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What's with the name?

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Essay

On Female Villains, or the Lack Thereof


*Contains minor spoilers of Star Trek Into Darkness*

Unlike our own Zoe Chevat and Jill Pantozzi, I was actually very happy with Star Trek Into Darkness overall. Having been a Trekkie for as long as I can remember, I understand that it doesn’t have the philosophical weight of some past Trek stories, as well as the contention that it heavily recycles old characters and plot points. But personally I look at the “Abramsverse” as a complete remake, and my view of the new films is that they’re made differently but extremely well.

That’s not to say that I don’t agree with the gender issues-related criticisms of the film. The now-infamous Carol Marcus undressed scene was, to be sure, gratuitous, offensive and completely inexcusable. I was equally disappointed by the scene of a Starfleet Command roundtable which shows a 20-person group that’s between 70-75 percent male. But where equality appears even farther away, in Hollywood as a whole, is among another realm of film characters: villains.

Allow me to use the two J.J. Abrams Star Trek films as examples. There are no female members of the U.S.S. Vengeance crew. There were no female members of Nero’s crew in the 2009 film. Although it’s hard to tell for certain since most were wearing masks, it didn’t look like there were any female Klingons in Into Darkness‘ Kronos scene.

(To be tangentially honest it was the aforementioned Starfleet Command scene that stuck with me most of the movie. Given that most of the Enterprise crewmembers the series focuses on are male, this would have been an easy opportunity to counteract that at least briefly, and to make a simple statement on the future of gender equality in power positions. Obviously, the filmmakers completely blew it.

But at least they realized they couldn’t have no women in the scene whatsoever. Compositions of scenes like this illustrate that we’re not close to equality yet, but the situation is better than it would have been a decade or two ago. For example, check out the NASA higher-ups in Armageddon, which was co-written by J.J. Abrams, and came out just 15 years ago.)

The lack of female “bads” isn’t universal – for instance, there was the memorable (though brief) appearance of Ellen Brandt in Iron Man 3. But it’s clear that, as meager as the attempt to include “good” female characters in movies is overall, even less consideration is given to including women in antagonist roles.

I feel like filmmakers are thinking, “why does it matter if there are female antagonists – it’s not like a villainous character makes women look good.” And while this might be true in the simplest sense, it misses the bigger point. Having female characters in films shouldn’t be about getting in a few nice, positive moments for women and then calling it a day. It should be about naturally having an equal distribution of genders in film roles.

There’s no question it’s important that there be positive female role models in movies. But I’d hope such characters come about not because writers are purposefully trying to check a “strong female character” box and then move on, but because they’re writing female characters that span the range of cinematic possibility as often as they do for male characters.

Of course none of this is to mention the possibility of having a woman be the main villain of a movie, which is almost unheard of in films with male heroes, with exceptions like Dredd or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull being few and far between. (And no, Jurassic Park does not count.) But it would be nice if, for instance, any of the numerous big summer male-fronted superhero films ever dug into the well of female supervillains for their big bad.

One reason filmmakers might be wary of this idea is that they’re afraid of the optics of a male hero hurting a female villain, given the prevalence of real-world male violence against women. If physical confrontation between hero and villain is absolutely crucial, it’s hard to deny the possibility that the imagery of domestic violence or sexual assault could be evoked.

The prevalence of these crimes is, of course, reprehensible on its own. It’s a lesser but still unfortunate side effect that a domain like the escapist fantasy world of film can be affected by their tragic normalcy. And – because it creates a class of characters that can only be male – in a way that serves to marginalize women, no less! That’s one example, of many, of how the different forms of marginalization of women can be interconnected and perpetuating of each other.

And besides, I feel pretty sure the film that culminates in a bloody mano-a-mano showdown between hero and villain is the exception rather than the rule these days anyway. That’s one reason I’m confident that the majority of recent villains could have been genderswapped without any troubling associations being created at all.

Another reason I say that is that the days of underdeveloped villains with few discernible traits but wickedness are mostly behind us, when it comes to well-regarded films at least. Even an unequivocally evil character like Voldemort received a fair deal of humanizing backstory. Most villainous characters will have defenders in fandom, and many have their downfalls slanted as more tragic or anti-heroic than simply an all-around horrible person getting their due.

