I like female characters in comics. Probably because I like female characters in life. There are plenty of males trotting, flying, and strutting around to keep the reader happy. Bring on the ladies.
I think Invisible Woman is the strongest member of the Fantastic Four. She keeps the kids grounded, her distant husband focused on what is really important, and her two teammates from killing each other. I think the ability to keep a team from getting at each other’s throats for over fifty years is pretty remarkable.
I think some of the most interesting parts of Superman are the ones that he spends with Lois Lane. Even back in the forties, this gal was no shrinking yes-woman. She was raised on military bases, has been to warzones, and yet still manages to have a kind side to her. Some fans have complained that the recent Superwoman comic suggested it would give Lois her own book again (she had one before, but even then she had Superman’s name over hers). Personally, I like her as she is. Would I support a book that was just her? Sure. But over in Action Comics you can see her be the strong reporter that she has always been. In Superman you can see her as Clark’s anchor, the domestic champion, and the great mother to her son. This is a woman who gets herself into trouble, not expecting Superman to save her. They had a bump in their relationship when she thought he was hovering too much. She can take care of herself. More than many supporting females, Lois is not simply some foil to be rescued.
And Barbara Gordon? Please. She has the background of a police officer. She has the research skills of a librarian. No two ways about it, she is one of the smartest people in the DC Universe. Why else would Nightwing, the most desirable bachelor in all of DC, keep coming back to her? Sure she makes a quality crime-fighter in her Batgirl glory. Yet I like her better as Oracle. Her research skills were so legendary that heroes would go around looking for her information. One of my favorite short stories is Showcase ’94 #12. In it, we see how capable a woman in a wheelchair can be. Babs may have been inspired by Batman. Yet she certainly does not linger under his shadow as much as some think.
So yeah. I like the heroines. Especially on screen. A scene I delighted in from the penultimate episode of Supergirl this season had Teri Hatcher (formerly Lois Lane), Melissa Benoist (currently Supergirl, and Linda Carter (formerly Wonder Woman), all in one scene together. And then they had to muck it up by having Calista Flockhart save the day. Sigh. Really? All those famous women and we depend on Ally McBeal? Oh well, at least an amusing little television blurb came from it.
Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange; they are all, more or less, the same movie. Come on folks, a little variety please.
Enter Wonder Woman. Now, I am not a strong fan of Wonder Woman. I have one t-shirt with her one it, and that is a group shot of the Justice League. I do not understand her methodology. She fights for peace? She is a warrior who bring about love by killing people? Much more so than Superman or Batman, Wonder Woman is a warrior. A killer. She has a sharp sword and she uses it. She is no blood-thirsty Punisher. She has more in common with Captain America. Both had movies and origins based around world wars. Both are soldiers, willing to sacrifice a bit of themselves if it means the conflict will end sooner.
Oddly enough, it is the DC movie set during World War I that is the most light-hearted. The last two Superman flicks? Bleh. Filled me with dread. Grey tones, brooding heroes, all is dark. Even with the grey setting of a country ravaged by war, Wonder Woman offered more hope. It showcased what a beacon of hope she was. Mock the costume if you like. She and her bright colors really stood out against the dismal setting.
Wonder Woman was not our typical superhero fanfare. I maintain that it is a war story that happens to feature a super-fight towards the end. It owes more to Saving Private Ryan than it does to The Avengers. It takes a person from an outside setting, who happens to be female, and shows them trying to make sense of the things we do to each other during war. I do not know if she ever really comes to terms with all the madness we inflict upon each other. For a blockbuster film, that is a pretty admirable storyline to chase after.
As to the female-only screenings of Wonder Woman? Guys getting upset that such gender-exclusion is biased? Y’know what? It probably was sexist. In this instance, maybe that was okay. A group of females want to celebrate a female standing strong in the world of men. And they want to take a break from men while doing that. If they started a whole civilization, moved to an island, called it Themyscira, then I might get my feelings a little hurt. Going to a movie that some of these women have waited all their lives for? I can live with that. Comic shops and movie crowds have been male-dominated for long enough. Let the ladies have their fun. If it means the women can feel empowered while watching a quality movie (as opposed to, say, Catwoman), I can wait for the next screening.
I mean, the worst case scenario is that a well-made movie will stay in theaters longer, make more money, and encourage folks to make more movies that are high-quality and not male-centered. What a tragedy that would be.