Modern Heroines – Chicks Who Can Fight

Black Widow with PistolsIn my last post I picked on the irksome stereotype of heroes in modern entertainment. Now it’s time for the heroines to take center stage. Not because I’m sexist and I want to flay the idea of female fighters but because it’s getting old. You know what you’re going to get.

Every. Single. Time.

That takes away the mystery and confines them to a boring box.

It doesn’t matter if the cliché is a warrior chick or a bumbling old professor; it needs an escort to the door.

The Warrior Chick

Modern entertainment is flooded with this type of character.

  • Black Widow
  • Agents Skye, May, and Bobbi from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
  • Pretty much every character from Arrow (except Felicity)
  • Tauriel
  • Susan and Lucy (to some extent)
  • Katniss
  • Éowyn

I’m not complaining about the trend. What I am complaining about is the fact that like ripped guys, it’s becoming almost mandatory for female characters to flash their impressive combat skills, especially in action movies and TV shows.

After watching probably a season and a half of Arrow, I started to get annoyed with the fact that every woman apparently had trained in martial arts. They appeared normal for a while before their façade vanished and they were deadly killers, and I thought, “Oh brother, here we go again.”

From Tatsu, who seemed to be nothing more than a protective mother, to Helena, the seemingly demure daughter of a wealthy and influence businessman in Starling City, it kept happening until it got redundant.

I don’t mind the stereotype as much in S.H.I.E.L.D because being a fighter is part of their training. When it happens it doesn’t throw a wrench into your expectations because it’s a natural part of their job.

When it’s not, however, and I see characters who have no reason to be that good of a fighter suddenly displaying black-belt skills, it rapidly descends into the abyss of aggravating.

That’s where a different type of female character comes in, acting as a pleasant counterpoint to all the kicking, chopping, spinning, and smashing.

The Regular Chick

Sure, there are plenty of ordinary female characters who don’t have the hand-to-hand combat skills of Black Widow, but it’s less common to find them in movies and shows that have the action ratcheted to the top notch.

When such a character goes against the flow it catches our attention, and that’s the first step toward an intriguing character.

One of my favorites comes immediately come to mind.

Felicity Smoak -- IT GirlFelicity Smoak

Good old Felicity. The reason I like her so much is because in a series that’s heavy on the action, she’s not a fighter.

A computer geek and master hacker stuck with a bunch of kick-butt fighters? That’s different and unexpected, like finding a bouquet of flowers in an armory.

In addition to her adorable clumsiness and ill-timed remarks that turn into awkward humor, her unique skill set adds fascination and depth to her character.

Cultural Expectations

The warrior chick cliché is too one-dimensional. Because of feminism, it feels as if that’s the expectation, the only way a woman can survive in a world of action, violence, and superheroes. It’s the thinking that, “Let’s have a female warrior because that’s cool and we need to fight against the weak women falsehood.”

It doesn’t take a heroine cut from a specific mold to add interest to a story. In fact, I would argue that the redundant warrior chick has less to offer than say Amy Pond or Rachel Dawes, if being a warrior is the sum total of who they are, or the only reason for that is to appeal to a cultural expectation.

Is the warrior chick stereotype overdone? Do you enjoy it or would you rather see some variety, especially when it comes to action movies? I would love to hear your thoughts.


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Modern Heroines – Chicks Who Can Fight — 3 Comments

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