Jump to content
  • Screw Wonder Woman: The Defenders Is The Feminist Superhero Series We've All Been Waiting For


    Countess

    The Defenders in promotional art for the television series 2.pngWonder Woman in a promotional image for the film 2.jpg

    When Wonder Woman was released early this year, I'd venture to say that 90% of the rhetoric surrounding it had to do with its feminist nature. Whether reviewers were arguing for the movie's very obvious agenda, against the whitewashing of its lead character or analysing every single thing to do with the film's costumes, makeup, or characterisation, it seems that all roads led to feminism. It's a discussion that undoubtedly had to be had, even if it got tired somewhat quickly.

    Which is why it's somewhat surprising that the superhero event of the second half of 2017, Marvel's Netflix show The Defenders, hasn't been given the same treatment. An otherwise average superhero show, The Defenders excels at its portrayal of women, both when it comes to just how many are on the payroll and when it comes to their characters treatment on the show.

    The Defenders in promotional art for the television series.jpg

    For those who didn't know, The Defenders is the culmination of four (soon to be five when The Punisher is released) series that Netflix has been slowly but steadily releasing for the past few years. Daredevil was the first, Jessica Jones arguably the most popular, Luke Cage the diversity quota and Iron Fist possibly the most annoying.

    In a similiar way to The Avengers, The Defenders unites all four of these heroes to fight crime as the eponymous superhero team. That in itself isn't too great for the female quota: Jessica is only one of four. But each of the four heroes also brings their token "female friend" to the series with them, which adds up to a lot of female faces onscreen. All of the additional filler characters in each series (generally those who aren't love interests) were discarded, leaving only a bunch of strong women onscreen.

    Jessica Jones in a promotional image for the television show.jpg

    Jessica brings Trish Walker, who's possibly the most interesting supporting character in the entire series as a former child star turned radio talk show host turned wannabe superhero. Iron Fist brings Colleen Walker, a former ninja villain turned dojo owner. Cage brings Misty Knight, the tough talking cop with a huge personality to match her ridiculous rack. And Daredevil actually brings two female companions with him: Karen, a reporter and potential love interest, and Elektra, a past love interest and the main villain of the piece.

    On top of that, there's several other strong females in the mix. Claire Temple is a former nurse who's appeared in every Marvel Netflix show so far and who acts as the sort of Nick Fury to unite the group. Alexandra is a new character, also a villain, whose actions form the backbone of the first half of the series.

    Out of the fifteen main cast members, that's a whopping eight who are female. Women are actually outnumbering men, which is completely unprecedented in superhero themed shows. With the addition of Gao, another notable villian, and Jeri Hogarth, who plays a small role as a lawyer - neither of whom are main cast members, but who play significant roles, that's ten strong female characters in the show. Even better, four of them - five if you count the Greek Elektra - are women of colour.

    Of course, the sheer number of females on any one show isn't the only thing that will make it "feminist". After all, quality comes over quantity, and this achievement wouldn't count for anything if every female character walked around in a skimpy bikini the entire time. Thankfully, most of these women are well-developed and with motives of their own; even if four out of eight of them are love interests. Each has a different but significant role to play: some of them fighters, some of them healers; some of them leaders and some of them gazers. Writers worked with Signourney Weaver (Alexandra) specifically to ensure that her character was sympathetic and not cliched, namely to avoid "terms like ‘ice queen’ that are often thrown at women who aren’t completely sympathetic." Weaver herself called the relationship between Alexandra and Elektra "one of the most unusual that I’ve ever experienced".

    Wonder Woman in a promotional image for the film.jpg

    Which brings us, in a very roundabout way, to Wonder Woman. An admittedly fun movie, Wonder Woman was very on the nose regarding its feminist agenda, turning the political movement into a shtick to seperate it from the crowd of action blockbusters surrounding it. Because it defined itself based on its feminism, Wonder Woman's characters were entirely created from that concept, leading to a literal army of completely flawless, idealised representations of women. These women were all glorious Amazons with beautiful hair, cool armour to show off their long legs, and barely a character flaw in sight. It worked for Wonder Woman because of that particular characters status as a feminist icon, but it also displayed very little diversity in terms of female characters and only added to the idea that they are "other", separated from other superheroes thanks to their god-like status.

    On the other hand, the sheer quantity of The Defender's female cast members means that they're bound to differ in their personalities and opinions. More importantly, they're all much more relatable: Jessica suffers from PTSD, Trish a controlling mother, Colleen an abusive male authority figure, Karen relationship issues and Elektra a split personality. Gone are the flawless Glamazons of this years first quarter: here is a group of women who don't have to be perfect to be powerful.

    For a studio who does so poorly when it comes to females in film, Marvel's television projects are all surprisingly good. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. features a similarly large cast of females (although they don't match the males), Agent Carter was their first female hero to have a project follow them, and the multitude of series leading up to The Defenders, while not great on their own, have culminated in a very female friendly show. Let's hope that with the Brie Larson-led Captain Marvel, coming in 2019 Marvel will finally start to do as well with its film properties, too.


      Report Article


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    What? Flawless women? Huh? The Amazons spent years upon years of enslavement to men. They suffered and were bound to chains for trying to do the right thing and help mankind. Movie does a well enough job to show that they're strong and powerful yet have flimsy beliefs. 

    Someone always has to tear something that has clearly done us a step in the right direction with something that doesnt even come close to comparison. So petty.

    Yeah, ignore the ass shot Jessica does in many of the posters. :wink:

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    11 hours ago, ItsJokesta said:

    What? Flawless women? Huh? The Amazons spent years upon years of enslavement to men. They suffered and were bound to chains for trying to do the right thing and help mankind. Movie does a well enough job to show that they're strong and powerful yet have flimsy beliefs. 

    Someone always has to tear something that has clearly done us a step in the right direction with something that doesnt even come close to comparison. So petty.

    Yeah, ignore the ass shot Jessica does in many of the posters. :wink:

    Are you trying to deny that every single Amazon woman in the film was completely flawless? :stretcher: Seriously girl, they all walked around with their five foot legs on full display, waves of beautiful hair and perfect skin...Absolutely nothing about them is damaged or messed up in any way, physically or mentally. And nothing about them being "enslaved" by men was referenced in the film, the only backstory we got to the Amazons was their part in the war between Zeus and Ares.

    If you'd read the article properly you'd know I actually liked Wonder Woman, I just find it funny that that project got so much hype for it's very one-note portrayal of women whereas this show got no credit at all. :dealwithit:

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites


    Guest
    You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
    Add a comment...

    ×   You have pasted content with formatting.   Remove formatting

      Only 75 emoticons maximum are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


About #PopHatesFlops:

Since our start as a blog called #PopHatesFags in 2012, PHF has consistently provided you with the latest pop culture news and hottest new releases. Join us as we analyse everything pop culture, build new friendships, and discuss the latest news and tracks exclusive to #PopHatesFlops!

Member of the Month:

It shocks me to write this because I'm so surprised that Kim Craig hasn't already been Member of the Month at least once during their time on PHF! Kim may not be the most frequent poster, but they've been with PHF for over four years and in that time they've made close to 2 000 posts. Not only do they always have something interesting to say, but their love of TV icons Lucille Bluth and Kim Craig do a lot to brighten out day. Thank you so much for being such a loyal member of the #PHFamily, we can't wait to celebrate another four years!

×