So I don’t think one can validly make the excuse that there is something inherent about a villain’s character that would be inappropriate to assign to a woman. For instance, I’ve heard the argument that filmmakers want to avoid the femme fatale-style archetype whose villainous traits might just be thinly-veiled critiques of female power and/or sexuality.

But the solution to avoiding that, or any other troubling stereotype, is simple: Be aware enough to know to write something else. Contemporary writers have proven adept at imbuing male villains with humanity that might not have existed in the past, so the idea that their hands would be tied when crafting a female one is not very credible. (Or maybe we just need different writers.)

Though the overall effort is clearly still inadequate, filmmakers these days are usually savvy enough to at least give lip service to the idea of having female characters in their films. It’s time they realized that that should mean all types of characters, on the good-to-evil spectrum and otherwise.

(Top pic, Cheyenne Barros‘ Genderbent Khan Noonien Singh, via Ghost Peppermint.)

Dan Wohl blogs about baseball for a living, and he also has been telling anyone who will listen lately that the primary villain in the next Star Trek film should be a Klingon played by uber-Trekkie Rosario Dawson. He would love for you to follow him on Twitter: @Dan_Wohl.

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  • Anonymous

    I’d say to an extent that it’s tied to the fact that there are still far too few female heroes in superhero movies or genre narratives. For a long time in comics a lot of the female villains were reserved for female heroes because they were worried about the implications of their big, strong, dude heroes beating the crap out of women (which is understandable, I think), and I imagine that logic is still in the minds of some people today.

  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    I still say the best way to write a character of any stripe, be they villain or hero is to have their gender be far down the checklist. Write interesting, fully-formed, believable characters and decide on the gender after the fact. Write awesome characters who happen to be female, rather than awesome female characters.

    Proof that this works is the movie “Salt,” starring Angelina Jolie. Sure, the plot was a bit predictable and convoluted. BUT it was written for a man and then changed for Jolie, with very little altered in the plot. As a result? We have a kickass, fully-formed, non-sexualized action hero. She’s a complex character who just happens to be a woman. Ideally, writers shouldn’t have to write a dude and then flip the gender to get something that balanced, but it might be a good exercise for the ones who find themselves repeating old patterns and then being criticized for it. Using the genderflip method, you get things like their relationships and sexuality as secondary traits, rather than primary. That way, those traits do not end up defining the character.

    When people start with ‘female character’ when they’re developing something, it’s a whole lot easier to fall into tropes and repeat old patterns. If you can describe a character as ‘the _____” (the femme fatale, the wallflower, the girl next door, the ice queen) then you might just be stuck in tropeland. There are genres and types where tropes are the norm and just how things work, but if you are really honestly trying to break type, seeing how short your description of the character can be is a good way to check your work, so to speak.

  • Carl Jackson

    While I agree with the premise, I’ll also say that I think some people are rightfully confused in knowing how it will play out rather than simply telling the best story they can and taking what criticism they may get. You also have the evil queen trope where women with power are evil. But that’s also the problem with hating tropes. It puts you in these weird situations where I don’t know that writers and execs know how something will play.

    That said, a genderbent Khan absolutely would have worked in TWoK and if you use that as a template, you have a great type of story that would have worked. Into Darkness flaw was its over reliance on action scenes, dearth of real emotional development and suspense, and yes the reality that it would have ended with Spock hitting a woman. And I think the script writers convinced themselves that in order to avoid retelling TWoK, they had to jettison everything about it that worked to the point it was an action movie.

  • Samuel

    Another reason why the 2012 Dredd is awesome. Mama is a scary good female villain. And Dredd doesn’t treat her any differently than he treats any other drug lord/murderer.

  • Dan Wohl

    Terrific points. I agree 100%.

  • Jessica Claire

    I think Abrams blew a good chance to have a female semi-villain…if Cumberbatch played Gary Mitchell, then we could’ve had an Elizabeth Dehner.

  • Jon E. Christianson

    It’s also a fascinating phenomenon when it comes to comics.

