- despite recent films and tv shows-comic books still get a bad reputation.

Why is that? Well thank you Dr. Fredric Wertham.

Who’s that?

Well, here’s a little history for you: Back in the early 1950’s Dr. Wertham printed a book called “Seduction of the Innocent“. Before this book came out, comics like “Superman” or “Captain America” would each sell a million copies a month. Comics were the coolest thing since sliced bread back then. Heck- they were even part of rations for soldiers back in World War One and World War Two.

Like that cover isn't going to make parents wonder...

Like that cover isn’t going to make parents wonder…

Then this book came out. I know recently you must have heard that “Oh, its violent video games that make kids shoot each other. Or Marilyn Manson. Or Eminem” *eyeroll* I hear this way too much being in Chicago. But it is not true. It’s just regurgitated bad thinking and bad “expertise” back from Wertham.

If you can find a copy of “Seduction..” (which is rare) read it. If you are a comic book fan, you will laugh your butt off.  But for those who have never read it (or can’t find it) I will boil the book down for you ( I have read it).  Wertham’s argument for the rise of juvenile delinquency back in the late 1940’s/ early 1950’s was because of….. comic books. There is an argument in his book that little boys that read ” Batman” will become homosexual.

I kid you not. I really wish i was joking about this. In his book, and later on in his testimony, if you look at the examples that he gives of how comic books ruin children, its twisted to his argument. His “examples” are parts of panels blown up- like (for a current example) a panel of Spider-man swinging through Manhattan that is is normal as could be- Well Wertham would have taken just the crotch shot of the picture and blown it up.

If you read the book, the “research” that Dr. Wertham did was questionable at the least. All the kids he had in his study grew up in Harlem. One neighborhood of a major city in the country. He did not do test groups all over the country- just the kids that came into his clinic in Harlem, New York.

Right there, that should have been questioned. But I digress- the one thing all these kids had in common besides being troublemakers was that they read comic books. So of course Dr. Wertham made the correlation if you are a bad kid that beats others up, it has to be from the comic books you are reading!  But… there were over a million copies of a single title sold in a month. It would have been easier to find kids who didn’t read comic books!

Can I make a side note- did anyone who lived during this time think that the reason there was a rise of juvenile delinquency was because of a number of broken families post two world wars? Or the fact that there was a HUGE shift in ideology (not once, but twice) when it comes to gender roles?

But back to Wertham. Magazines (primarily ones like Good Housekeeping) latched onto Wertham and did interviews and so forth where he

With his four children by the two different woman pictured.

William Moulton Marston With his four children by the two different woman pictured.

got to further go off on his soapbox about how “Wonder Woman” makes girls to be submissive in the bedroom. This tells you the lack of credibility of Wertham. If you actually do some research on the creator of “Wonder Woman”, William Moulton Marston, you would know that he he was in a *very* interesting family structure. He lived with his wife and their children… and his “girlfriend” submissive and their children.He is also the creator of the lie detector. On the first draft of this post, a friend didn’t see how this is related to Wertham. Well a) Writers write what they know and b) if you actually look at the early issues of WW, if anything it taught girls to NOT be submissive, but more dominate.

Wertham’s interviews and book led to such an outcry from frustrated mothers that it led to comic book burnings and also a Congressional Hearing in 1954.  Wertham brought the industry to its knees and nearly severed the head. If you really want to get the full scope of how damaging this hearing was, you can read the transcripts from each day here .

However, in my humble opinion this hearing was completely a waste of time. I am not saying this as a comic book fan, I am saying this because, from a legal perspective it was.  Look at this snippet of Wertham’s opening testimony:

My testimony will be in four parts. First, what is in comic books? How can one classify them clinically? Secondly, are there any bad effects of comic books.  I may say here on this subject there is practically no controversy. Anybody who has studied them and seen them knows that some of them have bad effects. The third problem is how farreaching are these bad effects? There is a good deal of controversy about that.  A fourth part is: Is there any remedy? And being merely a doctor, about that I shall say only a few words.”

