Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Are Female Characters Unusually Likely To Get Luck Powers?

I almost titled it "Are Female Character Unusually Lucky?" Kind of a joke thing, talking about luck powers and all. Then I remembered, "oh yeah, women in fridges",  and figured it might be better to take a different route, avoid misunderstandings.

This occurred to me typing yesterday's post: Are a large number of characters with luck-themed powers women? Longshot is a guy, obviously, but past him, the ones that leap to mind are the Scarlet Witch, Black Cat, Domino, Roulette (from Emma Frost's Hellions). At DC, there was a daughter of the Gambler, who followed in his footsteps and had luck powers (I saw her in one of those Who's Who entries MGK did).

Beyond that, I'm not sure who else there is. Amos Fortune is interested in luck, and some of his schemes involve it, but a lot of times he branches out into other, vaguely scientific-sounding stuff as the plot demands. And they aren't really powers, at any rate. There was that '90s Titan Risk, the one who kept getting his arms ripped off, because someone at DC - Geoff Johns -  thought that was hilarious. But for some reason I'm not sure he actually had luck powers. No idea why. And Wikipedia says I was right, that he had enhanced physical abilities that increased with his adrenaline, which was ramped up by risk. Oh, now I get it. Well, never mind him, then.

I can't decide if Shamrock should count. I suppose not. She has ghosts that help her if she'll help them. Even so, that's 5-2 in favor the ladies. Hardly definitive, but maybe it's indicative of a larger trend. What, I'm not sure. Could just be a coincidence. We're talking multiple different creators, with several years between most of them. And who isn't going to give a character called "the Black Cat" freaking bad luck powers?

But it seems like female characters tend to get passive powers more often. Admittedly, I'm thinking largely or early Marvel, your Jean Greys, Wandas, Sue Storms, the Wasp. Stuff where they can (or have to) stand back and sort of wave their hands. Don't get to be actively hitting people, maybe get to zap them. Luck powers don't have to be like that, Longshot's frequently jumping around doing things while his powers are taking effect. Same for Felicia and Domino. At the same time, it's still more passive, depending on how much control the character is given over it. Scarlet Witch is on the active end, casting deliberate spells with her powers, the others more passive since they're usually trusting something will happen to make things go their way, without any concrete idea of what that might be. So maybe luck is classified as a feminine power? Which, considering that characters in comics are almost all attractive, could have an ugly undercurrent of "things always go their way because they're pretty". Hope I'm going too deep with that.

Does that make Longshot in some ways a more stereotypically feminine character? He's sort of small, very light (hollow bones), agile but not particularly strong, presented as naive about everything, and especially nowadays, he's an object of desire for almost everyone he meets. And things just seem to work out for him. Is he a romance novel protagonist? That's probably also going too far. A lot of male characters are depicted as being highly attractive to other characters (women usually, though that's shifting some these days).

But I feel like there's a difference between how Batman or Spider-Man are depicted in those situations, and Longshot. Maybe because they're usually having reciprocal feelings, or at least voice their lack of interest, whereas Longshot seems frequently indifferent. He's had relationships, at least one serious one with Dazzler, but a lot of times, people just fall for him instantly, and he doesn't really care about it one way or the other. A lot of times, his feelings on the matter don't even enter into it. It's played as a joke about how everyone thinks he's hot, or how he'll roll with it, but it doesn't mean anything to him. It's just something that happens he has to deal with, these people pursuing him.

Wasn't where I planned on that post going, but I figured it was worth throwing it out there for consideration. Get some other perspectives, see if I can flesh it out, or trash it if it's a mess.


SallyP said...

In response to your premise, I would have to say...most likely. As you pointed out, women characters usually had more passive powers, I remember what a relief it was to have Captain Marvel and She-Hulk, who went out and HIT things!

But yeah, Scarlet Witch, and Sue and Jean mostly stood around and pointed their hands and fainted a lot.

Longshot has always struck me as a rather androgenous figure anyway.

CalvinPitt said...

I've wondered for awhile if Stan Lee didn't create She-Hulk as a response to all those earlier women characters he made. She was the Savage She-Hulk then, hitting things, being angry, not at all concerned about stuff like fashion, or cooking.

I like her more in her current, intelligent lawyer who likes being big, green, and super-strong, but the contrast between her and say, early Invisible Girl is pretty stark.

I hadn't though of Longshot as androgynous, but that's a good description. He's a lot like those main characters in Japanese RPGs, the very pretty, very special boys that always wind up being so important and interesting to every other character.

SallyP said...

Yeah, I don't read manga, but that pretty well sums up Longshot for me.

Seriously though, there was nothing more irritating to me, than an early Stan Lee girl. They cried, they whined, they fainted. The men were manly men, who yelled at them for being "feminine".

In some ways comics HAVE come a long way!