Page 1 of 5 12345 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 65
  1. #1
    Mighty Member mathew101281's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    1,596

    Default Gender politics: Tropes of characterization and depictions of female heroes

    Tropes I notice

    1. Female Superheroes never have male spinoff characters or sidekicks.

    2. Female Superheroes rarely if ever date regular people. (Except for Wonder Woman, which you will fine is the exception to a lot of these tropes.)

    3. Truely evil female villains on the level of say Darkseid or the Joker are rare. Most female villains are squarely in the "bad but not that bad," category.

    4. Most Female superheroes with super strength are derivatives of male heroes.

    5. On super teams, female heroes tend to either be the telepath, the elemental, the projectile specialist or the healer. In short all the roles that don't involve giving and receiving punches.

    6. All female heroes are pretty, even the ones you wouldn't expect to be. Etc. She Hulk.

    This thread was inspired by a comment I saw in another thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sutekh View Post
    And gosh, why is it all boy superheroes and their girlfriends. Have any superheroines had serious relationships with 'normal dudes,' is it only the super-dudes who 'date down?'

  2. #2
    BANNED
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    3,839

    Default

    I see none of these as a bad thing.

  3. #3
    Astonishing Member Old School Ollie 1962's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Tacoma, WA.
    Posts
    2,417

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mathew101281 View Post
    Tropes I notice

    1. Female Superheroes never have male spinoff characters or sidekicks.

    2. Female Superheroes rarely if ever date regular people. (Except for Wonder Woman, which you will fine is the exception to a lot of these tropes.)

    3. Truely evil female villains on the level of say Darkseid or the Joker are rare. Most female villains are squarely in the "bad but not that bad," category.

    4. Most Female superheroes with super strength are derivatives of male heroes.

    5. On super teams, female heroes tend to either be the telepath, the elemental, the projectile specialist or the healer. In short all the roles that don't involve giving and receiving punches.

    6. All female heroes are pretty, even the ones you wouldn't expect to be. Etc. She Hulk.

    This thread was inspired by a comment I saw in another thread.
    Some people are perfectly fine with stereotypes and clichés. While others work tirelessly to shake up the status quo. I tend to support the latter of the two.

  4. #4
    Spectacularly Neurotic Sharkerbob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    1,264

    Default

    1. Female Superheroes never have male spinoff characters or sidekicks.
    The closest thing to a "distaff counter part" I can even think of might be the Darkness for Witchblade, and that's a stretch.

    2. Female Superheroes rarely if ever date regular people. (Except for Wonder Woman, which you will fine is the exception to a lot of these tropes.)
    LOL. Art imitates life, amirite? Only other heroines I can think of are Power Princess (who's just a WW knock-off) and one of her teammates (Zatanna knock-off I think), recently Faith from Valiant (an obscure, short-run book), and Ultra (an indie mini-series character, and the guy turned out to just be tricking her for tabloid bait).

    5. On super teams, female heroes tend to either be the telepath, the elemental, the projectile specialist or the healer. In short all the roles that don't involve giving and receiving punches.
    Hmm... well... it's more common that they're the energy casters, but I feel like there's been plenty of super strong women on teams. Especially with DC.

    Let me see if I can think of anything else.
    Last edited by Sharkerbob; 08-07-2017 at 01:07 PM.

  5. #5
    Spectacularly Neurotic Sharkerbob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    1,264

    Default

    My own observations:

    1. Strong female characters express how strong and independent they are by being stand-offish and/or insulting to men, and assuming other women need their protection from men. Not exclusive to comics of course.

    2. Female characters must make a point about they are female, and must show up or violently defeat a male, who of course does not believe women are capable, even when they have powers. Because the idea of women being able to do things is still this amazingly innovative, brand new idea that no previous generation has ever conceived of. Also not exclusive to comics.

    3. Women are often still in a minority in most hero teams, with men outnumbering women, even when some of the men in question are not even human, but are robots or beast people. Classically, most teams with five or less members will have exactly one female.

    4a. While it's true that women in teams tend to more often be the artillery and support units, they are also by virtue of their powers much more versatile and have much greater potential power. Marvel seems to have the most examples in some line-ups of the X-Men, Avengers, and Fantastic Four. The male heroes are limited to physical abilities or single-focus energy powers which don't see much development, while women with energy powers keep finding new ways to grow their control, range, and power output, and psychics keep unlocking new ability after new ability.

    4b. And yet, female superheroes also seem more likely to become corrupted by their growing powers, or get taken advantage of/mind controlled by evil forces as they're power develops.

    4c. Because of this, women tend to more often be used as Plot Devices in and of themselves, as sudden massive power spikes or sudden bursts of sanity/freedom, enable them to help save the day in the end, when their team is in trouble.

    5. This is not gender specific, but superheroes sleep around. A LOT. Seriously, it's like you can't do a superhero story without some kind of love interest/sexual tension thing, even if only for one scene. However, since the 90s, it seems impossible for most heroes to stay in a relationship for more than five issues. Ergo, the heroes will get attached to whoever happens to be part of their story, assuming the book has time to go into it, almost as though any given male and any given female can be assumed to be in a couple if they appear together on the cover.

    Okay, this doesn't always lead to sex, and in fact, often just seems to lead to sexual tension, but the implication is of a sort of too-casual hook-up culture. But anyway, because most comics tend to have male heroes as the title character, this tends to mean that they get around with the ladies in the hero community, because like James Bond, they keep running into different ladies in different adventures. The conclusion seems to be that if you're a female superhero, and you guest star in a male heroes book, he's getting into your pants.

    Would the same thing happen if female heroes dominated the title-character roles? Who knows. Make of it what you will.

    And yet, come to think of it, I've never seen any heroes slut-shaming any other heroes over their constant round-robin hook-ups. Is it a positive and progressive portrayal of healthy sexuality? Or is it corrupting the minds of our impressionable youth towards polyamory, rock-and-roll, and the smoking of pot? You decide!

  6. #6
    Fantastic Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    The NEW Classic Comics Forum: http://classiccomics.org
    Posts
    366

    Default

    Somebody did some research about these issues: http://pudding.cool/2017/07/comics/

    "Analyzing the Gender Representation of 34,476 Comic Book Characters"

    "Three out of five comic book characters have at least one superpower, regardless of gender. When we categorize these powers, we find that there are some clear gender imbalances."

    Lots of data there, about superpowers, team memberships, and gendered names.
    --
    The new home of the Classic Comics Forum community: http://classiccomics.org

  7. #7
    Mighty Member mathew101281's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    1,596

    Default

    I mention it cause these cliches could be a reason why female characters have such a hard time catching on. Telepaths and energy wielders, tend not to be great solo heroes because they are either to powerful, which means really difficult to challenge on a monthly basis. Or their to one note,( I blast things).

    The not dating normal people thing, pretty much amounts to female characters not having much of a personal like outside of being a superhero. Could you imagine how boring Spiderman would be with out the Peter Parker elements of his life. It's one thing if some female heroes were all about being a hero full time, but its pretty much all of them, which leads me to believe their is something else going on here.

    I've talked about the anti-heroization of female villains on this board before. Essentially I feel its tide to the need to make female characters attractive. If a character is too evil she stops being attractive after a while, so it caps how evil a female character (who almost always has to be attractive for some reason) can be. Characters like the Darkseid, or Joker don't have to be attractive so they are aloud to grow into their role as truly evil. Meanwhile female villains who gain any level of popularity start an almost predictable path towards being an antihero. Think about Catwoman, bonified anti hero at this point. Amora the enchantress, more villainous then Catwoman, but still prone to helping the good guys out way more often then a certified villain should. Mystique, has actually been an Xman almost as much as she's been an enemy of the Xmen. You have to go to Wonder Woman's rogues (again the great exception) to find any female villains of note that are truely evil.
    Last edited by mathew101281; 08-07-2017 at 05:12 PM.

  8. #8
    BANNED
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    5,445

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mathew101281 View Post
    Tropes I notice

    1. Female Superheroes never have male spinoff characters or sidekicks.

    2. Female Superheroes rarely if ever date regular people. (Except for Wonder Woman, which you will fine is the exception to a lot of these tropes.)

    3. Truely evil female villains on the level of say Darkseid or the Joker are rare. Most female villains are squarely in the "bad but not that bad," category.

    4. Most Female superheroes with super strength are derivatives of male heroes.

    5. On super teams, female heroes tend to either be the telepath, the elemental, the projectile specialist or the healer. In short all the roles that don't involve giving and receiving punches.

    6. All female heroes are pretty, even the ones you wouldn't expect to be. Etc. She Hulk.

    This thread was inspired by a comment I saw in another thread.

    Most of these bother me VERY MUCH except for #6. I mean, I'd never complain about all the male heroes being fit and handsome, so I see no reason to be upset about the females being attractive either.

    But at least there appears to be some progress with #1 as Wonder Woman has a son coming to an alternate timeline sort of story. It's something I've been banging the drum for. And I don't think he's formed out of clay either. He's made the good 'ol fashioned way, as far as I know! So pleased if it turns out to be the case.

    http://community.comicbookresources....ture-Wonderboy

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank View Post
    ...is travelling from the future in JLA?


