Warrior women—from Wonder Woman to Elektra to Xena to Ripley—have won a die-hard fan following among women in the last decade because, in addition to being sexy, they are strong, in control, smart, and successful. Lara Croft may have originated as pure male fantasy—a buxom video game character with impossible proportions—but on the big screen, she is, as one critic put it, “erudite, well-traveled, a working photojournalist, and goes home at night to a house worthy of Architectural Digest.” Wonder Woman may have been bound in images of pure male fantasy through much of her early career, but she transformed herself into a feminist icon of the 1970s and has risen as a formidable member of the male-dominated Justice League. When compared to the Joker, Two-Face, and other psychopaths in Batman’s deadly rogues’ gallery, Catwoman seems tame—but by no means is she docile. Wielding a whip with a “cat-o’-nine-tails,” the cunning Catwoman, "with her pugilistic prowess and catlike reflexes," as Michael Eury likes to describe her, becomes a fierce combatant when cornered or challenged. Despite her creators’ attempts to reform her over the years, she remains one of comicdom’s strongest antiheroines.
As superheroines have appeared front and center in all facets of the popular culture—more so in the twenty-first century as women have embraced superstrong characters such as Elektra, Huntress, and Sarah Connor—they have become mean, lean, killer machines.
Critics are starting to note that it is too simplistic to dismiss contemporary comic books and their depictions of women as unrealistic or sexist. In the most provocative storylines, beauty is more than physical appearance, it always involves inner strength and moral fortitude. And, extremes of the superheroine as sex object aside, over the past half a century superheroines have revolutionized their way from one-dimensional sidekicks and/or love interests to multidimensional uber-vixens.
Everyone has a favorite superheroine. Tell me who engages you and why.
Causes Gina Misiroglu Supports
Doctors Without Borders, American Cancer Society, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund