Sunday, May 08, 2005

Pondering of a Super Magnitude

So, I should have been asleep a few hours ago, and there are some heavy thoughts on my brain, but my pondering for this evening's blog post is much lighter than the other issues with which I'm wrestling. My question for you folks is this: when was the last time a screen female superhero was done well? This pondering is the fault of Derek, and also the fault of the Batman t-shirt I bought today. (I plan to wear it under whatever dress clothes I wear to my defense. That'll help me from being intimidated, because I'll feel too triumphant, and too much like I have a secret identity, allow intimidation to creep in.) I need some suggestions from the audience, because here are the realisations I had while driving today (but keep in mind that I'm only addressing recent representations, and that I haven't even seen all the movies I discuss):

The past few years have been really horrifying for crime fighting films starring women. Like, so bad that I fear two things: first, that these films will discourage others from having women play lead superhero; or that other such terrible films will continue to be made. Catwoman and Elektra, seem to (based on my readings about them -- I haven't bothered with either, but maybe someday I should watch them, to see for myself) embrace some theory that a woman can only fight crime if she is fitted out in lingerie and has nothing compelling or believeable about her to cause an audience to support her. The heroine is reduced to a sassy object.

Secondary characters have been better, and my only nominees for good recent heroines comes from that category, although it is still hit-and-miss. There's still the potential for female superheros to be reduced to one-dimensional objects, such as Storm, and very probably Jessica Alba's Invisible Woman (this last point is not my own -- it is one of Derek's most recent rants). (I would very much like the Fantastic Four to prove Derek's gloomy predictions wrong. I've been so excited, and I love Ioan Gruffudd.) (I also must note that, upon reviewing my nominees for worst female superhero of the decade, I am apparently not a Halle Berry fan.)

In spite of Storm (who isn't so much dislikable as much as she's forgettable except for the fact she has cool powers), the X-Men movies also have Anna Paquin as Rogue, and I love her. Her character is developed so well, and is possibly the most believable of the films. It also helps, for my analysis, that she manages to be awesome without having to show a lot of skin. And then there's Famke Janssen as Jean Grey, who has a lot of potential in her transformation into Phoenix.

But, interestingly, my top submission for best female superhero is a cartoon: Elastigirl from The Incredibles. Unlike the X-Men filmic women, who seem to need rescuing a little too often, she very much kicks butt. Between her and Violet, the women in that movie have by far the coolest powers. She has a complex and believable character, and a believable body shape as well. Have I mentioned how much I want to be Elastigirl? I really do. I would love to be able to stretch like that, although my laziness would increase a hundredfold. (I would mostly use said powers for reaching into the kitchen and grabbing a snack, while I'm sitting on the couch.)

Can you think of anyone else? Because, outside of The Incredibles (have I mentioned my love of Brad Bird?), the range of female superheros in recent films is fairly bleak. (On that note, would it help if we had a return of Wonder Woman?) Why is the female superhero becoming like that ridiculous claim that there are no funny women? What should we do, what does this all mean, and what is your opinion on this?

I need to re-watch the Adam West Batman. I love Julie Newmar's Catwoman, and my favourite was when Yvonne Craig was Batgirl (I bought a Batgirl Barbie, thanks to my love of Craig's Batgirl, and her purple motorcycle).

Now I really, really, really must sleep. Goodnight, blog people. Excuse my meanderings tonight. It's the sleepy talking; I think I lost track of my point half-way through here.


arimich <> said...

Hey Mary! I don't know much about female superheroes (although Elastigirl was pretty cool), but I do know that you should check the comments on my blog and let me know what you think. And that I like you. You are definitely superhero material.

Jen said...

Elastigirl was awesome.

Anonymous said...

As a hero, Elastigirl's superpowers rate highly cool; but as a person, I wanted to punch her in the neck. I found her an insecure nag. But maybe I'm just grouchy.

Life of Turner said...

Never mind female superheroes, just try to think of strong female characters in recent memory in general. Even the ones who are "strong" (ie. Million Dollar Baby) still have men in power positions over them. Thelma and Louise? Puh-leese. It's a problem that extends beyond the superhero universe in Hollywood. Of course, Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman was pretty cool as far as supervillains go. And the more I see F4 trailers, the angrier I get. Grrr.

Derek out.

Queen of West Procrastination said...

I love it when Derek gets feminist. It's my favourite.