Chick Fight!

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Warning: Spoilers abound.

After watching X-Men: The Last Stand and Aeon Flux in the same weekend, I’ve come to an observation that has been touched on before with a couple of my friends, but it became very clear after seeing these films.

That would be Hollywood’s obsession with badass chicks only getting to have a final showdown… with badass chicks.

Let’s start with Storm in X3. The girl was kicking some surprising ass (considering the first two movies), but her main competitor was an impressive Morlock woman. In Aeon Flux, Aeon shot dozens of people without blinking an eye, but the battle that actually took effort was with Trevor’s female bodyguard. Bulletproof Monk? Same thing. The Mummy Returns? You betcha.

Now, understand that I don’t completely disapprove of this. Mainly, because this trend depicts women kicking some serious butt and that there’s more than one that exists in one universe.

But. It also gives me a message that strong women can only use physical violence against… strong women. No strong man seems to be around that she can kick the crap out of. Does this go back to men not being able to hit a girl? Or is it more that the media doesn’t think that a woman could actually win against a man?

Comments

  1. sbg says

    There really are very few women who have been “allowed” to whup some male ass, aren’t there? The only one I can think of, small screen, is Sydney Bristow from Alias. She does it frequently, and well.

    Actually, most of the females on that show seemed to hold their own, no matter who the opponent.

    Interesting.

  2. scarlett says

    You forgot that bad chick from X-Men 2, the female version of Wolverine. She takes out Cyclops with absolutely no trouble (I remember reading an article with James Marsden saying it was embaressing that he got his ass kicked by two women) and it takes Wolverine some serious effort to kill her. And Mystique, in her various forms, never seemed to have much trouble taking men out, except maybe Wolverine.
    I think though, its a combination of ‘men don’t hit women’ and ‘men don’t want to get their asses kicked by something smaller then them’ – y’know, it’s one thing to lose to an evenly matched opponent, another to lose to someone you’ve got twenty kilos and fifteen centimeters on.
    On that note, it’s interesting that when the female Wolverine (always forget her name!) takes out Cyclops, the whole thing takes a few seconds and is mostly offscreen, but her fight with Wolverine is one of the major, pivotal fight scenes. Is there something in that? That when she takes out a man who is absolutely no match for her in hand-to-hand combat, the whole thing is over in a few seconds to save Cyclops/Marsden the extended humiliation of having his ass kicked, but when she’s up against her male equivilant – a man who actually has the strength, healing ability and metal claw things to beat her – it lasts for several minutes and is pivotal to the storyline?

  3. Glaivester says

    They do not give her name in the movie, but she is supposed to be Lady Deathstrike.

    As I recall, in Highlander: The Series, and Highlander: The Raven (the latter dealing with female immortal Amanda [Elizabeth Ward Gracen]) there were female immortals who fought male immortals, and occasionally one. I do not immediately recall any female-on-female immortal battles.

  4. Ifritah says

    Yes, it’s always a breath of fresh air to see strong female characters just lay the smack down on whatever gender happens to pass by.

  5. Ifritah says

    Naw, I didn’t forget about Lady Deathstrike. I just noticed a trend, not an absolute. There are examples of women kicking men’s ass, certainly. But, as you point out, Lady D didn’t win that fight. Sure, she beat up Cyclops (but, really, who can’t?), but you’re right. It definitely wasn’t a big scene. It was a minor throw-back to show that, yes, she is a badass. I’m guessing so that people can see how uber nifty Wolvie is to beat her. (And, of course, they have comic book history together, so that was nice to see.) I do wonder if the length of their fight was due to their comic book angst, or to showing that they’re both tough, but in the end, the guy kicked the most ass. Hmm…

    I agree about the combo of ‘men don’t hit’ and ‘men don’t want to be beat up by Buffys’. Hrm, I wish I could recall what the big fight was in X1…

  6. Ifritah says

    I’ve never seen any of the Highlander series. But I definitely love when they have a female badass come up that doesn’t have to be only getting female fighting grr.

    Did the female immortals ever win?

  7. scarlett says

    Actually I thought the fight between Wolverine and Deathstrike was fairly evenly matched, and Wolverine only won because he managed to shove that tube with the liquid metal into her.

  8. Ifritah says

    I never said it wasn’t evenly matched. I just pointed out that, in the end, although they had the same plusses going for them, Wolvie still won.