    With 52 of DC’s September “Villain’s Month” titles announced, only 7 of the 52 villain books are headlined by a female villain.

    It’s also fascinating how often the female villains often get drawn into the default position of becoming a “sexy villain.” Harley wasn’t before, now she is. The two male incarnations of Shadow Thief have never been that way, and, based on the new incarnation’s costume, she’s a “sexy villain” too.

  • BatiHoney

    I am way too sleepy and numb to make a good comment on this, but I wanted to mention a non-sexualized villainess in a superhero movie: Royal Pain from Sky High! It’s puzzling though, that movie had really good reviews and a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, and it was a success commercially, but people don’t really talk about it. Two of the antogists are women, the main character’s mom is a super mom, literally, and his best friend is super sweet and lovely but kicked some butt eventually. Just wanted to throw that out there~

  • http://twitter.com/WhatKateDoes Kate Lorimer

    Female Khan pic is awesome. Its like she’s being played by Esmerelda Weatherwax !

  • Benjamin Meis

    We’ll have to wait for sure until the movie actually comes out, but it looks like Faora is gonna be a pretty strong female villain, even going toe-to-toe with Superman. And she definitely counts as a main villain, at least it looks like she will be treated as an equal threat with Zod (so far as I can tell, of course, I could be proven wrong).

  • Anonymous

    Yesss. Totally agree. Especially about the “chick fight” thing.

    A major issue I had with the Scott Pilgrim movie (I didn’t read the comics) was that when it came to the fight with the evil ex-girlfriend, Scott couldn’t fight her because she was a woman?! She was an awesome villain. And from what I remember, she wasn’t defeated with actual fighting in the end but by making her have an orgasm. W. T. F.

    I definitely appreciate ultra scary, hard to beat, female villains.

  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    Just another note: there’s a huge difference between a male character abusing a female one and a male and female fighting each other. In one of these, a woman is a victim and in the other, she’s an agent responsible for her own actions and fate.

    As long as the incident is not framed as abuse, there’s nothing wrong with a man and a woman duking it out, no matter where they sit on the villain/hero spectrum.

  • http://twitter.com/LibrarianMarian Marian Librarian

    With the inept, stereotypical way StarTrekIntoDarknessNoColon portrays ALL their characters, I wouldn’t trust them to create a fleshed out female villain. I agree with another commenter too, that females tended to be villains a lot in fairy tales and mythology because of the trope of woman who is powerful or at the very least “active” = scary, unpredictable, wild, dangerous, magical (in a bad way), and evil.

    I don’t think we need to push Hollywood for more female villains. Villains are easy to write, and they give the illusion of strength. Yes, villains are active and often get a lot more character development, but honestly that is letting Hollywood off too easy.

    Write female characters that are good, bad, brilliant, not so brilliant, tomboys, girly -girls, etc because women can be all those things, but then back it up by making them complete characters. Have enough of them on screen so it looks like they account for roughly half the population.

  • http://twitter.com/thegaf The Gaf

    Lena Headey in Dread was awesomely villainous.

  • http://arewerobots.libsyn.com/ DarthBetty

    You made sense!

  • Anonymous

    “One reason filmmakers might be wary of this idea is that they’re afraid of the optics of a male hero hurting a female villain, given the prevalence of real-world male violence against women. If physical confrontation between hero and villain is absolutely crucial, it’s hard to deny the possibility that the imagery of domestic violence or sexual assault could be evoked.”

    I seem to recall an uproar over the Terminator fight in Terminator 3 that supports this.

    “Dan Wohl blogs about baseball for a living, and he also has been telling anyone who will listen lately that the primary villain in the next Star Trek film should be a Klingon played by uber-Trekkie Rosario Dawson.”

    That would be pretty cool. Though they’d probably have a scene with her in sexy Klingon underwear. But they might do it as part of a sex scene with Chris Pine in his underwear, so would that make it all right, or just gender neutral gratuitous and offensive?

