Category Archives: female characters

Forgotten Women of Comics #1: Moon Girl

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Ask any average person on the street to name a woman superhero or female comic book character and most people will choose Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Catwoman, Lois Lane or Betty and Veronica. Many have argued about the lack of prominent supersheroes in comics and point out that Wonder Woman is the only supershero that wasn’t a sidekick, relative, love interest or spinoff of a male superhero.

But that wasn’t the case nearly 80 years ago. Wonder Woman was just one of the many heroic female characters that excited readers – both male and female – back when America was trudging through the Great Depression, coping with the harsh realities of war and struggling with putting the country back together afterwards. Possibly inspired by the jobs women were taking up to help the war effort, publishing companies that specialized in comics came out with titles chronicling the adventures of lady heroes like The Lady in Red, Miss Fury, the Spider Widow, Pat Patriot, Miss Victory, et al; women who donned costumes to fight crime and corruption when needed. Some of those women had superpowers. Wonder Woman was among them and so was Moon Girl.

In 1947 publisher Max Gaines of EC Comics created a character that was similar to Princess Diana in many ways. She was the daughter of the queen of the fictional city of Samarkand, a matriarchy not unlike Wonder Woman’s Themyscira. However, unlike Themyscira, men were allowed to visit Samarkand and one man in particular, Prince Mengu, falls in love with Moon Girl. At first Moon Girl wants nothing to do with the prince but her mother tells her: “It is decreed that the man who takes you for his wife must first prove his superior strength!” Nevertheless the Queen gives her a necklace made of moonstone. “Once you wear the moonstone, no man will be your master!”

With the moonstone around her neck, Moon Girl easily beats Prince Mengu in a contest and the defeated prince leaves. Realizing that she actually loves him, she leaves Samarkand in search of him only to find that he’s moved to America and is working as a college coach. By now you can guess what happens next. In America, Moon Girl beats the prince in a shotputting match (thanks to the moonstone) and he realizes who she really is. But instead of getting married and living happily ever after, the couple decides to stay in the United States to fight crime. Moon Girl adopts the identity of Clair Lune and becomes a teacher.

Moon Girl and the Prince (its real title) lasted for 12 issues. Sadly, the writers didn’t know what to do with the character and the series evolved from a superhero genre to a romance comic (A Moon, A Girl…Romance) to disappearing entirely.

Until now.

Whilst browsing in a local comic book shop, I came upon a reprint of Moon Girl #3 and bought it. The comic was reprinted by Canton Street Press under their Flashback Replica Series, which are:

…exact reproductions of historically significant or key comic books from the 1940s and 1950s. Each page is fully restored with careful attention to line, work and colors. All editorial and ad pages are included. Collect the entire series!

The series includes Moon Girl #1-7. No. 3 has four stories: “Rockets For Riches”, “Sky Sabotage”, “The Spirit of Kokama” and “Moon Girl…Wanted for Murder”. The first story pits Moon Girl against the evil, emerald clad she-devil Satana, who is launching rockets at cities. The second story involves Moon Girl salvaging a pilot’s reputation. The third story brings Moon Girl back to her hometown of Samarkand to rescue her mother from the clutches of the traitorous Ka-zhan and the fourth story speaks for itself. I enjoyed reading these stories and look forward to collecting the other MG titles in CSP’s Flashback Replica Series. If your interested in buying and reading the adventures of Moon Girl, here’s Canton Street Press’s official site.

For more information about Moon Girl, see The Great Women Superheroes, written by Trina Robbins. Sadly out of print but still available to buy from Amazon! Stayed tuned for the next entry in my Forgotten Women of Comics. Who will it be???

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I Am A Queen

I am a queen.

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I’m brave sometimes,

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I’m scared sometimes.

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Sometimes I’m brave even when I’m scared.

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I believe in loyalty and trust,

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I believe loyalty is built on trust.

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I am a queen.

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I think standing up for myself is important,

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I think standing up for others is more important,

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But standing with others is most important.

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I am a queen.

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I believe caring makes me strong,

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Kindness is power,

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And family is the tightest bond of all.

