I don’t know how many of you went out to see Captain Marvel this weekend, but all I have to say is…WAOW.
We may have joined hands in solidarity around Wonder Woman, but after the glorious, badassery of Carol Danvers, I’m sorry but… there is no other.
There are so many moments that made the movie infinitely better than Wonder Woman, but what really did it for me was the character development.
Big surprise, huh?
Captain Marvel is an origin story—one that could’ve been about a black woman named Monica Rambeau who started the Avengers, but I digress. In an origin story, we typically find out their backstory and the thing that pushes or motivates them to become a superhero. This is what business coaches like to call “finding their why.” Captain Marvel does a brilliant job of that without diving into some sad or dark past that winds up being their sole motivation for doing good.
(We’re looking at you, Bruce Wayne.)
Ultimately, that character has to face a test that puts them in a gray area where right and wrong aren’t so clear cut. Then they are forced to reason out the best thing to do in a bad situation.
(Still looking at you, Bruce. You really need some therapy, my guy. The fact that my favorite moment in Dawn of Justice is when dry ass Superman debates whether or not the world needs you and discards you like so much dirty laundry speaks to your tired and problematic character arc.)
Captain Marvel escapes the “Dark Knight Of The Soul”—yes, I meant to spell it that way— with an amnesia trope, which can be tired, but only if it’s done incorrectly. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. I’m gonna stop now before I actually end up giving you real spoilers, but sufficed to say, Carol Danvers is the bees-knees. And seeing a strong female superhero done so well made me think of the things that make a superheroine fall short.
So here we go.
5 reasons why your strong female character is annoying AF:
1. You think making your female character masculine makes her strong.
*sighs heavily as she presses fingertips to her closed eyelids*
This isn’t in order of irritation, but this is number one because it irritates the absolute fuck out of me.
I’m a late seventies baby. The 80s and 90s raised me, and maybe I’m biased but it feels like we had more strong female characters back then. Sarah Connor, Ripley, Xena, Buffy, etc. And as much as I loved those characters, most of them suffer from the same thing—they’re characters who were given masculine traits in order to be perceived as strong.
One could argue that Captain Marvel falls into that category but I think it skated around it in one very clear way. Carol Danvers was clearly born strong, but in a way that is realistic and attainable. She was a tough kid who became a tough woman. She didn’t become strong out of necessity. She became strong because she wanted to be. The flashbacks of her falling down or “failing up” demonstrate this brilliantly.
It would be really great if we had a female superhero who retained their femininity and sexuality and was still considered smart, and strong, and hero worthy, but until then, Carol Danvers will do just fine.
2. You make her reckless instead of heroic.
The Amazon archetype is often written in such a way that she charges headlong into a battle and often needs to be rescued or another character has to sacrifice themselves in order to save them and complete the mission. The martyr is often her love interest which leaves her loveless… which apparently makes her more relatable? Newsflash: It doesn’t make her relatable. It makes her reckless, and loveless, and sometimes, too stupid to live.
3. She’s an emotionless robot with no friends and no feelings.
You guys, it’s totally okay for female superheroes to have feelings. Even pants feelings. The only thing I ask is that if they have pants feelings, don’t punish them by killing their lover or having that lover suddenly become a villain. Superhero teams can be great couples. Look at the Incredibles! They seem to make it work.
Also, stop making them bitchy, dark, and brooding loners. Give them friends and close relationships that they value. A family—that isn’t dead—that they spend time with when they aren’t saving the world. A couple of the best scenes in Captain Marvel were when Maria Rambeau told Carol how much she missed her best friend and when she gave her that pep talk that ended in a big hug. These were such endearing moments! Please give your character friendships! Let’s change this persistent and negative narrative that girls can’t get along without being catty.
4. She allows her feelings to sway her from her mission.
The “I have too many feelings so I’m going to fuck up this mission by acting on them EVEN THOUGH ITS OBVIOUSLY A BAD DECISION” plot device has been done to death. Quit it. Women make hard decisions all the time. Even when they have a lot of feelings and PMS.
5. You use her male counterparts as a plot device to undermine and discredit her intelligence.
In the year of our lord twenty-nineteen, it would be really awesome if the men in your stories could just listen to women. It would be even more amazing if they could learn something from her and consider her a worthy partner or adversary.
Those five reasons are really just scratching the surface. I’m sure there are more. What characteristics do you find annoying in female superheroes?
Let me know in the comments!