  • https://plus.google.com/108831586029632971053 Franck P. Rabeson

    Just a bit of nitpicking, but there was at least one female member in Nero’s crew (if you look closer, she’s the only one who got to keep her hair). Now, I’ll give you that, she’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-her character…

  • Anonymous

    I am always a fan of a great female villain – looking forward to see Jodie Foster in the upcoming Elysium.

    I Would dearly love to finally have a woman as the main villain in a Bond film. There have been memorable femme fatales (I admit it – I actually like the femme fatale archetype, problematic though it may be) but a lady mastermind would be a lot of fun for that franchise.

  • Anonymous

    If you’re referring to Harley Quinn, when was she not sexy?

  • http://arewerobots.libsyn.com/ DarthBetty

    Agree! I’m a big villain fan. She was perfect in that role. I didn’t find myself wanting her to be cool because she was a lady, but thinking that she was a great villain and not considering her gender.
    I have seen films where I can see some people in the audience (and sadly who came with me) getting really happy about female characters (or villains) getting slapped around some. So at the same time I understand the apprehension for showing violence of this type. Dredd to me proves that if done correctly, it shouldn’t matter.

  • Anonymous

    Comics version: Scott doesn’t like fighting girls, but he realizes that this is a douche move and kind of cowardly. (This gives him the Power of Love sword, which he uses to defeat Roxie.) All in all, a much more subtle take on this problem that got stomped on in the movie.

    The “back of the knees” thing was in there too, but with Scott telling Ramona to do it to distract Envy. It was also a one-panel gag, rather than the, ah… climax… of the scene.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    I read an incredible article on tumblr this morning talking about all the ways women can make superior combatants.

    1) Punching power comes from the hips, not upper body strength

    2) Lower center of gravity, easier to develop core(women have a hard time developing upper body, but our lower bodies develop muscle fine)

    3) Higher tolerance for pain

    4) Understanding that they MAY HAVE TO FIGHT FOR THEIR LIFE using fighting skills, and don’t hesitate to debilitate.

    The example mentioned above of Lena Headey in the Dredd remake is a good one. Headey’s character isn’t that physical, but she isn’t sexualized by the filmmaker, and Dredd’s partner goes toe to toe with a couple guys, and its awesome.

  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    I go to a kickboxing circuit gym, and yes, punching all comes from the hips. I bet my hitting strength is greater than that of a dude in a similar weight class who doesn’t know how to throw a proper punch.

  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    An example of a great dude-on-lady villain fight in the comics genre is actually in X3. When Wolverine is fighting Lady Deathstrike, there’s nothing gratuitous or abuse-y about it.

    Now, Deathstrike was mind-controlled at the time, which in itself is highly problematic. Still, if you take that context away, it was a very evenly matched fight where she got the upper hand several times.

  • EleniRPG

    “Starfleet Command roundtable which shows a 20-person group that’s between 70-75 percent male.” Well, maybe they had a 50/50 ratio initially, but the men on set kept saying it looked like there were more women than men. This site linked this article from ThinkProgress last week (http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2013/05/30/2077551/at-the-mpaa-geena-davis-says-raising-awareness-key-to-change-the-ratio-on-women-in-movies/), which quotes Geena Davis as saying “There’s a study, in a group if there’s 17 percent women, men think it’s balanced. If there’s 33 percent women, they think there’s more women than men.” Men need to get better at maths.

    Also: Does Talia al Ghul sort of count?

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    X2, but the point still stands.

  • Jon E. Christianson

    It should definitely be noted that when I say “sexy” (complete with mocking airquotes), I moreso mean the comic book industry’s penchant for randomly putting female characters in clothes uncharacteristic of their character for the apparent sake of male gaze.

    Certain characters make sense with revealing clothing (Starfire, Emma Frost, sometimes Ivy). Others don’t. Harley is one.

    Harley was never about her broad sex appeal. She cared only about one set of eyeballs: the Joker. And, in all honestly, her old outfit WAS sexy (and fashion forward, too). It was sleek, sophisticated, and quirky befitting her character.

    Her current outfit is stock-issue “short shorts, knee-high socks/boots, and corset” get up that so many ladies get saddled with nowadays, regardless of their character.