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I’ve heard that I’m beautiful,

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I know I’m strong.

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I am a queen.

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Long may I reign.

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(This was made in response to Lucasfilm’s International Day of the Girl video to promote the women of Star Wars, which previously excluded Padme, but, thanks to fan demand, now includes Padme. So, in the spirit of irony, I lifted the words from Disney’s “I Am a Princess” video, to celebrate the unsung queens of Star Wars, because not enough little girls go through a queen phase.

And seriously, there needs to be a “Disney Queen” collection!)

 

 

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Thoughts On the “Wonder Woman” SDCC Trailer

 

It appears that DC is stealing the show at Comic-Con at the moment (though to be fair, there’s a lot of buzz over that “Doctor Strange” trailer and Captain Marvel casting announcement too). The one thing everyone’s talking about: the Wonder Woman trailer, of course! I watched it online four times and I have to admit it looks exciting! As I mentioned before, it’ll take place during World War 1, which I think shows creativity on DC/Warner Bros. part. Not only will it give the world the female superhero-led movie we’ve all been waiting for, it may arouse future generations’ curiosity about a long forgotten, centuries old world war.

My thoughts:

  • It’ll be released into theaters June 2, 2017. That’s one year after Wonder Woman’s 75th anniversary and 100 years since the US declared war against Germany.
  • At first, I was skeptical about Gal Godot’s casting as Diana Prince but after seeing her in action in BVS and this trailer, boy was I glad she was hired. She’s beautiful, tall, exotic, confident, athletic and I love her accent.
  • I also lllooovvvee that blue dress she wears (the one with the hidden sword).
  • I’m glad they included a scene where she meets Etta Candy for the first time and Etta (who’s British!) gushes about how much she likes her. It’s a total opposite from DC’s 2009 animated film where all Etta does is flirt with Steve Trevor and Diana thinks low of her.
  • It’s a relief to see another actress take up the mantel of WW from Lynda Carter so that future generations of fans can talk about which incarnation is their favorite. Think about it: for years Batman fans had Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale and now Ben Affleck, while Superman fans had Kirk Alyn, George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, Dean Cain, Tom Welling, Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill. Wonder Woman fans had only Lynda Carter. But I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of the 70s Wonder Woman series because it’s so dated in it’s approach to the character. If this film does well, hopefully it’ll give DC the confidence to hire other actresses to step into the boots of the Amazon Princess.

Now for my questions:

  • Who is that general played by Danny Huston that Diana is slowly approaching? Is he the main villain? Is he Ares in disguise? Who did they pick from Wonder Woman’s rogues gallery to be in this film?
  • What role will Diana’s aunt Antiope play in this film? What’s her backstory? Will she aide Diana in her mission or will she make things harder for her?
  • Will all the Germans be bad guys or will there be some sympathetic German characters?
  • Who is that woman with the partly disfigured face? I know that many soldiers suffered from extreme disfigurement due to flying shrapnel and had to undergo facial reconstruction surgery, but how did it happen to that woman? Was she a nurse in the right place at the wrong time? Did she disguise herself as a soldier? Or worse, is she a battered wife?
  • Will the film address the women’s issues of the time period?
  • What type of Steve Trevor will Chris Pine portray? I hope he’ll be a far cry from Kirk the Jerk.

And finally, here’s what I’m hoping for the film:

  • I hope it’ll be as good or better than Man of Steel in its treatment of its female characters (I feel that, so far, MOS is the most feminist superhero film to date but that’s a subject for another post).
  • I hope it’ll pass the Bechdel Test.
  • I hope the story will portray Diana and Steve’s relationship as one of equals.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

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Do As Peggy Says: Support “Agent Carter”

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So the inevitable happened: ABC cancelled Agent Carter. Why? Because of “low ratings”. How were the ratings for Agent Carter were any lower than the ratings for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a show that (according to some fans) has indecisive storylines and started off weak, yet got stronger (depending on who you ask) as seasons went on? Was it because it was given a chance? Agent Carter, on the other hand, started off with critical acclaim, broke ground and won the hearts of nerd girls (and guys) everywhere. Even the second season, which divided fans, still had much to offer and left us with a juicy cliffhanger. If the show had such low ratings then why were there two online petitions to save the show? Maybe ABC aired the show in an inconvenient time slot (Tuesdays at 9 PM are iffy for me. I often had to use Hulu to catch up). Maybe ABC didn’t promote the show enough. Haley Atwell signed on to do a different show. Have you seen the trailer yet? Ugh. Just, ugh (barf).

