It’s time for another exciting tag piece, courtesy of perhaps one of the internet’s greatest female heroes, Heather from Just Geeking By. She has tagged me, very kindly, in this latest challenge, a series of enlightening, interesting and engaging questions all about the fairer sex as represented in geek culture!
Let’s get to work gang!
Question 1 – Name a heroine you like, but whom you feel is always overshadowed by the male characters in the story
For an answer to this question, we must jump onto a big ole Man-o-War and head off to the Caribbean of the late 18th century. That’s right, it’s the stellar Black Sails, a tale of piracy, political chicanery, sea battles and one of TV’s finest theme tunes.
The cast of Black Sails largely male, famous pirates from history and fiction like Charles Vane, Blackbeard, Long John Silver, and the excellent Captain Flint. But the series also has some excellent female characters whose destinies are sadly sometimes overshadowed by the boys. My favourite of these is Eleanor Guthrie, daughter to the governor of Nassau, the headquarters of the loosely affiliated pirates. During the course of the series, Eleanor takes control of Nassau for herself and, using only her political wiles, manages for the longest time to keep the power-hungry pirates at bay.
The disappointment comes around in the final series, where Eleanor is married off to Woodes Rogers, the new British governor who has taken the Bahamas by force and, from there, she sadly takes something of a backseat to the boys and their big, masculine rage.
It’s a shame, really, as everything about the series was perfect! Justice for Eleanor!
Question 2 – For that matter, name a heroine whom you feel is always overshadowed by the other female characters in the story
For this one, it’s time to delve into the pretty and deceptively dark world of Final Fantasy IX, to visit my 2nd greatest JRPG character (if only there was a list for that), Freya Crescent.
Among IX‘s super strong cast of lovelorn thieves, rebellious princesses, jobsworth knights and black mages with mysterious pasts, Freya would surely keep up. She’s a dragoon knight, a cool rat lady and is forever searching for her lost love, Sir Fratley. Plenty there to work with there in an 80+ hour game, right?
Well, nope. Freya’s story starts out strong, we’re with her as she witnesses the destruction of her home and the genocide of her people, which hits bloody hard! We even get to meet Fratley, though he has lost his memory and tragically has no clue who Freya is! There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to Freya but, straight after the destruction of Cleyra, when the gang infiltrates Alexandria castle to rescue Princess Garnet from a rather unpleasant fate… it’s all forgotten.
Freya is still there, still takes part in the quest to save Gaia but, ultimately, has no more character development sent her way at all. What a waste!
Question 3 – Name a character who had potential but was greatly underutilized in her story
I’ve already railed on the frankly criminal underutilisation of Freya, so who else can I come to the defense of?
What about Steve Roger’s next door neighbour/undercover minder Kate from Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War? We’re first introduced to Kate when we find out that Cap has a bit of a thing for her and asks her out for coffee upon bumping into her in the hallway. Later on, after much action, intrigue and Hail Hydra-ing, we find out that, shock horror, she’s a SHIELD agent planted to keep an eye on America’s Ass himself, on account of the fact that SHIELD is kinda infested with baddies who’d rather Steve didn’t find out and punch a whole lot of them in the face. Not only that but Kate is actually Sharon Carter, niece of his WWII love interest Peggy Carter..whaaaat?
As it turns out, Sharon ends up being really cool, putting her life on the line to back the big guy up when he infiltrates SHIELD HQ at the end. In Civil War they even share a kiss (much to Falcon and Winter Soldier’s delight), but other than that poor Shazza doesn’t really get to do much else! Maybe she’ll reappear at some point and sort out some more baddies? I sure hope so!
Question 4 – Name a female character who you either find better in her book than her movie, find better in her movie than her book, or whose portrayals you find equal
This one may split the audience a bit, but I much preferred the character of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games book over Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal in the movies.
In the books Katniss is described as a scruffy, skinny 16 year old kid who’s used to living in the rough forested region of District 12. Her description fits the setting and backstory well. Movie Katniss is in good physical shape, always pretty well turned out and definitely not 16. I’m not saying that Lawrence does a bad job, she acts the Hell out of it (silly screamy noises and all) but the character doesn’t quite fit the author’s original vision, you know?