    But “sexy” was never one of her top attributes. Now, her outfit and pre-Kot SS characterization has made it one. Like every other female villain. I can’t remember the last time a male character used his “sexy” to win in a fight.

  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    Right! I rewatched them both within two days recently, so they smeared together a bit.

  • Jen L

    I think that the case of Khan in the reboot is a very good example. He is motivated by his sense of family. He is acting as protector of his family, in a “mother henish” way. If Khan exhibited all of the traits exhibited in the movie but was female, it would be believable but it also would be less likely to evoke a domestic violence theme (in an offensive way) because she would be effectively invulnerable. I like it!

  • Nikki Lincoln

    This is one of the reasons that Once Upon a Time is so great – there are strong female heroes and villains. Villains can be such complicated characters with amazing motivations and it’s sad that more shows and movies can’t pull that off.

  • Katy

    Lena Headey in general is awesome. Between her Ma-Ma and Cersei in GoT, it’s no wonder she said once in an interview that fans are scared to approach her.

  • Katy

    It certainly appears that way in the trailers.

  • Magdalen O’Reilly

    I will never understand people’s need to comment saying, “Well what about THIS character…” You’re pointing out a handful of examples in an ocean of evidence to the contrary. If your comment starts with, “Well what about ___” you’ve already lost. Women are not the distaff to the default, we’re not the alternative to the norm. We’re 50% of the flippin’ population and if you’re splitting hairs we’re actually a little more. Movies like Star Trek make it look like we’re 20% max. lol

  • Lapin

    I just saw Dredd this weekend and loved the crap out of it for its awesome female characters. My friends and I were eating up all of the scenes with Mama. She was so creepily ruthless- and her gender didn’t matter at all to her role. Although I will admit that my friends keep repeating that whole “she… feminized him” line constantly now. That will probably be the thing they remember most from the movie, for better or worse.

  • Anonymous

    You know where we find female villains? Disney! Some of the most memorable and iconic villains of movie history have been female. Sure, some of them belonged to the trope “Older woman jealous of young beauty” but Cruella de Ville was a phenomenal study in unscrupulous greed and Ursula wanted to get dominion over the sea and become queen. Maleficent was just magnificently furious for not receiving the respect she felt she deserved. And how about the Wicked Witch of the West in Oz!?
    All of these female villains have ceratinly given a lot of chills and thrills to boys and men too. Unfortunately nowadays so many female villains are sexualised in a manner more reminiscent of Bond Babes. I don’t mind a few Bond Babes, but they don’t all have to be of that ilk, secretly lusting after our hero. One of the many reasons why I’m hesitant about the coming Wolverine movie and its portrayal of Viper…

  • Anonymous

    It was a great fight but I was so ANGRY they had her mind controlled and silent like a freakin robot!! They took away the whole back story and her own vendetta against Wolverine and just made her a pawn. What a waste of a phenomenal villain who scared the crap out of me when I was younger and read about her in the comics.
    I am also still upset they made Mystique naked, focusing more on her body than her macchiavellian mind. And in Forst Cöass they made her into a moody insecure teenager!

  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    Yeah, Deathstrike was definitely not used to her full potential. Which is why I hold the fight up itself, and not the context of it.

  • Anonymous

    I’d be scared to approach her for fear of being overwhelmed by her awesome.

  • Shannon

    THIS. Very well said, Jenny. I couldn’t agree more.

  • aradia zavion

    Electra King from “The World Is Not Enough”? I always thought of her as the main villain and Renard as her henchman.

  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    I’d argue that past positive representations doesn’t excuse current lapses. If Joss Whedon or some other creator who had an excellent reputation had a sexist lapse, I’d still call ‘em on it.

  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    I’d argue that past positive representations doesn’t excuse current lapses. If Joss Whedon or some other creator who had an excellent reputation had a sexist lapse, I’d still call ‘em on it.

  • Anonymous

    SPOILERS!

