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Homage to the female superheroes we grew up with

This image released by Disney-Marvel Studios shows Brie Larson in a scene from

This image released by Disney-Marvel Studios shows Brie Larson in a scene from "Captain Marvel."  

As ‘Captain Marvel’ — set in 1995 — powers through theatres, we pay homage to some of the female superheroes with whom we’ve grown up and the politics they battle

Through the two hours and five minutes of Captain Marvel, we aren’t thinking about how the extra-terrestrial superhero maintains her blonde waves in near-perfect symmetry, nor are we pondering how she stays so fit (fighting crime with a fair amount of physical force will do that). Rather, we watch with bated breath as Captain Marvel (pronounced Mar-vell) adapts to life on Earth while dealing with anti-imperialist politics in outer-space and observing 90s humans’ progression towards pluralism while beating enemies down.

Shakti Comics by Raj Comics

Shakti Comics by Raj Comics  

While Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman leaps thousands of feet and Halle Berry’s Storm conjures up tornadoes, a lot of these feats have mediated how we perceive such heroes while pondering the politics they battled.

Anyone who grew up reading Raj Comics, and still does, will say ‘a-ha!’ at the complexities with which Shakti deals. Despite being born of mythology and imagination, she sets a precedent of the ying-and-yang in society — that we need both evil and good for a functional rationale in society.

To the screens

If we’re examining ancient times, we have to talk about Xena, an iconic leader who was continually showing a proverbial middle finger to a brand of toxic masculinity present in this fantasy-laden ancient Greece. Originally appearing as a villain, the standalone 90s show Xena: Warrior Princess revolves around the titular character, portrayed by Lucy Lawless, who’s now reformed and grappling with the balance of good and evil, as well as the gender equation in her time. Those with a keener eye will note that Xena’s views on masculinity and feminism are typical to that of the 90s, which inevitably butt heads with those of the backward society of ancient Greece — whilst also tossing them on their heads like they’re weightless.

Lindsay Wagner’s as Bionic Woman

Lindsay Wagner’s as Bionic Woman  

The Bionic Woman set the tone for empowered women in the 70s, with the titular character played by Lindsay Wagner. While there obviously wasn’t a huge scope for computer-generated graphics, Bionic Woman’s strength was always conveyed through the strength with which she used her superbionics. The Second Wave is Feminism was the zeitgeist of the 70s, with suffragist leader Alice Paul front-lining an equal rights movement for sexual liberation of an open show of strength. With skills like super-hearing and speed, she triumphs over the ruling patriarchy which resonated with fans then and with new audiences now.

Lynda Carter as ‘Wonder Woman’

Lynda Carter as ‘Wonder Woman’  

Same goes for Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman, who’s a lot more vocal towards the atrocities of man. Coming from a world where women are practically gods, the Wonder Woman of the 70s wasn’t used to men opening doors for her, nor did she ever get used to it. While Gal Gadot’s portrayal is more low-key due to the missions at hand, there’s something just irreplaceable about this TV show.

And whether you like it or not, we just have to get campy since we’re getting geeky. And campy means Buffy. Both Sarah Michelle Gellar and Kristy Swanson’s portrayals dealt with a much more complex combination of politics: of high school and of the supernatural world.

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy in TV series ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy in TV series ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’  

Audiences of the film and of the successful television show (which is getting a reboot as we speak) found themselves empathising with the complexities of a girl gifted with superhuman strength as part of a greater prophecy, all while wanting to live a normal high-school life. But the truth of it all is that Buffy can’t live a normal life, and she’s empowered by that, rather than letting it hinder her as a woman and as a fighter.

Halle Berry as Storm in ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’

Halle Berry as Storm in ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’  

Who can omit Storm? She not only revolutionised the soccer mom haircut, but she did it while summoning lightning so quickly, it probably disconcerted Thor himself. Coming from Egypt as shown in X-Men: Apocalypse, Storm is the woman of the epoch, looking to the shift in political climate — pun very much intended — of pluralism and progressivism to template the future.

Notably Storm’s body language changes over time, and by X-Men: The Last Stand, her movements are a lot more calculated and minimal (while the impact of her powers aren’t lessened) to correlate with the growing resistance to mutants.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 12:59:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/starship-hangar-i-need-a-throwback-superhero/article26496080.ece

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