Disclaimer* I’ve read maybe 4 comics in my life, I’m coming at this subject from a film perspective and I’m not ashamed to say I get most of my comic book information from friends and wikipedia.
Villain: “a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel; or a character in a play, novel, or the like, who constitutes an important evil agency in the plot”
When I saw Guardians of the Galaxy the character Nebula stood out as, as far as I’m aware, the first true female villain to come out of the DC/Marvel films.
Female villains in comic book inspired films tend to be the sidekick character, for example Emma Frost in X-Men First Class, less a villain and more of a misguided character who showed a change of heart towards the end of First Class unlike her male counterpart.
When we first meet Mystique, she’s Magneto’s sidekick and yes a villain but since that first X-Men film we’ve seen her start out as a nice mutant (First Class) who then turns “evil” but shows compassion at times and is shown to be vulnerable when she reverts back to human in The Last Stand.
Rarely do male villains in films show any remorse for their actions, they’re pure evil and that’s why audiences love villains. They get the best lines and we love to see them create chaos and mayhem while knowing that the good guys…or girls will save the day.
Nebula was fantastic and really stood out to me, far more so than the kinda bland Gamora. She showed no mercy when fighting her ‘sister’, she’s one mean lady and I loved her! And I want more!
There is a tendency to give female villains a backstory that explains why they act the way they do, they’re broken, scorned etc This is on the assumption that we want to relate to her, to understand her but what if we just want her to be a badass evil as fuck woman?
Rarely are the male villains given such backstories or if they do have a sympathetic backstory they are usually confined to the comics and it’s not translated on screen.
There is still a lot of sexism in the film industry and I can’t help but think the lack of female villains is due to an idealised standard for women. There either aren’t good female villains in the comic book world (which I don’t believe is true) OR the people making these films aren’t interested in them. Why?
We haven’t had a female led superhero film since Elektra which is outrageous considering Hollywood has rebooted Spiderman, Hulk, Superman the list goes on, which could have been time better spent. Women read comics, women like films why on earth is it taking so long?
“’So, why do you write these strong female characters?” “Because you’re still asking me that question”
Great reply! but where are they Joss? Buffy started almost 20 years ago! Firefly? 12 years ago. As an aside, strong female character does not always mean kickass martial art expert which is what a lot of women in comic book films are. Rarely (aside from The X-Men) do they have superpowers, Black Widow, Melinda May, Catwoman, Batgirl, Black Canary all kickass crime fighters and that’s great but up against characters like Thor, Superman, Doctor Manhattan, Hulk, Wolverine the power just isn’t equal.
So, what do I want? I want a female superhero to really get behind. A woman who is a proper villain in the same vein as Thanos, Joker, Red Skull etc I want her to have superpowers, I want her to be ruthless, I want to get excited over a female character in a comic book adaptation and I want her on the merch!
Please let me know if you can think of a female villain in any comic book inspired films!