5 THINGS WE’VE LEARNED FROM FEMALE MARVEL CHARACTERS
“The world has changed, and none of us can go back. All we can do is our best, and sometimes the best that we can do is to start over.”
— Peggy Carter, Captain America: The Winter Soldier
What would you do if you could start over?
Let me pinch in an idea, a really cool one as well: Seek equality and empowerment.
I keep forgetting how underestimated women are. I have surrounded myself with power girls: One of my friends is a renowned dentist, another an accomplished artist, my best friend is a badass redhead with an enormous encyclopedic knowledge and critical thought who decided to change careers and get a degree in computer science and still find the time and energy to run around with me from metal concerts to disco parties on Saturday nights. So with powerful figures like that, by my side, I keep forgetting.
I have been watching a lot of Marvel films lately. And I noticed a pattern. I googled it. Apparently, I was not the only one who noticed. There’s even a term for it:
Disclaimer: I’m not a fun of the word feminism but the rise of female super-heroes is happening, as the representation for women on screen has radically increased and we keep seeing more and more heroines on the spotlight.
So what have we learned, so far from the influx of Marvel super girls?
1 “Plan A” may fail, but we don’t have to.
Just look at the numbers. Female-driven stories on the big screen were not valued, up until recently. When studios placed their bets on female characters, it did not go particularly well. Sponsors were losing money and we were losing face. Think of the 2004 Catwoman and the 2005 Electra. But did that stop us? No, we worked harder, came up with better ideas and fiercer scenarios and along came Wonder Woman to break the records.
Real life lesson: If your “plan A” fails, it doesn’t mean that you have to. You can totally get to your final destination even if you have to change paths.
2 We can be expert tacticians.
A lesson learned from Black Widow. Field commanders used to be stereotypically male. Leadership used to be handed to men and men only, but not anymore. I’m not going to get into politics but I think we have now established that girls are equally effective strategists.
Real life lesson: It’s not a competition. There is no need to outperform each other as we have made clear that leadership is a matter of individual abilities and has nothing to do with sex. And by leadership, I mean even the simplest of concepts: Being in charge of our own lives without following certain rules that make no sense to us or leading a group of people in a business environment.
3 Sexy is good.
Personally, I never understood what’s so erroneous about being sexy. Does sexiness devalue ones integrity? Not in my world. Not in the world of Echo or Julia Carpenter or Saturn Girl who was ranked 50th in Comics Buyer’s Guide’s 100 Sexiest Women in Comics list. All of the Marvel heroines are armed with a good, healthy dose of sexiness without being objectified, being reduced or using that to their advantage.
Real life lesson: You may or may not feel the need to be viewed as sexually attractive. That is utterly irrelevant to any other parts of your personality. There is no reason for a woman not to embrace her feminine qualities. I’m not suggesting that those qualities should be used to redirect people’s attention to those elements. But a woman’s demeanor is what matters. If you feel sexy, don’t repress it. Do what’s natural to you, there is no right or wrong.
4 We all have a past.
And that does not have to define us. Look at Firestar. She went through emotional manipulations of Empath and Emma Frost which continued to take their toll on her to the point where it took her years before she truly became comfortable using her powers and finding herself again. She went on, to melt thick red-brick walls like she was meant to.
Real life lesson: Don’t let the past define your future. You probably had a few rough experiences. But so have we. All of us. Move on.
5 We should embrace our dark side.
A lesson learned from Lilith. She was turned into a vampire. She wandered the Earth for many years, learning more of her powers and how to control her blood lust. Instead of becoming a victim of her curse she turned that to her strongest suit.
Real life lesson: Embrace your dark side. It’s easy to run away from the worst parts of yourself or to ignore them completely. But that won’t make you a better person. And it certainly won’t last forever. By acknowledging your darkest parts you may find that they are the ones that makes you unique and powerful. For instance, maybe you lack in social skills, but that’s why you are so creative and have developed an original thought. Use that to your advantage.
Before I sign off I’d like to take a moment to appreciate Stan Lee’s legacy.
The fact that he showed us how ordinary people could do extraordinary things. He redefined what constitutes a hero and inspired us to see that our dysfunctional situations and our quirky nature is what transforms us into everyday super-heroes.
Until the next one,