The cool thing about science fiction and fantasy is that it allows us to examine what makes us human. Because more often than not, the genre features a protagonist or group of protagonists with capabilities beyond those of ordinary humans. And sometimes we watch how extraordinary humans cope with still living an ordinary life, or learning to adjust to a different one.
Summer of 2015, Jake asked for people to come co-write for The Geeky Mormon. I posted my first article in July. So it’s been more than a year—more like a year and two months. But better late to get around to an anniversary-type post than never. This isn’t really to brag on my achievements but to look back on what else I’ve been doing with my life in addition to The Geeky Mormon as well as some of the changes that have happened, some I may have mentioned in writing, others not so much.
You should never underestimate the power of cosplay in groups. I’ve been a part of a charity group for a while, but for this Comic Con I planned to do something a little different. Livewire was my favorite villain in Season 1 of Supergirl. Since her outfit didn’t look too hard to imitate, I decided to cosplay her. Then a few months ago, one of my Facebook friends decided to put together a DC Villains/Arkham group for comic con. I decided to volunteer Livewire.
Here’s a short tribute to the saddest deaths in some of our fandoms, to the ones who die without being likely to come back. None of these are necessarily in order, and I don’t have time to discuss the hows and whys of all their deaths today. But see if you can make it through this post without crying. Also, spoilers for just about everything.
(Spoilers ahead, obviously)
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…the first DC superhero I have ever really liked. I’m not joking. Batman and Superman both bug me because they are both so popular. And Superman is just so perfect. But, ICYMI, Supergirl just wrapped up its first season on CBS and it was spectacular. Supergirl is my new favorite superhero because she’s 1) not dark and brooding and 2) a modern (slightly clueless) twenty-something just like me. I didn’t have terribly high expectations for the TV show but it delivered. It’s not the best-written but it’s still very high-quality storytelling and family friendly to boot. After Star Wars Rebels, this is my second time watching a television series all the way through, but allow me to break it down for you.
“It is our choices, Harry, that make us who we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Over the last few years, I have come to realize that there is a lot of truth to this statement. Choices are what decide whether we’re good or bad, not what we’re capable of doing. Choices also determine our character more than the bad things we put up with in life. There was a banner on the wall of my high school gym: attitude is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react. That is the difference between a villain and a victim.
WARNING: Skip the next two paragraphs if you don’t want spoilers for Supergirl
Another week is in the books, and we are bringing back our “This Week in Geek” feature. In this feature we are going to take a look at a few of the stories that happened this week in the world of Geek. We aren’t a news site, so this won’t necessarily be a comprehensive list, just a few highlights. If you see a story throughout the week that you think should be featured here, then send it along to me and I will include it. You can send it directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. Alright, let’s get to This Week in Geek.
This past Monday saw the premier of the latest DC television series, Supergirl. The series is brought to us by the same folks who brought us Arrow and The Flash, so expectations were pretty high. I was curious to see if the quality would be just as high as those two shows, or if this would be just a “girl version” of a superhero show. More on that later. It seems like the reception for the pilot has been pretty positive, which is a big deal. Make no mistake, she may wear the “S” ( I know, it’s not really an S) on her chest, but this was still a really big risk for DC. Historically speaking, female driven superhero titles have not been huge sellers. Partially, that’s because female superhero title haven’t been very good, historically speaking. Well, I have watched the pilot for Supergirl now, twice, and I have to say, I have a lot of hope that this series could rewrite history for the genre.
There is a problem in the world of geek, and it’s not a small one. No, it’s a large problem, and one that doesn’t seem to be going away, even in the forward thinking, super tolerant society that we have become. It’s one that has been around forever, but I really started noticing it on a personal level about six years ago. It’s basically this: Go down the superhero aisle of any toy store and you will find a lot of different characters. You will find Superman, Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Captain America, Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man, Wolverine, etc. You won’t find any Black Widow, or Batgirl, or Wonder Woman. In fact you’d be lucky to find any action figure type toys that represent any strong female protagonist. Yes, you might find some purple and pink Superman logo or Batman logo merchandise in the girls’ section, but that’s probably it. I am also not talking about the collectible figures that cost $25 that are targeted to the collector and not the kids. Why can’t you find any of these female characters in the superhero aisle? Simply put, boys don’t want to play with girl figures. This is what the marketing people believe and what the toy manufacturers believe. This was highlighted recently when a toy was released, based on a scene from The Age of Ultron movie, in which Black Widow is launched from a Quinjet on a motorcycle to help Cap out. Problem is, in the toy version, it is Cap on the motorcycle instead of Black Widow.