Even someone with a basic sense of law from watching shows like Law and Order would have thrown an objection in there for speculation.

If you think that is bad.. read this next part:

“Delinquencies against property; delinquency associated with violence; offenses connected with sex, and then miscellaneous, consisting of fire setting, drug addiction, and childhood prostitution. I may say the latter is a very hushed-up subject. I am not referring to what young girls do with young boys, but I am referring to 10-, 11-, 12-, 13-year-old girls prostituting themselves to adults.”

Really. Really? I mean, this is the biggest form of speculation… just reading this makes me sick. The previous sentence should be the textbook example of speculation. However, Wertham does, for the lack of a better word, redeem himself a bit.

” Now, nobody versed in any of this type of clinical research would claim that comic books alone are the cause of juvenile delinquency. It is my opinion, without any reasonable doubt, and without any reservation, that comic books are an important contributing factor in many cases of juvenile delinquency.”

Wait, so no in front of Congress Wertham begins to backpedal on the ” research was a sober, painstaking, laborious clinical study, and in some cases, since it has been going on now for 7 years, ” 

I could spend a few good days continuing to nitpick his testimony to the Congressional hearing, but that may only interest the lawyer types.

But like most things, the industry evolved. It got past the romance books, the capes, the horror and has become what it is today- even with a burst in the 1990’s that almost collapsed the industry a second time (due to economic issues).

So when you hear the argument that it’s Grand Theft Auto to blame for a kid shooting someone, no its not. Remember Wertham. Do you want someone like him to manipulate not only pop culture but science to prove something inaccurate?

So one of my dearest friends Scourge (not real name..duh) texted me a link over the weekend.

I was so furious reading the article that I actually slept on it before I dared say anything over here.

Mydearpeabody wrote a very…interesting Op-ed piece which you can read here. Based off an interview with The New Republic and Writer/Producer Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, Wanted) which you can read here.

While I agree with alot of the sentiment and points expressed in Mydearpeabody’s blog post, i don’t want to sit here and re-hash a lot of negativity.

When Scourge saw me later on and asked my two cents about the article I told him this: “I love comics, but it feels like the industry as a whole doesn’t know what to do with us fanchicks. It’s almost like grade school- the boys that like me pull my ponytail and throw stuff at me”.

There have been a number of great female writers and artists over the years, but the industry is still a boy’s club. Yes. yes, I know that the head of the DCU entertainment side is a woman, and you have people like Gail Simone, Ann Nocenti et al who are just brilliant woman in general.

There are problems everywhere in the industry- publishers, Local Comic Book Shops (LCS) and even at conventions.

Back in 2003/2004 I was invited to do a lecture at my college’s Gender Conference (1 of 3 students to do so!) My lecture actually covered the comic book industry and the portrayal of woman in it… and guess what? All the characters I used were created by… men.

So, instead of criticizing more, let us celebrate some great female characters that really need to have their day in the spotlight outside of comic books.

Let me get the most “obvious” character out of the way first. Wonder Woman.

  • Wonder Woman

She’s been around for what seems like forever. Yes I know she had a tv show- yay Lynda Carter- but it was camp (much like the Adam West/Burt Ward Batman TV Show) . Then there was the horribly failed pilot that had stills circulating around the net last fall. Yes, WW became a symbol of Woman Power every where- but why is Warner Brothers/DC Entertainment not using her correctly?

If anyone over at DCU happens to read this: I beg you, on behalf of readers everywhere, please give Diana her due- spend the money on her and give her a feature film with good casting, VFX that is actually believable and cast Lynda Carter as Hippolyta. Wonder Woman is part of the “holy trinity” of DC (with Batman and Superman)- you have spent billions of dollars over the years to make film after film of these two… spend a little on Diana.

