​It's Been A Bad Week For Strong Female Characters

I think I've finally discovered what caused my mysterious, unknown apocalypse. I believe the illness known as "con flu" — in which one sick person at a con basically makes every attendee sick — mutated in some way to affect everybody that even thought about Comic-Con this week. Because I feel like shit. But not as bad as my first letter writer…


The Other Woman

Amy G.:

WHY HAS GAME OF THRONES DROPPED ARIANNE MARTELL?!!!!!! She's one of the books best characters!!! I don't believe this is some kind of misogynist conspiracy by the show but why would they not cast her?!!!

First of all, the casting isn't done yet. I promise. Second of all, Arianne is one of A Feast for Crows/A Dance with Dragons most-important characters — why on Earth would the show omit her character? In fact, she's such a major character that it seems likely — as my buddy the brilliant Sean T. Collins pointed out — that they probably want a more established actress for the role, which means the contract could be taking more time, hence the delay.

The main reason people seem to be freaking out is the new cast description, which lists Trystane Martell as Prince Doran's heir, when in fact Arianne is next in line for the crown, as Dorne allows women to rule. Calling Trystane "heir" seems to be making people think that Arianne won't exist in the show. I don't think the two are necessarily bound up with each other. I can't think of several reasons why the show has turned Trystane into the heir, not least of which is that it raises the stakes on Myrcella's plot, seeing as they're supposed to be married.

But no matter what, I think Arianne is almost certainly on her way. I'll eat one of GRRM's sweaty hats if I'm wrong.


The Other Other Woman

Amy G.:

AAAAAAA WHY HAS ANT-MAN DROPPED JANET VAN DYNE SHE'S A FOUNDING MEMBER OF THE AVENGERS SHE EVEN NAMED THE AVENGERS THE AVENGERS WHY WOULD MARVEL SCREW OVER ONE OF ITS BEST FEMALE CHARACTERS AND THE BEST FEMALE AVENGERS?!!!!!!!!!!!

I see you are interested in this subject. Well, as a Janet/Wasp fan, I am pissed about this. But I'm pretty sure I know how the decision to cast Evangeline Lily as Hope Van Dyne, the daughter of Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne, was made, more or less ruining any chance of the Wasp joining the Avengers.

1) Marvel wants to make an Ant-Man movie. They quickly realize the trouble-making Scott Lang character is better suited to a movie and a comedy than stuffy scientist Hank Pym.

2) Scott Lang clearly can't make the Ant-Man suit, which requires the use of Hank Pym. But Hank can't be another young man like Scott, because then it begs the question why Hank doesn't do all the heroics. So Hank becomes an older man, more of a potential father figure to the main character. Sure, this negates Hank Pym joining the Avengers later on, but that's fine, especially since Iron Man is the guy who has ended up creating Ultron.

3) Next, Ant-Man needs a love interest. The daughter of the scientist is a well-used trope, mainly because it gives a beautiful lady an easy reason to be involved and interested with the plot. So we need a daughter of Hank Pym…

4) Here's where it gets weird. Basically, I figure Marvel realizes they have a choice, to cast Evangeline Lilly as Janet or Hope. They assume fans will completely freak out if they try to pair Janet with Scott Lang romantically, since she and Hank are one of Marvel's main couples (and they're right). They decided it's better — and more specifically, that fans will be less upset — if they use the little-known, alt-universe, A-Next daughter of Hank and Janet, Hope Pym, for the romantic lead opposite Scott. What could fans complain about with that? No one cares about Hope!

5) So with the best of intentions — and with misguided attempt at minimizing fan outcry — they relegate Janet to Hope's mom, who happens to die in a lab accident. Of course, they don't realize that killing off a major female character in such an off-hand way is actually more galling than turning Janet into Hank Pym's daughter somehow and having her fall in love with Scott Lang, and here we are. However, in Marvel's defense, had they decided Janet was going to be Scott love interest, fans would absolutely be freaking the fuck out.