Here’s the thing, marketing people and toy manufacturers are probably right. Most boys don’t want to buy the girl figures. I have two boys who would probably agree with that. But you know what? I have three girls who would probably love to play with a motorcycle toy that featured a girl instead of Captain America. And there is the real issue. There is a growing number of young, geeky girls today. Geeky dads and geeky moms don’t see gender when raising the next generation of geeks. In their minds it is just as necessary for their girls to grow up as geeks as it is for their boys. My girls love the superhero movies just as much as my boys do. I would buy them just as much superhero merchandise if there was any of it made for girls. It’s all targeted at the boys.
It extends beyond the toys as well. In the next 5 years, there will be a billion superhero movies made, and two of them will have a woman as the main antagonist, we assume. One will be Wonder Woman, scheduled for the summer of 2017, and Captain Marvel, scheduled for the end of 2018. Black Widow has been deemed a side character and will not be receiving her own film. Which is good, because she is not an interesting character at all (I know sarcasm does not come through in type, so let me just tell you that last sentence was oozing with it). We have heard that Captain Marvel will be the Carol Danvers version of the character, but who knows? Maybe they will instead use the original version of the character, who was a male. In any case, it is easy to see that women as the main protagonist are hard to come by, and that is frustrating as a dad.
Being able to share my geekiness with my kids is pretty awesome. I love it when they get excited about the stuff I am excited about. I love when my boys run around pretending to be their favorite heroes, and it makes me sad that the girls don’t because they don’t want to pretend to be boys. My oldest will usually pretend to be Wonder Woman, the one female character everyone seems to know. My other girls pretend to be Batman or Thor (imagine their excitement in finding out that there is now a female Thor). Unlike my boys, though, they don’t get to see women being heroes like the men on the big screen, or even the little screen, and that’s hard as a dad. Don’t get me wrong, I don;t consider myself to be super feminist or anything, and I am trying to not make this a political discussion. All I am saying is that I want my girls to see heroes on the screen who are like them, and are just as awesome as their male counterparts, instead of always playing a supporting role. I don’t view my marriage that way. My wife Dani both have the leading role, and we are equal partners. I just want my girls to have an opportunity to see some of that too. And, I want to buy them cool toys like I buy the boys.
So what does this have to do with Supergirl? Well, DC finally has a shot to beat Marvel and be ahead of the curve. With their upcoming CBS series, Supergirl, they have an opportunity to be the first of the two companies to have a show centered on a strong female lead. They don’t come much stronger than Supergirl. The preview for the show looks promising, and I hope it is a smash hit and really popular. Movie makers and show runners have it in their heads that girl superheroes don’t sell. I think that was probably true 20 years ago, or 30 years ago, but I am hoping it has changed. I am hoping that this series will be the one to break the mold, and show Hollywood that there is an audience for this.
If Supergirl is successful, it will open the doors for future series and movies. It could open the door for more girl targeted merchandise in the stores for both companies. It could be a real beginning. In a lot of ways, it would be kind of cool. Superman was the first successful superhero, and because of him we have all the different superheroes today. If he had not been successful, who knows where the comics industry would be. Now, maybe his female cousin can do the same for the super heroine. Maybe her success can lead to many more successful superpower females on the big and little screens and on merchandising shelves.
I know that Marvel seems to be ahead of the curve on a lot of things related to superhero stuff, but this seems to be one where they are holding themselves back. I should say, it’s Disney, not Marvel, that’s holding them back. Marvel has a stable of strong female characters, but none of them seem to show up on screen or on toy shelves. Disney has always had the strict boy/girl lines. They have their characters for girls (usually princess something) and now with Star Wars and Marvel, their characters for boys. It is going to take a lot for them to break this mold, and let’s be honest, they have had years and years of success in their marketing format.
DC and Warner Bros. are not hindered by that. They can finally beat Marvel at being the pioneers in something superhero related. I’m not saying it will be enough to put them on top at the box office, but it might start them on the path to discovery. There may be geeky parents who are drawn to DC simply because they show the same respect for their female children that they do for their male children. I am hoping it will be enough to at least keep DC in the game. I am still holding out hope that somehow DC will end up on top. In any case, I will be lining up to watch Supergirl this fall on CBS.
CBS just dropped a new extended trailer for Supergirl, and it looks pretty good. Yes, it looks slightly cheesy, but it also looks like it is worth a look this fall. Plus, it also looks like a show I would be comfortable with my kids sitting down and watching it. My girls especially. They need more heroines like this to watch and enjoy. My girls are all geeks, so I think they would really enjoy something like this. Plus, it’s as close as we are going to get to Supes on the small screen right now.