This post comes to you kind of late at night for two reasons: one, I’m kinda sort of working three jobs right now (more like two, but working on it) and two, Mom and I watched The Judge tonight. Good movie. Great movie, actually. But that is for another day. Today…we discuss female superheroes.
Background: I work at the public library, and our summer reading program is superhero themed. My coworkers were putting up a lot of decorations and I noticed the lack of female heroes, so I went on a mission to find more. Upon doing so, I fell in love with several, but I limited the ones I compared based on these requirements: I wanted all of my information to be from the same medium, comic books, which effectively knocked out Agent Carter. I wanted to be sure I had enough material to pull from, so no Starfire or Black Widow since I only have one issue apiece. Finally, I didn’t want to cross brand lines. So I ended up with Wonder Woman vs. Batgirl and Captain Marvel vs. Spider-Gwen.
With Wonder Woman and Batgirl, I’m going to focus primarily on their intelligence and their people skills.
To start with, they are both extremely intelligent women, they just have different kinds of intelligence. Diana has good reasoning skills, but they are also linked to her people skills. Babs on the other hand is much more academically inclined. She recognizes patterns, builds an algorithm, and is creative and resourceful, using what she has on hand to solve her problems. Wonder Woman doesn’t have to do that so much because she’s super human.
Now for people skills. Arguably, Wonder Woman has the better of them. She is merciful, compassionate, and kind. She helps because it’s the right thing to do. Batgirl has a bit of a hero complex. She definitely helps people (otherwise she wouldn’t be a superhero) but she can also be selfish and have a one-track mind focused entirely on her own needs. She shows no mercy and cuts people out of her life, only going back to them when she feels she needs them. She does ask for help, unlike Wonder Woman, who says she doesn’t ask for help, she gives it. Babs even takes a bit of pleasure in violence, though always against the bad guys, while Wonder Woman only resorts to violence as a last resort. She is also more socially minded, while Babs’ focus is more inward.
The ultimate difference between them though is their emotional states. Wonder Woman has believes strongly in her gods, but says that is secondary to her complete faith in herself. The closest things Batgirl has to a higher power are the fathers in her life: her literal father and Batman. While both played a huge part in her origin story and are the reasons she has a hero complex to begin with, neither seems to play a role in her life as of her current story arc. And by the end of it, she even doubts herself.
As a hero, Wonder Woman is the nobler of the two, the one we should look up to. But as a character, Batgirl is the more relatable. Barbara Gordon is lost. She has recently come out of a dark place and is the on the other side questioning her identity and her purpose. She is trying to do good both academically and in her community, but also struggling with her finances and identity. So while I admire Wonder Woman, Batgirl is the one I hold close to my heart.
Captain Marvel and Spider-Gwen are harder to compare. While both of them are leaders (which is, I think, a really important aspect in the superhero formula), they’re also team players. The difference is that Gwen tries to be on a team while still pushing people away emotionally, but Carol is actually really good at letting people in. They’re both stubborn, too, but in slightly different ways. Carol is the “I’m going to jump right into a fight that isn’t technically my fight and just keep on fighting” kind of stubborn. Gwen is more patient, more calculating.
They also have different temperaments. Danvers is snarky, but in a playful way, making the occasional dirty joke, teasing colleagues, and generally having a good time despite her problems. Gwen has a smart mouth too, but with a sharper bite, and it only comes out when she’s wearing her mask as Spider-Woman. When she’s just Gwen, she is far more serious and has a dark view on the world. The same outlook colors their motivations as well. Gwen is trying to make up for a past mistake, while Carol just likes punching stuff and wants to do the right thing and help people.
But, like Babs, they’re both lost. Spider-Woman (Gwen) is pushing her friends away, trying not to endanger her dad, and feeling extremely guilty for the death of her neighbor. At the same time, she’s dealing with new powers and the fear that she’s a freak. Carol has settled into her powers and her position as an Avenger. She even has friends whom she loves. But she’s still restless. The real reason she was going to space, even before discovering Tic, was to try and find her place in it.
I love them both. Of all of them though, Captain Marvel is still my favorite.
I hope you guys enjoyed June’s Reader-Voted Project! Click below to vote for July’s. And if you have any suggestions for August’s project, please leave them in the comments, because coming up with fun options is NOT easy.