Where were my women who were forced to learn that with great power comes great responsibility? Where were my awkward school girls who were just trying to graduate high school when they found they didn’t need their glasses anymore, but could lift a school bus one-handed? Where were the funny best buddies? It’s not as though we can all be Lara Croft. Yet for a long time, she was all we had: if you were a woman, you had your place, on one end of the spectrum or the other. Why, I still ask every single time the movie is on TV, is it Kick-Ass and not Hit Girl?
Then the recent Marvel films arrived. Pepper Potts came along in her business-wear and skyscraper Louboutins and was unstoppable in her rise to CEO of Stark Industries. Black Widow slunk onto the scene and showed us that we don’t need to choose between sexy and dangerous. Jane Foster, the astrophysicist genius, still blushed when confronted with Thor’s overwhelming good looks, just the way the rest of us would, while Darcy Lewis was as concerned about her iPod as she was about the faceless government organisation behind its theft.
Maria Hill reached the very top of the male-dominated SHIELD organisation, Sif is a fully-fledged goddess of war, and Peggy Carter was a sharp-shooting, red lipstick-wearing female officer at the frontline of WW2. These aren’t the cardboard cut-out women of action movies gone by. They’re more than the girlfriends or relatives or unobtainable dream girls, more than pawns for a hero’s man-pain. They’re definitely more than a gorgeous yet robot-like tomb raider with a penchant for dressing in clothes that are so often inappropriate for the weather.
They’re you, me. The boss you want to be someday, the academic your friend aspires to. The student who just wants to listen to music and have fun. The women who can do battle, run Fortune 500 companies, wield tasers and drive questionably. Girls who can show fear but fight against the bad guys anyway, who flirt just for fun. The brainwashed Russian superspy assassin. (OK, so maybe not that last one. Then again, we do all have that one friend we wonder about.)