But let’s not just sit around and mope. We are geeks and nerds! We have the brains and the imaginations to show and spread our love for our favorite secret agent so she will never be forgotten.

1. Sign Dat Petition

You’ve heard on the internet about that petition on Change.org to continue the show on Netflix. Sign that thing.  Think that won’t be enough? Go to abc.go.com, scroll to the bottom of the page, click on contact and a new window will appear (“feedback”). Select the box that says: “Select Your Issue”. Click on “abc programming feedback”. Give them your first and last name, email address, state and zip code. Select “Marvel’s Agent Carter” for “Select Show or Category”. Then select “I like this show because” and give your reasons. Even persuade them to move the show to Netflix. Then submit. If you feel that’s not enough, write to Marvel comics and Disney and complain (I’d provide contact info but I can’t find any. If you can provide info, it would be appreciated).

2. Buycott Peggy

Her Universe has four Agent Carter t-shirts. Here they are:

 

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Teepublic.com also has some great shirts. Collect them all.

There’s also this FunkoPop! Peggy figure:

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You can buy one from Hot Topic or your local comics shop if they carry one.

Season 1 is available on DVD at Amazon.

3. Make Your Own Peggy Stuff

Do you have any hobbies? Can you sew? Knit? Make jewelry? Paint? Sculpt? Then put your talents to good use and make some Peggy-themed stuff to show off to your friends, family and fellow fans. If you want to take your Peggy love a step further, sell some of your stuff online, or at your local convention so that others will join you in celebrating the awesomeness that is Agent Carter.  I make jewelry so I plan to make some Peggy pendants using pictures printed from the internet, bezels and magic gloss (aka resins). I will display the final results on Tumblr.

So now it’s your turn. How will you express your love for Peggy and the gang? Sound off in the comments. I’d love to hear your ideas.

 

 

 

 

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10 Female Star Wars Characters That Should Be Made Into Action Figures

Aside from a post I wrote about the new Rogue One teaser and a lengthy list of belated Lucas/prequel appreciation from IMDB, I’ve been mostly silent about the direction Disney is taking Star Wars because there’s such a treasure trove of SW stuff pre-Disney. I have six films, two Clone Wars series, one Ewoks TV movie, the Legends/Expanded Universe and the Dark Horse Comics (one of these days I’ll check out those Droids cartoons). But my biggest and only gripe I have with Disney and Hasbro is the lack of diversity and quality in their action figure department. The Force Awakens is the hot item at the moment and whenever I go to Target, Toys R Us and the Disney Store, I always stop at the boys toys section to check out the latest SW action figures…

…AAAAnnnd it’s nothing but TFA, TFA, T-F-A. *Sigh*. I had to turn to Amazon to buy that Princess Leia Medal Ceremony 3.75 Black Series figure that Hasbro made but never released to stores. Phooey!

I still want detailed, articulated, finely sculpted action figures from the OT, PT, CW and Legends eras. It shouldn’t just be the Disney films that get the spotlight.

But enough complaining! What if I made a wish list of my top ten choices for female character that should be made into an action figure? Who would they be and why? Here’s my choices:

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10. Ackmena

C’mon, admit it. You thought Bea Arthur’s performance of “Goodnight, But Not Goodbye” was the highlight of the much maligned Star Wars Holiday Special. You even have it downloaded on your iPod. So why not have an action figure of the grand dame of the Tatooine cantina scene? You can add her to that diorama you made of Mos Eisley where she butts heads with Wuher over whether droids should be allowed.