  9. scarlett says

    I guess the major fight in X1 was when Wolvie and Mystique, in her various forms, go head to head. Wolvie technically wins, in the sense that he neutralises Mystique for the time being, but she’s soon recovered and back to kicking ass. Mind you, she seemed to have a yen for Wolvie after that, weather it was respect for a man actually capable of beating her or she was a masochist, I don’t know.

  10. Mecha says

    My take on it is generally that it’s main character syndrome. In all the examples you quoted, the ‘main character’ matches up against the ‘main villain’. Since those are often male v male, that’s what you get. In contrast, in The Long Kiss Goodnight (Ha ha! I knew buying that would be good for something) the main char’s female, and the main villain’s male (in fact, all villains are male. She doesn’t beat up a single woman.) Magneto and Stryker’s penchants for female lieutenants? Lead to matchups, male or female. (It’s also worth noting that Storm vs Calisto is a comic book fanism: Storm kicks Calisto’s ass to lead the Morlocks in one storyline.) Buffyverse, similarly, main character beats up enemies, everyone else just sorta gets assigned as necessary. I assume Alias is similar. Xena? Yeah. Female leads lead to female on all asskicking. And in Highlander, I’m pretty sure that Amanda (the female thief immortal) won at least one fight, as much as Duncan tends to be the showcase of that particular show, and Amanda doesn’t tend to straigut up combat. I can’t think of a show where a female lead was supposed to be combatty and never beat up a guy, so I’m not sure they’re shying away from ‘good girls don’t hit’ on this front. Unless there’s never been a female lead who can be a role model?

    It does happen a lot, though, in those movies and others (Recent Bond movies?) S’probably a mix of factors otherwise, from lack of female main characters, which automatelly relegates the female heroine’s fight to the lieutenant and not the big bad, to hollywood desire for T&A.

    -Mecha

  11. Ifritah says

    I agree with X-Men that there was comic book history going on. I understood what they were doing with Callisto vs. Storm, but I had to point out the chick vs. chick as a thing that I noted. (Though don’t even get me started on how non-Callisto she was in the movie.)

    As for main characters, that does hold some merit. Though in Aeon Flux, Aeon was the main character, so even though she was shooting guys left and right, the main fight she had was with a chick.

    Your last paragraph about the woman often fighting the lieutenant instead of the big bad at the end is exactly my wave-length. Mortal Kombat? Street Fighter? Yup yup. (Though these were based off video games with a male sexism, so I’m not at all surprised.)

  12. Mecha says

    Yeah, a friend of mine commented on that too (the non-Callisto-ness.)

    Ah, I’ve never seen Aeon Flux, so that one slipped me. That paragraph might highlight an interesting possible trend, whether positive or negative: Does a female main character lead to a female big bad more or less than a male big bad? Not something I think people can necessarily decide, and there’s heavy weight on both sides. (Buffy, for example, was almost exclusively ‘ultimate big bad is male’ up until the last 3 seasons, where it was female, female, genderless-with-large-hints-of-female.) At least in my mind.

    Well, I do agree that it happens. ;) As a mental contrast… are there any shows with female leads, male ‘sidekicks’, and that stick with mainly male-on-male lieutenant fights? Hmm.

    -Mecha

  13. Ifritah says

    Buffy definitely was a more-or-less 50/50 with the male/female Big Bad.

    Xena had a lot of one-timer baddies, but her main nemisis was Calisto (heh, look at all the characters named that about!), a female warrior just like her.

    Also, I can’t think of one show where the main character was female with a male sidekick. … If I can’t come up with something by the end of the day I’m going to be upset about this realization.

  14. Mecha says

    I always considered Xena’s main big bad, although he wavered on that, Ares, who is male and more recurrant than Callisto. Then again, I didn’t see the WHOLE series. Callisto is a very big contrasting foe, though. Very, very big. I don’t really have the time for heavy analysis on which ‘kind’ of bad each is, but they seem different.

    Well, Buffy (again)… consider S1 Buffy with Giles and Xander as her ‘sidekicks’, really, and they are thoroughly secondary. Willow’s ‘around’ but I’d say Xander/Giles are the contrasting secondaries. Maybe the ‘bodyguard’ sidekick idea is the only support for it in general. For ensembles, it flies. But a pure ‘buddy’ show… yeah, I got nothin’.

    -Mecha

  15. Ifritah says

    I guess I didn’t think of Ares as the Big Bad (although I can see your point) because he wasn’t really… tangible. He was a god, so he used pawns and manipulation instead of going for a swordfight mono a mono (no, I don’t think I spelled that right).

