Comics / Spotlight

Women and Entertainment

By Hervé St-Louis
April 1, 2007 - 12:20

The saying goes that behind every great man that there is a great woman. This should be updated to say, behind every great project, there is a great woman. Women are part of everything humans do and the reason why The Comic Book Bin is dedicating an entire month to them.

The Girl

Years ago, in an old Marvel Year in Review, or some magazine like that, I read a description of the Fantastic Four that went like this. The Fantastic Four are, the fearless leader, the monstrosity, the young hot head and, the girl . . .  Sue Richard, the Invisible Woman was only relevant because of her sex. And of course, she dated one of the three men, while another one on the team was partially jealous of the guy.

Over the years, she has been captured so many times by villains as a bait to attract the other Fantastic Four that she literally became a damsel in distress, until her powers were reexamined and she was given more importance in the team. Yet, I still don’t know who Sue Richard is. I don’t know what makes her special as a person, as opposed as the woman of the Fantastic Four.

The same can be said for various other female leads in the entertainment industry. Recently, several people have complained about the role Storm of the X-Men has been playing since marrying the Black Panther. Has she become his sidekick or does she really share the comic book with him? Was the wedding a forced event to unite two of Marvel’s longstanding heroes? Will the pairing survive? Will Storm survive?

The pairing of women characters with a male lead is frequent in entertainment. Hawkgirl was for years, Hawkman’s sidekick. Although she started independently and took over Johnny Thunder’s own comic strips, Black Canary was reinvented as the girlfriend of Green Arrow. It took years for the character to recover from this association, and it seems that DC Comics will reignite it again.

A Male Clone with Breasts?

When female characters are not attached to males, they are often just feminine versions of them. Supergirl, Batgirl, She-hulk, Ms Marvel, Mary Marvel, were all clones of male characters. Sure, they evolved beyond their male counterparts in most cases, but the tie that binds them still exists. If it were not for their associations with a male doppelganger, they would not be as popular.

Creating original women characters that are strong on their own and independent has always been a problem. Wonder Woman, the best known original comic book woman, keeps on getting redefined. No matter what they try, DC Comics’ writers have problems making her anything but a superwoman. What originally defined her was her gender. Although she has a personality, if Wonder Woman was turned into a man, she would no longer be relevant to DC Comics. I don’t feel that there is anything about Wonder Woman, as a character that makes more than being a woman.

Perhaps it is the formulaic nature of niche entertainment that makes women’ gender their only defining traits? However, this is not true. There have been strong women in which have eclipse the popularity of their male collaborators. For example, Death, from the Sandman’s comic book series, was, in the 1990s more popular than her brother. She had a definite personality.

The Virgin and The Temptress

Women are often expected to play specific roles in entertainment. They are often, either pure and motherly or temptresses of men. Often they are portrayed as tough or soft. It seems that there is no middle ground. There is, and thanks to women who work in the entertainment industry, the portrayal of women is changing beyond being defined by their relationships with men.

Exploring women in niche entertainment, will take more than one article to do justice to this large topic. April, is WOMEN’S MONTH AT THE COMIC BOOK BIN. As well as looking at fictional women, we’ll also engage in discourse with real women who work and are entertained by comic books, action figures, video games, fan films and movies. This is such a large topic that it could go on. To help our visitors identify all articles related to WOMEN’S MONTH AT THE COMIC BOOK BIN, they will sport this particular icon, in the summary pages of our site. I encourage you, our readers to send us your feedback about how we can better highlight women, at The Comic Book Bin.

Last Updated: February 5, 2023 - 09:06

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