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9. Guri

Bodyguard, assassin, secretary and Xizor’s most prized possession. What makes her different from the others on our list is the secret only the Falleen crime lord knows: she’s really an advanced human replica droid. Nevertheless, between her and her boss, she is the most shrewd. She’s also one of the most interesting characters in Shadows of the Empire. Since they’ve made two figures of Xizor, I don’t see why they can’t make a figure of his right hand woman.

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8. Lanoree Brock

A Je’daii Ranger and the leading lady of Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void, a novel that takes place 25,793 BBY. Just imagine owning a pre-lightsaber, sword wielding jedi.

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7. Cindel Towani

The first Star Wars spinoff film to have a female lead. If we can have young Anakin and young Boba, then why can’t we have Cindel? Honorable mention should also go to Nightsister Charal.

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6. Dorme

Two handmaiden action figures came from The Phantom Menace. It’s high time we get some handmaiden figures from Attack of the Clones. Following in the footsteps of Sabe, Dorme is Padme’s #1 handmaiden and closest confidant. One of the most memorable scenes in episode 2 is when she tearfully says goodbye to Padme. If Keira Knightly can be immortalized in plastic why can’t Rose Byrne?

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5. Queen Apailana

I have 6 Queen figures: 5 of them are Amidala and one is Queen Breha (AKA Leia’s adoptive mother). I need more queens in my collection! I want Apailana so I can compare and contrast her funeral gown with Amidala’s gray pre-senate gown.

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4. Queen Jamillia

As I said before: more queens! Plus Jamillia had a great line: “the day we stop believing democracy can work is the day we lose it.”

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3. Eirtae (Pre-Senate Cloak)

Even though Queen Amidala’s handmaidens look alike, what with those hoods and all, their robes were just as eye-catching as the queen’s gowns. They’ve made one figure of Rabe in her yellow/orange flame gown, so they should make the other handmaidens in various gowns. Eirtae should get the burgundy gown.

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2. Brea & Senni Tonnika

How they never released figures of these two is beyond me. From the first time I saw A New Hope, I wanted the Tonnika sisters as action figures. As a fan of Ancient Egypt, I was allured by their style.

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1. Tenel Ka 

In my opinion, Tenel Ka is the most interesting female character of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. I liked her the moment I met her in the Young Jedi Knights series by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. A focused, taciturn friend of the Solo twins, Tenel Ka wears many hats: as the daughter of Prince Isolder and Teneniel Djo, she’s a princess of two worlds, Queen of the Hapes Consortium (which means another queen added to my collection!), Jedi, Amazon and mother to Allana Solo. She avoided using the Force as much as possible, refused a prosthetic arm when she lost hers in lightsaber training, and her lightsaber hilt is a rancor’s tooth! So Hasbro and Lucasfilm, if your’re reading this, get to work, on the double!

Now it’s your turn. Which female Star Wars character would you like to add to your toy collection? Sound off in the comments.

 

 

 

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You Must See “Advantageous”

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Watch out – spoilers about.

“The Best Sci-Fi Film of 2015 is Here – And It’s Not ‘Mad Max'” read the headline of a Business Insider article one summer day.

Whaaaat?!  You mean to tell me that MM:FR wasn’t the only SF film released this year that dealt with feminist themes? That another filmmaker, a woman named Jennifer Phang, also wrote (along with actress Jaqueline Kim) and directed a movie about a woman’s struggle against an unfair society (note: this is not to say Mad Max: Fury Road is a bad film. I enjoyed it very much. But it shouldn’t be the only sf film to address feminist issues. We need more films like this and Mad Max)?

Yes, Advantageous, starring Jaqueline Kim and Ken Jeong, is about a future where the economy is in decline, jobs are hard to find, a good education is achieved by the lottery instead of enrollment, a majority of the homeless population is female and infertility is at an all-time high. But unlike Mad Max, which shows us a desolate post apocalyptic wasteland, this unnamed futuristic city by all appearances is pleasing to look at. One of its citizens is Gwen Koh (Jaqueline Kim), a Korean-American woman who works at the lucrative Center For Advanced Health And Living as a spokesperson. All she wants in life is to give her only daughter (Samantha Kim) a bright future. She will stop at nothing to make sure Jules gets into the most prestigious school in the country…

But there’s one problem: she’s about to lose her job because the company wants a new spokeswoman who’s younger and more “racially ambiguous”. The only employment she can get at her age is that of an egg donor. This is laughable because Gwen is only in her forties and is a very beautiful and intelligent woman.