    Calisto seems to be her Big Bad (at least for awhile) in the fact that she’s physically there in her face, battling it out with her every chance she can get. In fact, there was a time when Calisto was Ares’ pawn. … Not sure what that means.

    If you were including the pack mentality like Buffy where she has a lot of sidekicks, then yeah, I agree with that. … Though if all we can come up with is Buff being the only example, I will cry. I want a woman with a male lieutenant that doesn’t have a high likelihood of bitch-slapping them if they tell her her hair looks limp in the back after a fight! (Okay, I might be slight exaggerating there. Slightly.)

  16. Glaivester says

    In at least three cases in the original, a female killed the male – although in one case the female immortal caught the male by surprise rather than winning a regular fight.

    In The Raven, the female won most of her fights, although I think in one or two cases someone rescued her when she was about to lose. I didn’t see enough episodes to remember how many she won.

  17. Mecha says

    Mano y mano, bella chica. ;) And the Ares fights were relatively rare, that’s true (the one he had to fight him to prove to the furies he was her father is the one I remember) so yeah, I can see that. And you look at the other conceptual big bads… Hope? Gabby’s daughter? S’the only other one I can really remember. God knows there were a lot of male bads in general, and some pretty high name ones (Ceaser, off and on, etc.) Maybe that’s really sorta the difference. Callisto just plain HATED Xena. Ares wanted to control her. (Ha ha, patriarchy metaphors, anyone?)

    And ha. Um. Sarah Connor has an interesting dynamic in T1 (okay, at the END of T1) and T2 with her ‘male’ opponent, AND her male ‘sidekick’ (or was she the sidekick? It was her PoV once she entered.) Lokoing at Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Sidekicks)… they’ve got two cases, one comic book and one book. Not exactly good odds.

    A question comes up on whether a ‘male bodyguard’ qualifies for this purpose, although really, I can’t help but think of Slayers, as much as we focus on american/pop culture media, Lina Inverse and Gourry.

    -Mecha

  18. Ifritah says

    Mono y mono! I was so close!

    And hey, good point! Hope was another of the main Big Bads. I haven’t seen all the seasons, so I don’t know who was after her, but yeah!

    Sarah Connor’s interesting dynamic by sleeping with her protector? *Cough* Okay, yes, I realize what you meant.

    She is an odd case. She was a strong woman, certainly, but men were continually showing up to protect her.

    Ah, Lina, how I love you. Though I suppose I was shying away from thinking of anime examples, since that’s Japanese culture.

  19. Jennifer Kesler says

    Xena’s lifelong nemesis was Alti (Claire Stansfield). And Eve for a while – Xena’s daughter.

  20. Ifritah says

    … I don’t know either of those people. They must’ve been in later seasons.

    … … And Xena had a daughter? HUH? When?? I didn’t realize I was that out of the loop.

  21. lgm89 says

    Don’t forget Relic Hunter!!! Sydney tended to beat up ENTIRE gangs of male bad guys while Nigel, her male sidekick, tended to look on or help through bungling means.

  22. Ifritah says

    Why does that show sound so familiar…?

    Hrm, is that the one with the actress from the movie Wayne’s World?

  23. lgm89 says

    Yes. It was a Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider type show. It lasted three years and was fun ia a campy way. I’m actually surprised that it’s never been mentioned here; Sydney’s a great character.

  24. Ifritah says

    *Nod* Okay, yeah, I’ve caught glimpses of the show while channel surfing. Hrm, I might have to check this show out if it’s on DVD.

  25. Jennifer Kesler says

    Yeah, Relic Hunter is something I keep meaning to watch sometime. I’ve heard about it from a few people.

  26. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’m guessing Alti was third or fourth season? She probably appears in less than 12 eps, so it’s possible you missed her. But she’s mentioned more than a few times, and her impact on Xena’s life feels pretty big when all is said and done.

    Eve is born in Season 5, I think – the one where they go to India. In the end, she becomes good, but when Xena first meets her (after being imprisoned in ice for the first 25 years of Eve’s life), Eve is Aries’ favorite girl.

    I was just adding these two to the list of enemies who actually recur on Xena.

  27. Ifritah says

    I really need to get on the ball with my Xena DVDs. I have five of the seasons, but I’ve only watched the first season all the way through.

    I’ve never actually seen any of five. And six… well, I’ll never go there from what I’ve heard of the finale.

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