Question 5 – Name a character who you want more backstory on
Let’s jump back into gaming for this one, specifically JRPG darling, Final Fantasy VII. All of the ladies in VII are pretty fleshed out, right? Tifa, Aeris and Yuffie we learn plenty about throughout the course of the game, sure, but what about those that stand with the opposition?
Elena, of Shinra Inc’s shady intelligence department, the Turks, has the potential to be a really fascinating character. She’s headstrong, loyal to her fellow Turks Reno, Rude and Tseng and pretty formidable in combat. Sadly, that’s about all that we know!
Stop mucking about with this remake, Square Enix, and give us some Elena backstory!
Question 6 – Name a character with traits you feel are sadly overlooked by everyone
You know who debuted with some mad skills but has barely used 50% percent of them since?
Yep, poor Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch from the MCU. Initially encountered as an antagonist in Age of Ultron, along with her cool (and so wasted) brother Quicksilver, Wanda sows chaos among the Avengers using her gift of mind-trickery to turn Tony Stark/Iron Man to set him down a dark path that ultimately leads to the creation of the titular automaton and Big Bad of the movie.
After an interesting midpoint reveal, Wanda and her brother end up fighting for the good guys, saving the day and giving Ultron a good sorting out. In the following movies, however, her massively OP skills of mind-trickery are nowhere to be seen! Sure, she still has her incredibly powerful telekinesis/energy powers, but surely she could have mentally reprogrammed Thanos to batter himself to death at the end of Infinity War, would have solved a lot of problems, wouldn’t it?
That… may not have answered the question, but it needed to be said!
Question 7 – Name a morally grey character. (Villain or anti-hero!)
Resident Evil’s Ada bloody Wong.
First showing up in the guise of an FBI agent in Resident Evil 2, Miss Wong goes on to become one of the series most trotted-out characters. Initially teaming up with rookie cop Leon, she claims to be looking to destroy the deadly G-Virus that has turned the city into an undead hell, only to turn heel upon finding it and revealing that she’s just a classic, out-for-herself mercenary instead. Presumed dead in the chaos that follows after, you can bet your ass that Capcom instead dragged her back, again and again, forever being desirable to Leon, morally dubious as heck and the unparalleled master of passing people missile launchers to blow up final bosses with.
I’m not a massive fan of Ada personally, but she fits this question so perfectly and has quite the following elsewhere!
Question 8 – A character you’re stunned isn’t more famous
For this particular question, I am going to nominate Rosie from Valkria Chronicles. Real name Bridgette Stark, Rosie is a bar singer who is pressed into service for the Gallian militia when the neighboring Empire decides to ignore their plea of neutrality and invade the peaceful nation.
If you’re looking for a strong character arc, they don’t get much better than Rosie. She is initially suspicious, abrasive as racist as heck, having no time for the black-haired, pale skinned Darcsen people who have settled across Gallia. But, as the story goes on and she sees first hand just how life is for these people, she begins to thaw and, by the end of the game, is a very much matured character who would put her life on the line for any member of her squad.
She’s also kick-ass with a sub machine gun/flamethrower combination, which is definitely a big bonus!
Question 9 – A character from a piece of fiction you’re amazed isn’t more famous.
For my final answer, let’s head off to the Moscow of the late ’90s, setting of the frankly amazing Night Watch series of books by Sergei Lukyanenko. In this universe magic does exist, along with vampires, werewolves and the like, but is governed and kept secret by various “Watches”, essentially divisions of supernatural police that spend as much time scheming against each other as they do keeping magical ne’er-do-wells off the streets.
One of the main characters of this series is Olga, who we first meet in the form of an owl, her punishment for past transgressions. Olga is actually highly ranked in the Night Watch and is centuries old (when we first meet her in human form, she is dressed in WWII Red Army gear, as she was turned into an owl around that time).
Olga is not only an extremely powerful mage, she is also lover to the Night Watch’s head, Gesar, and a pretty standup girl and team player, often helping protagonist Anton with his troubles.
Seriously, give this series a read, it’ll blow your mind! Don’t watch the movies though, they are… pretty bad.
And there we go, that’s that. I admit this one took me a while to write, there are so many excellent ladies in geekdom, so choosing just a handful was very hard work, but hopefully I have done it justice.
Who are your favourite women in fiction? Why not let me know in the comments, I do love a good discussion!