I love strong female characters. Nothing will turn me off of a series, book or movie faster than a typical "damsel in distress" moment when the character is helpless in the face of something which a typical woman should be able to handle. (Getting a little shell-shocked in an alien invasion is fair, but it annoys me when otherwise capable women don't at least make an effort to rescue themselves from bad situations.) There are a huge number of fantastic kick-ass fictional ladies who have inspired a generation of women to believe there is no fate but what we make ourselves.
This is why I get frustrated when I hear people dismissing female characters in comics and science fiction without giving them a chance to show their awesomeness. The ladies get passed over for their own feature films, find themselves discussed more for their cleavage than their characters, or find their stories pre-empted by male characters. The justification is that women just don't enjoy the genre and are satisfied with watching male characters, to which I say: Bull<insert expletive>.
Geek girls are here and proud and we'll keep coming back in greater numbers until Hollywood can't ignore us any longer. So today I am celebrating 20 fabulous and powerful characters and the women who embodied them at this year's Comiccon.
|Renee as Agent Peggy Carter|
Renee chose Agent Carter in part because Carter's forties flair allows her to dress "like a real person." She also admires how, even though she doesn't have any superpowers, the character uses both her mind and her physical strength, downplaying her physical attractiveness. As someone who grew up in the military, Renee feels Agent Carter is a good role model for young girls. She challenges both the male establishment and traditional boundaries.
|Breanne as Batgirl|
A long-time DC fan, Breanne has enjoyed the Batman world since she was small. She enjoys finding out about the lesser known female counterparts to the traditional male monoliths and finds they often have cooler stories.
|UndeadDu as Black Widow|
UndeadDu is a professional cosplayer who chose Black Widow out of admiration for the character's ability to accomplish so much without powers. She found the recent character arc exploring Widow's infertility to be interesting, as it's a challenge many women can identify with. She loves the combination of feminine beauty and strength, intelligence and physical domination, cold practicality and determination to do the right thing, all of which make Widow a deep, multi-layered character.
|Jade as Capable|
Jade is a Mad Max fan who loves the post-apocalyptic world. She enjoyed the strong female presence in the latest movie, Fury Road, and how, in the end, the mothers and wives didn't need a man to rescue them. They took care of themselves, from their initial escape to their triumphant return to rule in their former captor's place.
|Nicole as Catwoman|
It's that refusal to be pinned down into one category which attracted Nicole to Catwoman. "She's strong and interesting" with a complex history with the other characters in Batman's universe, particularly the Caped Crusader himself.
|Patricia as Deadpool|
Patricia was quite clear that she was embodying the male Deadpool instead of his female counterpart. She calls herself a highly sarcastic and direct person and finds Deadpool fun to impersonate. She loves his combination of humor and crudity. "He's super not perfect."
|Emma as Evil-Lyn|
Along with her companion, who cosplayed as Skeletor, Emma enjoyed the humor of the original cartoon series. She liked how Evil-Lyn was a partner with Skeletor, his equal and perhaps his superior. She enjoys the idea of being a sorceress and getting to play with magic and illusion.
|Kimberley as Leeloo|
Fifth Element is Kimberley's favourite movie and she especially loved Mila Jovovich's strong portrayal of Leeloo. Despite having to learn about a completely new world, she rarely finds herself at a loss.
|Kimmy as Loki|
Loki is Kimmy's favourite character and she sees him as misunderstood rather than evil. Certainly one can make a persuasive argument that Thor's "smash first, worry later" approach to rulership might not be the best option for the Asgaardians.
|Leah as Mystique|
Leah chose Mystique for her uniqueness. There is no other character quite like her anywhere else in either DC or Marvel. She's a strong female lead and a kickass character.
|Stephanie as Poison Ivy|
Stephanie runs the needles behind Yarn Monster Cosplay, knitting fantastic costumes. She initially created the Poison Ivy costume when moving but enjoyed being the villainess so much that she's continued to add to and develop the costume over the years. She likes Ivy for her phenomenal powers and her determination not to be stepped on.
|Cailey as Polaris|
Cailey admits she chose Polaris partly because she loves the colour green but also because she found her abilities fascinating. Most people aren't familiar with the character, giving her a chance to share something new with Comiccon fans.
|Josee as Quorra|
Josee likes Quorra as a "really cool" character who takes on the usually male-dominated save the day role. She is the expert who helps to guide Sam and keeps him alive. Eager and enthusiastic and not ashamed of her desire to learn, Quorra is a fun and cool heroine to personify.
|Amanda as Rey|
Amanda shares my love of Star Wars and my excitement over such a strong female character in the lead. What she really appreciates is the depth of story being hinted at for Rey's backstory, suggesting that we will learn even more about her as the Star Wars saga continues.
|Karin as Riddler and Gillan as Harley Quinn|
Karin loved Jim Carrey's portrayal of the Riddler in Batman Forever, where the Canadian funny man delivered a quirky and very physical performance of the question-marked villain. Gillan likes Harley's badass character and with Suicide Squad coming up, I'm sure lots of people will agree with her.
|Heather as Stephanie Brown's Robin|
Heather chose Stephanie Brown's Robin to draw attention to the character, finding she often gets overlooked as people focus on the men who have stood by the Dark Knight's side.
|Vanessa as Rogue|
Rogue was Vanessa's favourite X-man (and mine!) and her favourite hero growing up. She enjoyed the character's teasing relationship with the mysterious Cajun thief, Gambit.
|Zoe as Storm|
Zoe has liked Storm since she was a kid. As one of the few black female comic books characters, it was a thrill to read her adventures.
|Susan as Thor|
Susan admitted she was attracted to Thor's physicality, which allowed her to show off her own impressive physique. She chose to cosplay as Thor to showcase her own strength.
There are hundreds of similar stories out there: characters who have fought their personal demons (and the more literal kind), who have saved the world more times they can count, who have made personal sacrifices and who have struggled with the duality of ordinary life and being a hero. And they just happen to be women.
As a girl, joining the boys, I always hated being regulated to the "token" female on the team, doomed to have to sit still and wait to be rescued. But as I started to read more on my own, I found that their stories were just as compelling as the men and I started to be proud to represent them. I sought out more stories of strong women and then I began to write my own.
I don't believe in silencing voices, so I have no problem with writers continuing to produce tales about male heroes. But I want to remind them that the female half of the population is also here, with stories to tell which can delve deeply into different aspects of the human condition. They can inspire and influence whole new generations.
Don't let those stories go to waste or be forgotten.