Wonder Woman by Alex Ross

I can tell you that doing a Smallville like TV Show with Diana would not do her any justice. This is a character that is legendary… a demi god… tied to both the Greek and Roman Pantheon of Gods.  She isn’t a “Tricky” character Chief Entertainment Ms. Nelson (as you said here in your interview with THR)

Ms. Nelson with all due respect: “She doesn’t have the single, clear, compelling story that everyone knows and recognizes”. Does that matter at this point? The latter half of Gen Y and younger have no clue about the Lynda Carter run.  Warner Brothers *loves* telling (and re-telling) origin stories in their films- you need to start with the Origin story and then go there.

No one knew Thor outside of the random Norse mythology- but look how much that made at the box office!

  • Terry Moore’s “Strangers in Paradise” 

This really needs to be made into a TV show.  The “elevator pitch” (thank you Wikipedia) ” The story primarily concerns the difficult relationship between two women, Helen Francine Peters (known simply as Francine) and Katina Marie (“Katchoo”) Choovanski, and their friend David Qin. Francine considers Katchoo her best friend; Katchoo is in love with Francine. David is in love with Katchoo (a relationship which Katchoo herself is deeply confused about).”

SIP Cast

One of the reasons I loved this book is that a) not only is it a huge female cast but b) it deals with best friends and c) it deals with issues of sexuality in a great manner and d) THEY LOOK LIKE NORMAL WOMAN.

Can’t stress that part enough. I was tired of seeing female characters with huge breasts and itty bitty waists. Barbie dolls on crack.  That’s not a good role model for ANYONE.

Plus the book is very funny and quirky. Go read. Now.

  • David Mack’s “Kabuki”

How does one explain Kabuki? The pitch (again from Wikipedia) “Set in an alternate near-future Japan, the protagonist of the story, a young woman codenamed “Kabuki”, acts as an agent and television law-enforcement personality for a clandestine government body known as “The Noh”.”

That in no way shape or form can actually explain David’s work on this book. Yes, there is that plotline (and learning about Kabuki’s history, lots of awesome violence that actually is needed- not forced/shoehorned into the book) but a majority of the book is very….philosophical.

Those who hear not the music think the dancers mad.– Kabuki: Metamorphosis #4

Your environment reflects your internal disposition. — Kabuki: Metamorphosis #6

I have been a fan of David’s for years- ever since I read “Daredevil: Echo Parts of a hole” (see next bit). Once I got my hands on Kabuki, I almost literally had a brain meltdown.  The art work… this should be hanging in fine art galleries, not a comic book!

Kabuki: Metamorphosis #9

I do apologize if that picture looks a bit large- but I wanted to show the detail in Mack’s work.

  • The woman of “Daredevil” 

As you can tell by my handle name (@murdocksgirl), I am a *huge* Daredevil fan.  One of the many reasons is that Matt Murdock’s social/love life is quite interesting.

Karen Page/Daredevil- “Guardian Devil” Daredevil Vol. 2 art by Joe Quesada

a) Karen Page- Out of all the woman in Matt’s life, she is probably the “weakest”.  She becomes a druggie, sells Matt’s secret Identity for a fix, leaves him (multiple times) however…. when push came to shove, she really stepped in and took one. (Spoiler Alert: She takes a billy club to the heart sent by Bullseye).

b) Echo- Wow oh wow, another reason why I love David Mack.  A deaf girl (half Native American, Half Latina) who loses her family and has the ability to mimic anything she watches. So she loses her dad and since she is mute- was labeled as “special needs” until someone realized that she is really the exact opposite.  Unlike a lot of the woman in Murdock/Daredevil’s life- she is one of the few that doesn’t get killed/go crazy. She left Matt to go “Find herself” on a Vision Quest and eventually works with the Avengers for awhile.