Marvel was damned if they did damned if they didn't, but unfortunately they chose the "damned" where they killed a major and beloved superheroine basically off-screen. And it sucks, because the Wasp really deserves to star in an Avengers movie. I guess theoretically Evangeline Lilly can join the Avengers as Hope, but it's not going to be the same to comic fans.

Mass audiences won't care, though. And we comic fans will still go see the movie, no matter how pissed we are about Janet. And eventually Marvel will announce a Black Widow movie and maybe finally a Captain Marvel movie and show that they support strong female characters and people will be happy. And Janet will still be dead until 2040, or whenever Marvel decides they need to reboot the Cinematic universe and give her another chance to exist.

Sigh. The sad truth is that if I had to pick between the Wasp joining the movie Avengers and Captain Marvel, I'd pick Captain Marvel. Maybe one day we'll just get superheroines on screen without feeling like someone is picking and choosing, but today is not that day.


​It's Been A Bad Week For Strong Female Characters

Shallow End of the 'Pool

Ian J.:

Why does Fox keep taking the fucking Deadpool footage down? What do they stand to gain? If they're not making the movie, why not let us see it? And if they are making the movie, well, what's the problem with us seeing it then?

I don't know. Big companies are insane and the bigger and more bureaucratic they are, the more ridiculous they act. There's literally no harm that comes from letting people watch the Deadpool test footage — in fact, given how badly everyone wants to see it, you could quite reasonably say that it's drumming up a great deal of interest in an actual Deadpool movie, which could make Fox a few hundred million bucks one day.

But when Fox was originally thinking about making a Deadpool movie, this test footage was considered top secret, to be hidden from the public's eyes. And even though a Deadpool movie has been put on the back-burner — and Tim Miller's potential Deadpool movie probably canceled outright — no one in the bureaucracy of Fox has thought about or bothered to make this footage that people obviously want to see declassified. Someone decided it couldn't be released, and that's the rule until some executive bothers to rescind the order — despite the fact there's no harm, and despite the fact there's a potential benefit (in gauging and raising interest).


​It's Been A Bad Week For Strong Female Characters

Cold Dystopia

HP Hatecraft:

Superheroes and Dystopias are two of my all time favorite genres and for the longest time I've wanted to do a story that combines the two, but I can't really seem to come up with an idea that feels right. I mean if I have a Dystopian society and the hero is a masked vigilante fighting the system then isn't he just a masked freedom fighter? And thinking of the flip side is even harder; I mean can you even have a hero who supports a Dystopia? Would they really be a Hero then?

Now usually when I bring this topic up with other comic reading friends someone mentions V for Vendetta, and while this is certainly a brilliant story I've never thought of it as a superhero story. To me V has always been less of a Superhero and more of an eccentric hero who happens to wear a mask. Of course this also leads to another question I've had which is what exactly defines a character as a Superhero as oppose to a regular fantasy or action Hero?

Sorry if this seems a bit jumbled but it's one of those things that's bothered me for a while, and I can never seem to accurately convey to people. Got any ideas?

Let me answer the easier question: What differentiates a superhero from a regular hero? Well, not to sound like a dick, but something that makes them super. Powers are generally the answer. And before someone starts railing about Batman, let's acknowledge that Batman does essentially have superpowers — his incredible and absurd technology, and a brain that can deduce and prepare for any contingency. Batman may technically be a regular human, but he's the best human at pretty much everything — that is a superpower unto itself.

As for dystopian superhero stories: Judge Dredd comes instantly to mind. He's supporting a very questionable state, but he arguably doesn't have superpowers, much like V for Vendetta. The world of The Dark Knight Returns is pretty terrible, and Superman fights for it while Batman fights against it. Then there's Mark Millar's Red Son, where Superman crash-lands in Russia as a baby and basically turns into a super-powered, communist Big Brother.

