Life requires a lot of bravery. Being yourself, falling in love, daring to do something meaningful with your life—these are all things that require a good deal of courage to do.
I know this is true, mostly because I spent a good portion of my life crippled by fear.
Thankfully, I’ve managed to overcome a lot of it, and I’m grateful for the influences in my life who have helped me to do so.
Since I’ve got my alt-historical spy adventure sequel, Prince of Secrets and Shadows (Book 2 of The Order of the Crystal Daggers) coming out in a few short weeks, and my steampunk fantasy romance One Flew Through the Dragon Heart soon after, Jake’s given me the chance to gracious tell you which female heroes shaped my life, and, just for fun, some of my least favorite ones.
My favorite female superheroes:
1. My Mom: My mother is not a superhero, and I know for a fact she would be equally appalled at the thought of wearing skin-tight leather and shooting a gun, but she’s the kind of hero I would want to be—a reliable and caring lady doing her best, for herself and her family, to live well in a fallen world.
My mother raised me and my sisters while working a full-time job I know she was far from passionate about, volunteered at our church, kept the house clean (despite my rather sloppy efforts to “help”), and still juggled her own interests.
There’s no one who will love you like your mom. That’s something I learned straight from my own mother, and something I hope will not get twisted into a horror-movie-like reoccurring motif in my life as I raise my own children.
2. Sailor Moon (and the Sailor Scouts!) For more superhero-superheroes, the earliest superhero I idolized was easily Sailor Moon.
I grew up in the 90s, and I remember running home after school, breathless, just to catch episodes of Sailor Moon.
The 90s was a great time for Girl Power (this was also the era of the Spice Girls, need I remind you, and I would give any modern-day Swifty a run for her money in my devotion to the Spice Girls. I can remember to this day thinking how cool it would be crash my car 17x in less than 3 months just because Ginger Spice did it – YES, REALLY).
Sailor Moon was great. The klutzy, caring Serena Tsukino was perfect as the reluctant leader of a team of pretty soldiers setting out to defeat the forces of evil with magic and moonlight, all in the name of love and justice. Her awkwardness was complemented with the determination to be herself, even if that meant stuffing her face with ice cream and bawling in the middle of the street, and I think every girl yearns for that combination of self-confidence and peer-acceptance.
Along with Sailor Moon, there was the brainy-girl Amy who wanted to become a doctor; the fiery Raye, who managed a Shinto temple with her grandfather; the tough fighter and tender-hearted Lita; and the beautiful and dutiful Mina. Each sailor had a personality that made it easy for girls to find a favorite.
To this day, I love astronomy, and most of it begins with my love for Sailor Moon. I was outraged when Pluto was demoted, citing that Sailor Pluto had already had a hard enough life.
When eBay became big, and I could use a credit card online (I’m pretty sure this was before Paypal was even remotely popular), it was the first thing I bought—the entire collection of Sailor Moon DVDs.
As an adult, I still think it’s a great series, if a little needlessly bogged down by repeated sequences and catch-phrases—but then, I also have that criticism of Paw Patrol, which my kids watch and love.
3. Batgirl: I want to start this explanation by adamantly declaring a lot of my childhood love is tied to nostalgia. Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl in the George Clooney Batman & Robin movie made me smile as a kid, and even today, I let my own kids watch the movie and I still smile. (It’s not a poorly written film so much as it’s off-tone with the rest of the franchise, I think). Barbara was a street racer with a computer degree, a devotion to family, and I liked some of the other animated films with her character in them. I felt like she was a good match for Dick Grayson’s Robin. And as far as Batman and Robin is concerned, I think Uma Thurman is still great as Poison Ivy, too.
1. Kagome Hirgurashi (Inuyasha): Long before we had Katniss Everdeen, Kagome was my go-to favorite archer-girl. Inuyasha took my high school years by storm, and I remember setting my alarm on my first phone to get up at 3 AM to get up so I could watch it. I recently rewatched the series when my family got a Hulu subscription, and it is still a fun fantasy show.
2. Misty (Pokémon, before the series got Groundhog Day Syndromed): Yep, another anime, sort of. Misty was tough on the outside, but still sweet enough on the inside to carry her Togapi (an egg Pokémon) around in nearly every episode. After having kids, I think my back would hurt. I consider it a travesty that she did not get her own spin-off.
3. Mulan: I never counted her as a Disney princess, and I imagine a lot of people don’t count her as a superhero. I thought it was too weird to do so as a kid, even if I thought she was cool, and as an adult, I know why. Her story arc follows the Hero’s Journey structure, and not a traditional princess journey like Faith Moore, Jake, and I talk about in our Disney Princess Extravaganza.
My Least Favorite Female Superheroes:
1. Black Widow. Yep, I’m a hater. Black Widow is, I think, the worst sort of female superhero. She’s treated exactly like a man in the Avenger movies, except when she’s dressed in something skimpy or tight (like her model pictures from Iron Man 2). She’s very skilled at what she does, but it seems that she’s one of those types of characters who is more concerned with “the job” than who she is. Everything we learn about her is connected to her work. I think the added element of her sort-of relationship with Bruce Banner in the Avengers Age of Ultron was supposed to “humanize” her some, just as the fact that she’s been sterilized was supposed to “dehumanize” her by her trainers, but it just made me hate her more. I have no reason, as a regular woman, to identify with her, other than that she’s a woman. If they wanted me to like her, she could at least have some kind of interest outside of her work. Like, maybe I would like her more if she collected snow globes or if I knew that she was an avid comic book reader.
If she got her own spin-off, I would not waste my time with it.
2. Supergirl. Yep, I’m a hater here, too. She always seemed kind of like a dumb blonde to me, someone who needed to be reined in from her natural compulsions. Of course, I thought Smallville made Clark seem a bit dumb, too. The current Supergirl show has some good action and character development, but I still think it’s “meh.”
3. White Canary. I cheered when she died in Arrow. I’m a terrible person, I know. It was the “Shiro Reboot Tactic” (which is my term for when people make reboots and they try to be too clever when they rewrite the characters. I KNEW as soon as I saw season 3 of Voltron: Legendary Defender they were going to have 3 versions of Shiro, since the Japanese/American show version had two Shiros. I saw it coming!). I hated Sara’s Black Canary in Arrow, and her reappearance in Legends of Tomorrow just made me roll my eyes. Bad writing, bad character, no real reason for it.
Also, If you’re going to resurrect someone, I can think of plenty of others who are better people!
C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles series, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Check out her books on Amazon.
Note from Jacob: I rarely have guest posts, but CS Johnson and I are good friends and I could think of no one better to write this up (though I do disagree with her on Black Widow.)
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below and tell me about your thoughts on your favorite female heroes. While you are at it, check out this article on the film Chappaquiddick. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.
By the way, did you miss my book announcement? Check it out.