    Attachment 49679

    JUSTICE LEAGUE #26
    Written by BRYAN HITCH • Art by FERNANDO PASARIN and OCLAIR ALBERT • Cover by BRYAN HITCH • Variant cover by NICK BRADSHAW
    “LEGACY” part one! A group of heroes from a post-apocalyptic future escape into the past to stop their world from coming to be. But to do it they’re going to need the help of the Justice League—who just happen to be these time travelers’ parents!
    On sale AUGUST 2 • 32 pg, $2.99 US • RATED T

  9. #9
    Spectacularly Neurotic Sharkerbob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    1,264

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mathew101281 View Post
    I mention it cause these cliches could be a reason why female characters have such a hard time catching on. Telepaths and energy wielders, tend not to be great solo heroes because they are either to powerful, which means really difficult to challenge on a monthly basis. Or their to one note,( I blast things).
    Fair point.


    The not dating normal people thing, pretty much amounts to female characters not having much of a personal like outside of being a superhero. Could you imagine how boring Spiderman would be with out the Peter Parker elements of his life. It's one thing if some female heroes were all about being a hero full time, but its pretty much all of them, which leads me to believe their is something else going on here.
    I brought this up in regards to another point about supporting casts, but I think this ties in with it. A big part of this could be the tendency towards almost every notable superhero characters being on teams. Even ostensibly solo books usually have other heroes guest starring or there's multiple sidekicks or whatever. Back in the day, solo heroes needed normal, non-powered civilians around in order to interact with, or else who the hell would they talk to, and where would there personal drama come from? As you say, Spider-Man without Peter Parker is a much less interesting character.

    However, when you have whole teams of heroes, the other superheroes are now each others supporting cast. Any civilian supporting casts are quickly reduced to barely-occuring cameos that pop up seemingly just to remind you they exist, and then all the superheroes continue to hang out together. As I mentioned in the other quote, take the DCAU. Lois Lane was a huge part of Superman the Animated Series. But in Justice League, she gets, like, one scene in the entire show. If it wasn't Lois of all people, you could probably be forgiven for forgetting she even existed by the end of the Justice League series.

    So now, tie this in with the fact that there are very, very few female heroes who manage to have a sustained solo series. It would seem that the majority of female superheroes start off on teams, or as side-characters in male solo heroes adventures, ergo, they've had very little chance to establish a civilian life in the comics, and instead just fall into being another hero on the team. I mean, these days, most heroes that aren't the classic characters all seem to be dating other heroes anyway, because everyones just on a team, and they're meeting their potential dates through work.


    I've talked about the anti-heroization of female villains on this board before. Essentially I feel its tied to the need to make female characters attractive. If a character is too evil she stops being attractive after a while, so it caps how evil a female character (who almost always has to be attractive for some reason) can be.
    And here I thought they were attractive, because a sexy woman is clearly up to no good! :P

    Also, male gaze, or whatever.

    Characters like the Darkseid, or Joker don't have to be attractive so they are aloud to grow into their role as truly evil. Meanwhile female villains who gain any level of popularity start an almost predictable path towards being an antihero. Think about Catwoman, bonified anti hero at this point. Amora the enchantress, more villainous then Catwoman, but still prone to helping the good guys out way more often then a certified villain should. Mystique, has actually been an Xman almost as much as she's been an enemy of the Xmen. You have to go to Wonder Woman's rogues (again the great exception) to find any female villains of note that are truely evil.
    I think you can make a case for the idea that, thematically speaking, evil women are another form of "damsel" to be saved by a noble and upstanding male hero, who will free her from darkness with the power of love.

    You might also be able to make a case for the instinctive and cultural assumption that a woman can never truly be a bad person. In real life, people will fall all over themselves to find excuses for female criminals, especially if their victims are men. People are shamed if the bring up the toxic aspects of femininity. Women are assumed to automatically have a nurturing and more compassionate nature that will prevent them from doing things it is assumed men will do easily. Ergo, there is probably some desire, conscious or subconscious, to be unwilling to accept the idea of a woman being capable of primordial evil on the level of someone like Darkseid.

    I do think it is worth pointing out, however, that male villains will also get the anti-hero treatment if they are considered cool or attractive enough. Venom was a completely fucked up psychopath when first introduced, and yet he was so popular in the 90s that they turned him into a "Lethal Protector" who was somehow still a crazy killer who still had it out for Spider-Man, but now he killed people "who deserved it" so he become the protagonist of his own long-running series. See also, Spike from Buffy who was a total monster who was just too popular and pretty to kill off, so they keep him around as an anti-hero so he could be part of the gang, if indirectly. And probably the most recent example, Loki. Fifty years, this guy's been one of the most unrepentant villains of the Marvel Universe, then the movies make him popular, and pretty, and now he's like a boy hero trickster or something.