That's off the top of my head. Surely the commenters have a few more suggestions that can add…


​It's Been A Bad Week For Strong Female Characters

Required Reading

Avi G.:

Hello great Postman:

Recently, Josh Trank's upcoming FF movie came under fire when it was said it wasn't going to adhere very closely to source material. Yet, in an interview on This Week in Marvel Zoe Saldana said she didn't read comics to prepare as Gamora, yet nobody has a problem. How much should an actor need to research a comic book movie role, and upon who is the onus of sticking to source material, if it's even necessary anyway?

I don't think it's necessary. Do you think the stars of Avengers read the "Age of Ultron" stuff to prepare for Avengers 2? Do you think Christian Bale read any comics for his three Batman movies? Maybe Robert Downey Jr. read some Iron Man comics to prepare for the first Iron Man movie, but whether he did or didn't, he went ahead and acted like Robert Downey Jr. and it was perfect.

Moreover, do you really think there's any Fantastic Four comics that she could read that would show Kate Mara the "truth" of Sue Storm? A storyarc that is absolutely essential to her performance? And the same is true with Zoe Saldana's Gamora. I sure can't think of any. I'd rather the director and screenwriters read the comics, so they get a general sense of the character dynamics and general appeal than I would worry about any of the actors.

I'm not saying that actors should NEVER read comics. I mean, if a movie is going to be based on a specific comics story — say, like The Wolverine was based on Frank Miller's Wolverine comics — then there's surely some benefit in Hugh Jackman seeing how Wolverine handles that situation. And maybe for lesser known characters — like, I hope if/when someone gets cast as Captain Marvel they take the time to read Kelly Sue DeConnick's awesome CM comics — I think they could genuinely learn a lot about the character.

But I can't get upset that Saldana and Mara didn't check the source material before their roles. I think they've got it.


​It's Been A Bad Week For Strong Female Characters

Take a Bike

Ron S.:

Shouldn't every traveler in The Walking Dead be riding a bike? Not motorbikes, regular bicycles? They don't require fuel, they can handle all kinds of terrain (pick a mountain bike), if you reach an obstacle you can pick it up and carry it over, they're way faster than walking, you can attach a trailer to one and haul your stuff… and if you blow a tire or it fails in some way you find another one, because they're friggin' everywhere. You live in the post-apocalyptic future – how do you get around? I bet one can of Spam it's by bike.

Sure, bikes don't require gas, but they require energy. Saving gas doesn't do you any goddamn good if you're too tired to escape from a horde of zombies once you get there. Also, bikes don't offer the protection of cars — you get too close to a single zombie while you bike past, and you're basically delivering yourself to it like a human pizza.

Besides, Bikes only make sense if you live in a place that has places you can bike reasonably to. The survivors of The Walking Dead have generally avoided cities to hole up in farms and prisons and so forth, which, thanks to America's general sprawl, are likely many miles from towns, cities, gas stations, any place that might furnish supplies. Even if the group was holed up in a place with a grocery store a couple of miles away, eventually it would be emptied, and they'd need to move further out to look for more supplies. And eventually they'd be traveling 5, 10, 15, however many miles to get what they need — too far to bike and have any chance of surviving a zombie horde, if one happens to encounter one.

Now, if you're in a city, where a variety of supplies and shelters are close together, then yeah, a bike makes a ton of sense. But that's not the TWD crew.


Wrath of Con

Jon L.:

Is it me or did San Diego Comic-Con suck this year?

If it's you, then it's me too. The biggest, coolest thing out of the con — well, the biggest, coolest thing that the companies allowed the general public to see — was the Mad Max: Fury Road trailer. Now, the trailer was indeed awesome, but here's what we technically had to look forward to: Batman V. Superman, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Dr. Strange, Shazam, Justice League, and about a million Star Wars movies and things. And Mad Max ends up being the headliner? That's sad, is what that is.


Do you have questions about anything scifi, fantasy, superhero, or nerd-related? Email the postman@io9.com! No question too difficult, no question too dumb! Obviously!