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  • Harmony Holland

An Analysis Of The Female Superhero

By Harmony Holland

Women superheroes, or villains, are those who people seem to love, yet many of them have only just had their own films. For example, Black Widow has been in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films since Iron Man in 2008 where she was spying on Tony Stark, and has only recently been given her own film.

Black Widow is an example of how women can be sexualised within Superhero films. She is constantly seen as a beautiful woman, who a lot of men want to enchant. Even Tony Stark wants to try, when she was spying on him there was more then one occasion where she was looked at and dressed in a sexual way. Her whole persona is sexualized and she uses this to her advantage, she is an assassin as well as an Avenger. Her back story is horrible, it was one of torture that led her to living the life she did. Let’s not forget that this character is seemingly dead as of Avengers Endgame, which is even more heart breaking. Black Widow is a good example of how women are sexualised, within their character as well as their clothing, she wears a skin tight black suit that seems to be on the impractical side for the kind of work that she does. However, she pulls it off and looks amazing doing it. She can easily be a role model, she stands up for herself and shows that women can be as dangerous as men in films, it shows she stands up for what she believes in as she leaves the life of being an assassin behind and becomes a lifesaving Avenger.

Then there’s characters such as Harley Quinn, she is an example of someone in a very toxic relationship who changes herself completely for a very bad person because she was abused which is something that shouldn’t be endorsed. Her character is highly sexualised from the makeup, to her hair and especially her clothes. She is always dressed in a mini skirt or a dress of sort. She’ll also sometimes wear a collar for the Joker, to show she is his property. This reinforces a sexual representation of women, due to the clothing and the collar. It is outdated for women to be treated like property and it has no place in the 21st century. However, Harley Quinn is also a good role model in some ways, such as in her film ‘Birds of Prey’ she had broken up with The Joker, and everyone that she had wronged came for her, she stood her own and fought back without the so-called protection from her boyfriend. Therefore, showing that women can stand up for themselves without a man’s protection. Harley Quinn is a good character, but she can also misrepresent women in the DC comics.

Also, there’s Captain Marvel who is a different female superhero as she was a hero before she got any superpowers. She shows young girls that they can be pilots in the Air force, or known in England as the Royal Air Force (RAF) as in the 1990s it wasn’t often that women were found in the Air Force as a pilot. Therefore, she is a role model, she also helps those in need when they need it and she then stays to protect them from the evil that is trying to get rid of them. However, she is also sexualised by her being manipulated by a man who wants to use her for his own gain, and again by her costume. Its skin tight and one you wouldn’t think would fit a superhero. She is a role model despite being sexualised as this is not to the same extent as other female characters.

Many female superheroes are still sexualised to a massive extent, the tight costumes, the cleavage showing and the hair and makeup are always looking beautiful. Why is this? These costumes are impractical and show a lot more then men’s costumes seem to. Men get roughed up, their hair is out of place yet women’s’ hair never seems to be. Therefore, some are good role models, others aren’t brilliant role models and it can be agreed by many that most female superheroes and villains are largely sexualised.

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