    It may just be that female villains have a higher tendency to become anti-hero, because they become popular, or they want to promote strong female characters, but the villains are more interesting than the heroes since, as you said, the female heroes are less likely to have the struggles of private life making them interesting.

  10. #10
    Mighty Member mathew101281's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    1,596

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Star View Post
    Most of these bother me VERY MUCH except for #6. I mean, I'd never complain about all the male heroes being fit and handsome, so I see no reason to be upset about the females being attractive either.

    http://community.comicbookresources....ture-Wonderboy
    Do you consider The Hulk, Cyborg, martian man hunter and Beast to be attractive? The Hulk/She-Hulk comparison to me is the best rebuttal to the whole, "Men are drawn just as attractive argument."

  11. #11
    Spectacularly Neurotic Sharkerbob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    1,264

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mathew101281 View Post
    Do you consider The Hulk, Cyborg, martian man hunter and Beast to be attractive? The Hulk/She-Hulk comparison to me is the best rebuttal to the whole, "Men are drawn just as attractive argument."
    Some versions of the Hulk could be considered attractive by some standards. Mostly thinking the "Professor" incarnation. Cyborg, too, if you look past the metal bits. But that was probably not the intent, whereas attractiveness does seem to be one of the foremost concerns when designing a female character.

    But, I mean, there are plenty of women who also like to see beautiful women. I kind of doubt women being beautiful is what's turning away readers, male or female.
    Last edited by Sharkerbob; 08-07-2017 at 06:32 PM.

  12. #12
    Ultimate Member Gray Lensman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Posts
    6,802

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mathew101281 View Post
    Do you consider The Hulk, Cyborg, martian man hunter and Beast to be attractive? The Hulk/She-Hulk comparison to me is the best rebuttal to the whole, "Men are drawn just as attractive argument."
    Those characters are still the exception rather than the rule - like Marrow (initially) and Amanda Waller. You'll find more exceptions among the male characters, but you'll also find more male characters to begin with.

    Anyways, on to the list.

    1 - this is partially a result of there being far fewer female characters - especially early on. I remember reading that part of why Marvel made a Spider-Woman was because they were worried a competitor would do it if they didn't. Can't think of a female hero with a male sidekick though, unless you count Steve Trevor to Wonder Woman - he's the closest I can think of.

    2 - Mostly true, although Ms. Marvel was dating a regular person (and last I knew still has feelings for him).

    3 - None have really taken off, although Marvel does have Hel, and DC has/had Lady Styx. Far fewer than the male versions, but still some do exist.

    4 - Maxima and Liberty Belle (at least the second version) from DC, Frenzy and Sif from Marvel, besides the slew of knock-offs/derivatives.

    5 - It's even a trope on TV Tropes. Guys Punch, Girls Shoot.

    6 - see above. There are exceptions, but they are more rare.

  13. #13
    BANNED
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    5,445

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mathew101281 View Post
    Do you consider The Hulk, Cyborg, martian man hunter and Beast to be attractive? The Hulk/She-Hulk comparison to me is the best rebuttal to the whole, "Men are drawn just as attractive argument."
    There's something to be said for the Hulk being so muscular that he's actually ideal. I mean, I imagine he's the favorite character or maybe even an idol to a lot of men who spend their lives in the gym pumping iron. He also embodies that "you wouldn't like me when I'm angry" idea that I believe most men believe about themselves. He can be an outward manifestation of what men believe they can be when someone pisses them off. So Hulk's image is very "attractive" in a way, to men.

    Cyborg, on the other hand, is a character who - in my opinion - is a racist creation. In an age when superheroes for african americans were in even shorter supply, we got someone who wasn't even a whole man. He could have easily had his technology concealed on the inside, but NO. He was nothing to aspire to be, and I feel like that was the point in his creation. And DC still hasn't done enough to correct the problem with his character. They trot him out there as the lone black member of the justice league knowing he's a castrated, mutilated man. I don't think he should even be part of the argument.

  14. #14
    Fantastic Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Posts
    475

    Default

    The thing with Cyborg was that he was never attended to be the top black guy.His most popular appearance (the teen titans show) used him as metaphor for the disabled.
    Last edited by Baseman; 08-07-2017 at 07:43 PM.

  15. #15
    BANNED
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Posts
    5,445

    Default

    The Teen Titans show did a wonderful job of making Cyborg a really likeable and sympathetic character. But no one wants to be him. And that's a problem when you put him next to Batman, Superman, the Flash and Wonder Woman.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •