Super Specific | Enough with superhero femme fatales
Super Specific is a bi-weekly blog about pop culture superheroes.
In the 2010 Marvel Cinematic Universe film “Iron Man 2,” the general public was introduced to one of Marvel’s most dangerous women – Russian assassin Natasha Romanoff, also known as Black Widow.
While I’m a die-hard Natasha stan and her inaugural fight scene in the white hall is one of my favorites, it served no purpose in the film other than to be ogled. She’s dressed provocatively and appears in a completely pointless strip scene in the back of a limo as she’s on her way to beat some goons while Happy Hogan ogles from the driver’s seat.
All in a day’s work for femme fatales, I guess.
the definition for a femme fatale is “an irresistibly attractive woman, especially one who leads men into difficult, dangerous or disastrous situations”.
Let’s be clear, there’s nothing wrong with being sexy. Every woman has the right to display her appeal if she wishes, and also has the right to fire anyone who wants to take advantage of her because of it.
But it plays into what I like to call the “witch or female dog” stereotype – where women in literature are only allowed to be a beautiful young girl in love or a haggard old crone. That’s not all a woman should be – and that’s not all superhero wives should be either.
If you think of the most popular female comic book characters, the list you’ll get is mostly femme fatales. Black Widow, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Elektra, Mystique – the list goes on.
You sometimes see other characters whose main personality traits aren’t centered around their seductive abilities, like Wonder Woman or Storm, but there’s another side to these female characters that we need to address. They are all lean, fit and toned.
Tall women in the superhero genre are severely underrepresented. In truth, representation of tall people in the media is hard to come by. I spent about two hours researching stats on this, and I’m telling you all – even the research is barely there.
Logically, we all know that women come in all shapes and sizes, but these days everything is photoshopped to hell. The same goes for how women’s bodies are drawn in comics.
A perfect example of the anatomical nightmares that comic book heroines are often forced to go through is a variant cover of the 2014 Spider-Woman comic book drawn by Italian cartoonist Milo Manara.
The cover features Spider-Woman, Jessica Drew, crouching atop a skyscraper with her ass incredibly positioned in the air. It’s an anatomically impossible position for even the most flexible people to assume – and it’s designed entirely to appeal to the male gaze.
More often than not, female superheroes run around in some sort of form-fitting costume meant to accentuate their figure. And while people might say that some male superheroes don’t exactly wear tactical gear when heading into battle, these male superheroes aren’t put in similar poses on the covers of their comic books. .
And if you can’t get enough of the misogyny in the superhero genre, there’s always cultural bias and race to add to the mix.
At the beginning of FebruaryJason Aaron, the current screenwriter of Marvel’s “King Conan” comic book, introduced a femme fatale in the Native American-inspired storyline of the comic book who went by the name of Matoaka – otherwise known as Pocahontas.
For the sake of words, let’s briefly set aside the gross misrepresentation of traditional Native American dress with her inaccurate costume, as well as the blatant sexualization indicated by her “boob covers,” to say that Pocahontas was only about 11 years old. when she first meet English settlers who invaded Powahatan territory in 1607.
The English eventually captured her and forced her to marry John Rolfe. She traveled with him and their young son to England, where she was paraded before the nobility. Then she died of an unknown disease around the age of 21 on the way back to the Americas.
Pocahontas has been depicted in various films over the years, and the accuracy of each would likely leave a historian in a coma. Although the Disney movie “Pocahontas” may have some great songs, there never was any romantic interaction between Pocahontas and John Smith. What I mean is that people can’t seem to let BIPOC women rest and instead seem to want to over-sexualize them for no good reason.
The performance created significant outrage on Twitter. In response to this criticism, Aaron released a statement to news site Bleeding Cool with an apology. He said the character’s name and likeness would be changed in future editions of the comic book series, and sales made from the published issue would be donated to the National Resource Center for Native Women.
Native women are stuck in a stereotype – Pocahontas is the often used role model, and that role model is inherently flawed and dances on the grave of a girl who was abducted for political gain and sexually assaulted.
People have been engaging in the sexualization of women, both fictional and real, for literally thousands of years. Helen of Troy and Cleopatra are still silky-skinned temptresses in the eyes of many. For many of the women on our comic book pages, that stereotype probably won’t fade too much, either.
But I hope future writers will have the foresight to include these “sexy” portrayals where appropriate. There are things to expect with characters like America Chávez Where Ms. Marvel.
I’m crossing my fingers that in the next comic I pick up the artist has done me the favor of sacrificing that chest window in the woman’s catsuit – even if it means losing a couple ticket sales of sad and excited men.