February 28, 2010

Female Supervillians; and Superheroine movies

Someone went and wrote an article about why we should have more superheroine movies. (Yes, this means a link. Why the Comic-Book Movie Industry Needs a Female Superhero.)

I can't claim to pass any judgement on some of the movies mentioned (Elektra, Supergirl: The Movie) as I haven't seen them, but I did like the Catwoman movie. Sure, it wasn't a bit like the Batman Catwoman, but it was Catwoman! Yay! (except for the outfit. Bleah.) The movie had a nice strong individualistic feminist message, and an interesting historical twist on the whole concept of a "catwoman" (regardless of the fact they completely messed up the Egyptian Mau bit).

It could have been worse. They could have had the character a) brainwashed b)mind-controlled or c) whatever was up with that Tim Burton version; but in a weird messing-with-your-mind thing. This was a bit of the point made in the article. The writing for the female characters is bad; it's not that people don't want a superheroine movie, it's that they don't want a bad superheroine movie.

Halle Berry's Catwoman didn't need someone to push her out a window to get started (well, ok, she kind of did), she didn't need guys around to do stuff, she didn't even need Batman (regardless of how cool Batman really is). Sure, she had that cop guy, and the old lady with all the cats, but quite a bit of it was stuff she did on her own. So yay Catwoman/Selina Kyle/Patience Phillips/whoever.

This whole "it could have been worse" thing was my sole problem(s) with GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra. My brother's problem was that the war everyone was in wasn't Vietnam and all the characters backstories were changed. My problem was the Baroness.

The Baroness is a Russian noble who does evil stuff because she likes doing evil stuff. There's no two ways about it. She also had an interesting on-again, off-again relationship going with Destro. She didn't need rescuing. Usually GI Joe needed rescuing from her. She was more of a relatable character for me than Scarlett or Lady Jaye, mostly because both of them had various romance stuff going on.

The movie Baroness was Duke's old fiance. She got brainwashed/mind-controlled by her supposed-dead brother (who eventually becomes Cobra Commander) to do evil stuff. She was a bit of a whore, honestly. She married the Baron under orders, acts a bit slutty with him (but technically they're married, so...), then is all hard-to-get with Destro. Apparently she was fighting the whole mind-control craziness. I'd be mostly OK with all the previous stuff. If she had defeated the mind-controlling on her own, then she'd still be the Person To Be Feared. No one else was able to throw off the mind control. But she has to wait for Duke to show up and be all "Anna! I know you're not like this! Come back to me!" and has to wait for her brother to be almost mind-controlling him to finally throw it, and even then she gets handicapped. Duke has to carry her out. They get in one of those submarine things MARS has lying around. This was a potential opportunity for the Baroness/Anna to show her stuff. But no. She sits in the backseat all "Oh, Duke! Thank you for saving me! You're such a manly man! I couldn't do it without you!"
That's when I stopped caring about the Baroness. That was not the Baroness I saw on the movie theater screen. That was some random plot/romance device that the writers cooked up as an ill-concieved subplot.

My other problem (quite a bit smaller) was with Scarlett. She had a great "I can do it better than you" thing going on at the beginning. I could have gone with the "Emotions are illogical" bit she had going later too. Ripcord kept trying to hit on her, which completely was not working, and they had a nice friendship-bonding scene after the Baroness and Storm Shadow came and stole the briefcase with the bomb codes in it. Then they all got to the Cobra/MARS base and suddenly she's kissing Ripcord. This marks the point I stop buying Scarlett. They completely turned around a perfectly good character for another ridiculous romance subplot.

Incidentally, I have issues with some other characters, too. Rex/Cobra Commander/Anna's brother was some random character, presumably made to try and explain the Baroness's idiotic characterization. Duke annoyed me to no end. He was the "new guy who's perfect at everything". I liked Ripcord, but what got to me was the line "When we average your scores with Duke's, you pass". GI Joe are supposed to be the best-of-the-best; not the best (worse) of the cliches and his sidekick. I really like Snake Eyes, but he got beat by Duke and Snake Eyes is the resident Super-Ninja. He is the SUPER. NINJA. He should not have been beaten by Duke (the embodiment of the most annoying cliche ever: guy who's best at everything). Storm Shadow was the other Super-Ninja, and I liked the Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow dynamic. I would have liked Dr. Mindbender better as the guy in Rex's role (I actually thought Rex was Dr. Mindbender until they had the reveal/flashback scene in the ending). Destro was good. Zartan was pure genius. Heavy Duty was a bit of the "big African tough guy" stereotype. If they wanted a "big African tough guy", they should have used Roadblock. Then we could have a "big African tough guy" who occasionally speaks in rhyme. General Hawk wasn't really in the movie enough to have any characterization. I liked Breaker a lot.

I just realized how much I disliked the characterization in this movie. Also: wow, this is such an off-topic rant.

I guess it accomplished the point, though. Bad characterization=not a good movie.

So, to recap:
Catwoman: Win
Scarlett: Fail
Baroness: Fail
Hawk: Works
Snake Eyes: Win
Storm Shadow: Win
Duke: Fail
Ripcord: Works
Breaker: Win
Heavy Duty: Works
Rex/Cobra Commander: Fail
Dr. Mindbender: Fail
Destro: Works
Zartan: Win

Movies that I would like to see:
Another Catwoman
A Legion of Superheroes Movie (so many good characters to choose from, so little time...)
A good Supergirl one
Birds of Prey/Oracle/Black Canary (any/either one)
Another Batman
A Runaways movie
and some others I'm sure I'm forgetting....

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