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There’s only one other solution for Gwen. Try out this new experiment where she can transfer her consciousness into another body. However, for a year she will have to deal with constant pain and take shots to help her keep breathing. There’s also a more serious side effect that’s not revealed until later in the film.

Before undergoing the procedure, Gwen visits her estranged cousin, Lily, (Jennifer Ikeda) and her husband, Han (Ken Jeong) for help. It’s at this moment in the film we learn of Gwen’s dark secret: she and Han had an affair years ago and he is Jules father. Gwen has been able to stay out of their lives since then, but now she needs them more than ever but Lily refuses because she and Han have children of their own.

After their last Christmas together, Gwen and Jules pick out a body and Gwen undergoes the procedure. Due to the success of Gwen 2.0 (Freya Adams), customer demands for the procedure have skyrocketed.

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But not all is successful for Gwen’s and Jules’ relationship as mother and daughter. Gwen 2.0 can’t seem to rekindle that emotional bond with Jules she had before the transfer. Her memories are slowly fading away as Gwen’s original consciousness ceased to exist during the procedure. There’s no way for them to continuously transfer her old memories into her new body. To all extents and purposes, Gwen Koh is dead.

But not all is lost. Lily and Han have seen footage of the new Gwen, had a change of heart and decided that they will help her and Jules after all. They decide to meet at the park for a picnic where Jules will meet her “new”, extended family for the first time.

In an age of genre films where big budget special effects, explosions, violence and fast paced storytelling have become the norm, Advantageous feels like a breath of much-needed fresh air. It doesn’t have any action sequences (The only action scene in the entire movie is where a flying “car” crashes into a building as an act of terrorism. The only reaction is one of weariness from the characters because terrorism has become too commonplace). It’s not loud and boisterous. It’s quiet and reflective. It takes its time. You also have to really pay attention to “clues” as to how this society works. One scene has Gwen sitting in the park talking to her mother on the phone. She notices a teenage girl in the distance wearing a strange mask. Behind a tree she changes her clothes. She takes off the mask with a different identity. Is this a mask sold by the Center For Advanced Health And Living? Is changing one’s appearance the norm?

In the hands of a lesser filmmaker, the story would’ve devolved into some “conspiracy thriller” where Gwen would’ve confronted the company she works for, demanded her old body back, possibly at gunpoint, transferred back into Gwen 1.0 and lived happily ever after. You won’t find that here because it would undermine the message of the story. There’s no sex and very little profanity. Most importantly, it uses the future to warn us about the present. After all isn’t that what science fiction is all about?

Another refreshing aspect of the film is its diversity in its cast. There’re only four men with speaking roles and most of the cast is made up of women of different ethnic backgrounds. Unlike others who’ve done nothing but criticize Hollywood for lack of inclusion in genre films, Phang and Kim, took the initiative and made their own sci-fi movie where the protagonist wasn’t a white male. Most of the main cast is of Asian descent, yet their problems are not related to a specific cultural identity. But most importantly the film uses science fiction to address  current issues relating to women’s rights which is why it’s just as good as Mad Max.

Maybe even better.

Winner of the 2015 Sundance Special Jury Award for Collaborative Vision and only available on Netflix. 

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Gwen (Jaqueline Kim) and her daughter (Samantha Kim) enjoy a quiet moment.

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Jennifer Ehle plays Isa Cryer, the head of the Center For Advanced Health And Living.

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Of Dinosaurs and Dames: A Feminist’s Take on the Jurassic Park Franchise – Part 1

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On Tuesday June 23, I finally went to see Jurassic World, bracing myself to see if all the sexist accusations I’ve been hearing non-stop were true.

And all I have to say is: it could’ve been worse.

The arguments are that this current installment “ruins” the “progressiveness” of the series. Especially when it comes to the characterization of the most important female character in comparison to the character of paleobotanist Ellie Satler from the first film.