Echo by David MackNative

c) Black Widow- Yes I know she was in Iron Man 2 and in Avengers.  As a diehard “hornhead” I am slightly ticked off that she was introduced into the mainstream media in Iron Man 2 and the fact that she was very weak in the film- I mean she is totally Nick Fury’s lapdog  (which does coincide with the books- a tiny bit), but she was nowhere near as kick butt as I would have liked her to be.  A special Thank You has to go out to Joss Whedon for actually giving her some sort of background in Avengers.                                                             (Now can we please see what in god’s name happened in

Black Widow by Alex Maleev

Budapest with her and Hawkeye??). However she still feels… off then what I know from the comic books.  She first appeared in Tales of Suspense #52 and then made her way over to Daredevil (for a long time on the book it was “Daredevil and Black Widow” instead of “Daredevil: The Man Without Fear”) . Her and Daredevil where partners in more than just one sense of the word. She is the other woman, besides Echo, to not go off the deep end or get killed.

d) Millia Donovan- Created by Brian Michael Bendis- Millia was Matt’s wife (yes he did get married!!). Millia was slightly stronger of a character than Karen Page, but she also was a “civilian”. While Karen understood why Matt wore the costume and did what he did, Millia had a tendency to worry a bit too much. Grant it, she is blind, and nearly suffered the same fate as Karen Page, but unfortunately for Matt Millia can’t emotionally/mentally deal with Matt’s costume life- in part because of the costume and everything that comes with it.

Millia Donovan by Alex Maleev

e) Elektra- saved the most well known one for last. Yes. I know Fox made a movie with her in the lead. I have heard people say over the years that the reason why this movie didn’t perform well at the box office is because that people don’t want to go to a movie with a female superhero in the lead. I call bullshit on that. The reason why this film (and in, my humble opinion, Catwoman also) didn’t do well is because- frankly I don’t know what movie I watched, but it wasn’t Elektra. A chunk of that film is actually part of Daredevil’s origin story.  Don’t believe me? Take a look at the credit list- Frank Miller (who created her back in the day) received credit for comic book characters and Mark Steve Johnson (who wrote and directed the Daredevil film) received credit for motion picture characters…. um. really?

Elektra By David Mack

I am hoping that Fox gets it right (or the rights revert back soon to Marvel). However, Elektra in the comics is a different story all together. My favorite story line is “Scorpio Key” (again- another Brian Michael Bendis story line)- in that books, after dealing with a billion things, she visits her own grave stone. How strong of a character is she if she can go to her own grave and KNOW that her body is six feet under but she is still standing there (thanks to some mythical/ninja stuff)???

Last but certainly not least:

  • Deena in “Powers”

Oh I was lucky one day and didn’t realize that on my commute home from the day job that I actually saw the actress playing Deena in the FX pilot of the show when they were shooting here in Chicago.  FX- let me just say, if you can get that actress back for reshoots, please do. She was EXACTLY how I pictured Deena in real-life!

Keep in mind, I come from a security/police/military family so I am a stickler when it comes to police procedural type of shows/books.

Hands down, Powers is the ONE COP BOOK I love.  The whole premise is that its about Homicide cops investigating the deaths of superheros/villains.  Deena starts off as a lowly rookie cop who purposefully transferred into the “Powers” Division.  If you get rid of the super hero element, by itself it would be a great police-noir book. In part because of Mike Oeming’s artwork.

Deena? Wow.. just wow. Here you have a woman who is totally stuck in the boy’s club of 1st response (because, sad to say, as far as we have come as a society 1st responders/military are still damn boys clubs).  Instead of taking shit from the other guys and say, sucking it up and going home, she dishes it right back.  Deena, unlike other female cops I have seen depicted over the years, doesn’t do anything under handed to get ahead of the boys.  She just does her job and does it damn well.

It also doesn’t hurt that she swears pretty much like me. 🙂  The below image pretty much sums up how awesomely relatable Deena is.

Deena in Powers: Bureau Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Art by Michael Oeming

What about you readers? Any comments/concerns/ideas/suggestions?

Respond below!