This is something that I’ve thought about a lot, as I wrote about here
I’ve also seen some people write about how, for once, Lois Lane is not just a damsel in distress (and a really lousy reporter for not noticing how much Superman and Clark Kent look alike — when I was growing up Lois had noticed this, but was continually bamboozled by Superman when she tried to prove it).
I can imagine a young Jan Sleet, aspiring intrepid gal reporter, tossing aside a Superman comic book to go back to reading a book of Sherlock Holmes stories.
Which, of course, reminds me of this.
Anyway, it is cool that Pepper got to kick some butt in the last Iron Man movie, as I guess Lois does here, but they’re still second bananas (or, in Pepper’s case, a third banana). If this is the “feminist action movie of the year,” then that’s a pretty sad commentary on the rest of the action movies this year.
Of course, there is the female superhero who is nobody’s sidekick. In the last Resident Evil film the hero, hero sidekick, villain, villain sidekick, child in danger, and evil supercomputer were all female. And none of them were doing what they were doing because of anything to do with their gender.
Way back when, in the Doom Patrol comic book, there was a character named Crazy Jane. She was a cool character, with multiple personalities which each manifested a different superpower. But, as I was reading about her month-to-month, I knew that, inevitably, it would be revealed that she had been sexually abused as a child. Which, of course, turned out to be the case.
Not that you can’t write good stories which go in that direction, but when a reader can see it coming a mile off, and then it gets closer and closer, and when it finally arrives it looks exactly the way you expect it to, that’s no good. As Duncan Ellis said recently, “There is a principle in agile software development of using the simplest solution to a problem that could possibly work. That may be OK for a first draft of a story, but the simplest thing may turn out to be too obvious to the reader, or to distract from the point the story is trying to make, or to just be a cliché.”
Crazy Jane was still a great character, but a big opportunity was missed to create an origin story which was as original and exciting as she was.