I think either some of these people have been wearing the nostalgia googles for too long or they haven’t paid much attention to the series .

Is the Jurassic Park franchise really that “progressive”? I’ve always had issues with the way women are portrayed in Steven Spielberg’s movies. They’re either forgettable, non-existent, or just plain problematic (why no one else notices this is a mystery to me). And Jurassic Park is no exception. Sure Dr. Satler (Laura Dern) was an expert in prehistoric plants, she examined triceratops poop, she made quips about “sexism in survival situations” and “dinosaurs eat man, woman inherits the earth”, faces off against the first velociraptor seen in the film and lectures Hammond about the futility of the park.

Buuuutttt, there’s that one scene that’s always irked me. The one where she wants Ian Malcolm to explain his “chaos theory”:

How could she not tell that Malcolm was flirting with her? Heck, he flirts with her the minute he meets her and he only stops after he learns that she’s romantically interested in Dr. Grant (back off she’s taken!). If I were in that situation, I’d have given Malcolm a roundhouse kick to the groin.

I once read in The Making of Jurassic Park that the writers did not want to make her “a Sigourney Weaver type”. I kind of wish they did. I like Ellie but I wish she had been a bit more rough around the edges and more professional-minded. She doesn’t have to be an Ellen Ripley clone but she could come close… she does share the same name after all… (I will also take this moment to say that she’s never been the star of any JP sequels and her story ends up with her becoming a wife and mother with no clue given about whether she’s still working as a paleobotanist.) Another question I’d like to ask is if she’s a paleobotanist, what’s she doing at a dinosaur excavation? Why was she invited to give her expert opinion on Jurassic Park when the film never confirms whether she’s a dinosaur expert or not? Because she’s Dr. Grant’s girlfriend? Couldn’t the screenwriters make her the paleontologist and Allen Grant (Sam Neill) the paleobotanist? Just saying.

Then there’s that other problem with the second most important female character in the movie:

Lex, Lex, Lex. Why did you turn the damn light on? And why did it take you forever to turn it off! You should’ve listened to your little brother. He’s the dino expert, remember? Your stupidity nearly got you and Tim killed, you put Dr. Grant and Ian in danger and had to get lost in the woods with said doctor and brother. You made a bad situation worse.

Now let’s look at JP Problem No. 3 in the hotly contested sequel, The Lost World. Raise your hand if you remember Dr. Sarah Harding. Anyone? Anybody? I didn’t think so. All I remember about her is that she was played by Julianne Moore. Why is she such a forgettable character? I’m not going to list her faults. Tv Tropes will do the honors. And let’s not forget that she never even bothered to remove her bloodstained shirt knowing that mama and papa T. rex will recognize the smell of their baby’s blood!

Moving on to JP Problem No. 4. Two Words: Kelly Malcolm.

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My problem with this character has more to do with her ethnicity than her gender. Are we supposed to believe that Malcolm, played by the Jewish Jeff Goldblum, could have a daughter with skin that dark? Yes, I know what you’re going to say: “maybe he married a black woman”. Yes, I get it. I’m the daughter of a white man and a black woman myself but there’s no way any child of an interracial union would come out looking like that. She would’ve looked more like Zoe Kravitz or Rashida Jones or Maya Rudolph, not Vanessa Lee Chester.

I also know what some of you might be thinking: “maybe she was adopted, maybe she’s his stepdaughter”. If she was the film would’ve said so.

JP problem no. 5 (note: I like this film more than The Lost World but it does suffer from the Smurfette Principle):

Miss Amanda Kirby (Tea Leoni)? I know you want to rescue your son, but tricking a respected paleontologist and his protégé into joining you on an expedition to an island ruled by deadly reptilian giants and then not listening to his expertise is not cool. You also come across as a selfish jerk in your behavior. You can’t even drive a car without crashing it! You’re only awesome moment was when you handed those stolen eggs back to the main mama raptor.

So how does Claire Dearing of Jurassic World measure up to the aforementioned women? Find out in part two!

 

 

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