    As much as I hatedThe Dark Knight Rises, at least the villainous mastermind was Talia al Ghul.
    As with the lack of villainesses, Hollywood is also on a roll with whitewashing the rare ethnically diverse supervillains. I don’t care how badass everyone thinks Liam Neeson is, Ras al Ghul shouldn’t be a white guy using a Japanese guy as a decoy. His daughter wasn’t appropriately Middle Eastern either. Instead of taking the opportunity to give a Latino actor a star-making turn as Bane, he’s just as Anglo as any of Gotham’s native crazies. There was lots of concern that the Mandarin would be a racist carricature, but wasn’t his role as a patsy to Aldrich Killian (who insisted he was the real Mandarin all along even though this retcon doesn’t really jive with the Ten Rings in the first movie) the most racist way they could’ve presented the character? Classic Khan Noonien Singh was progressive as a non-Caucasian Ubermensch ruling his native continent, but making him white in the reboot is a throwback to Western Imperialism & genetic superiority only being for white boys.
    I get that it’s not PC to have white heroes beat up on non-Caucasian villains, but it’s insulting to have the few canonically non-white roles be whitewashed. These are villains who are equal & in some aspescts superior to the heroes, which is why there are plenty of fans who identify more with supervillains. They have power, brains, charisma, henchmen, & crackling dialogue. They’re much more important than a sidekick or a supporting character whose race was changed to get the bare minimum of diversity. I wouldn’t want these ethnic villains to come off as xenophobic, which should be great motivation for the filmmakers to make it clear that their villainy is distinct from their race & that they’re not meant to represent everyone of that race. Taking the creatively bankrupt route of homogenizing everyone’s race isn’t the way forward.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    Mr. & Mrs. Smith also did a good job with their fight scene. After several scenes of attempted murder with knives, bombs, rocket launchers, and small arms, a few punches don’t seem that severe. And they both hold their own.

  • Anonymous

    One reason filmmakers might be wary of this idea is that they’re afraid of the optics of a male hero hurting a female villain, given the prevalence of real-world male violence against women. If physical confrontation between hero and villain is absolutely crucial, it’s hard to deny the possibility that the imagery of domestic violence or sexual assault could be evoked.

    While I understand filmmakers’ caution on the basis that they could be attacked based on this impression, I don’t think this impression is correct. Domestic violence is between two people in a relationship. There’s no connection between and it and equal-terms fights between male protagonists and female antagonists. And not all movies shy away from it – Wolverine’s had two decent fights with female villains (Mystique in the first X-Men movie, Deathstryke in the second), though this may have worked better because Wolverine is seen as being more in the anti-hero vein.

    If we accept that woman can fight, and that woman can be either good or bad, and that woman can have varying degrees of toughness just as men do, there’s no reason why physical violence against a female antagonist should be an issue.

  • Anonymous

    Lol! Now I really want to see a male character ardently use his “sexy” to help his comrades save the day!

  • Anonymous

    It took me a while to notice that picture of Khan was rule 63.

  • Anonymous

    Sexy Hawkeye is going to be canon. One of these days!

  • Anonymous

    I’d almost argue that the categorization of “A Sexist” (or any other -ist) is irrelevant. The important thing is the actions, the way things are portrayed in individual movies, not the moral character of JJ Abrams. The director’s track record can affect your expectations for a movie, but when push comes to shove we end up talking about The Movie.

  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    Actions, characterizations and plot points can be sexist, that’s what I meant. I don’t think we should judge the creators on a moral level, because you’re right, that’s not what critics should judge.

    It’s not about the people who create things, but the work itself. Sometimes a history of one type of portrayal or another can give context, but in the end, yeah, the work should be judged on its own merits (or lack thereof.) Not just because in criticism, it should be about the work, but also because every movie is not just a reflection of one person. Studio pressures, writers, marketing decisions, etc…all play into it.

    So we’d say “Into Darkness has sexist moments,” not, “JJ Abrams is sexist because there are these moments in his movie,” for instance.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I was agreeing with you. Just clarifying the point. :)

  • Anonymous

    At the same time, you can look at good examples of female villains and dissect what makes them work. I think you can do that without excusing their rarity, or saying that it negates the trend.

  • Cadence Woodland

    Or Ripley in the Alien films. Originally male, I believe, as well. Turned into an iconic female role by not touching on gender at all.

  • Kamil Kukowski

    I’m not saying it will happen (I have no connections) but what if The Enchantress was the BIg Bad in Thor 3? After all she was the one that always acted when Loki was incapacitated

  • Joanna

    [SPOILERS FOR ELEMENTARY]

    I was rather pleased that not only did they gender swap Watson and NOT screw it up, but they also gender swapped Moriarty and treated her quite well. Sure, she did romance Sherlock while under the guise of Irene Adler BUT I’ve always reckoned if the original Moriarty and Sherlock weren’t straight/asexual they’d be totally getting it on.

    Elementary’s portrayal of Moriarty was quite good (though no Andrew Scott) and her gender was never brought up as a big deal apart from when she was revealed as being a woman having led everyone on that she was a man. She says, “[I've kept myself hidden] from those who might…struggle with my gender…as if men had the monopoly on murder.” I love that last part because it sort of scoffs at the entertainment industry’s mono-gender casting of villains.

    After Moriarty reveals herself for the first time her gender isn’t an issue – she’s just Moriarty being Moriarty and Sherlock treats her like any other iteration of Moriarty that ever was. The season finale was great. More of this please, world.

  • Guymelef

    Dude, all of this times infinity. I always say that people should write characters, not genders.

  • Magdalen O’Reilly

    Yay! My world view is validated!

  • Mina

    I also think it’s a little odd that Harley is rarely portrayed as highly intelligent. Not that she’s shown as stupid, but intelligence is never really displayed as one of her primary characteristics. With her background as a clinical psychiatrist, I assume she has a PhD, or at least a Master’s.

    I love Harley. She’s one of my most beloved Batman villains, and indeed, the exclusive role of sexy villain sidekick is quite a waste.

  • Anonymous

    Well said.

  • http://wisb.blogspot.com/ Shaun Duke

    I still have this secret hope that Whedon’s announcement that he will include the Scarlet Witch in Avengers 2 will mean that one day we’ll see her become the villain. That would be awesome!

  • Adam Outrage

    I don’t recall anyone complaining about the the John Mclain vs. Maggie Q fight in Die Hard though so maybe we can have male heroes having a fist fight with female villains….

  • Anonymous

    Because if Hollywood creates a female villain with a male protagonist, they immediately get pounced on for being misogynistic and advocating violence against women?

  • sukeban

    The obvious answer is having a female protagonist too. Problem solved.

  • http://www.spaceunicorn.net Jayme

    This is actually the first fight that pops into my mind when trying to think of good fights between male hero, female villain.

  • Myomorph

    Yep. Even now when I think of the word ‘villain’ after all the books I’ve read and movies I’ve watched, the FIRST image that comes to mind is Malificent. That ladies and gentlemen, is the true face of villainy.

  • Anonymous

    Not that the issue is fixed, but there is a female on Nero Crew. Seen briefly when he says “WAIT!” If I remember right when he ordered to magnify the Enterprise. And/or when the Narada has been hit by the red matter and everyone decides to chicken out.

  • odango atama

    Which reminds me of one of my classmates. He said, “It’s hard to write female characters” to which I said, “I’m expected to write male characters. If you can’t write character, you’re not a writer.” That shut him up so fast. :-D

  • odango atama

    Someone down voted this?

    Love the points.

  • odango atama

    Talia counts, especially since she’s the brains behind the outfit. I just wish she had more to do, that is, screw with Bruce Wayne more, so when she reveals herself as the primary antagonist, then it wouldn’t have left me going, “But why’s she … ? Didn’t she … ? Wha … ?”

  • odango atama

    I would like to share this on Facebook. May I?

  • odango atama

    Violence against women isn’t just physical; we live in a world where women are marginalized, hated, and dehumanized — just look at the battle for contraceptives in the USA — so putting a woman in any kind of a negative light could be seen as adding to this dehumanization.

    What’s more, the conversation changes when POC, women, and LGBTQ individuals are at the table, contributing to these writing and producing choices. Here’s to more voices at the table.

  • Anonymous

    Sure, just include attribution.

  • odango atama

    Of course. :)