In our desire to see a female-led superhero movie, we don't want to leave out female supervillains, who are often overshadowed by their male counterparts. Here are a few ideas for creating interesting female villains while avoiding some of the more annoying tropes.
There has been a lot of clamor for female led super hero movies, and for good reason. I want more too but what I really really want are female villains. Give me superheroes, male and female matching wits and duking it out with female super villains! Both Marvel and DC so far have given us female second in command but what I really want is a female main villain, driving the plot with her nefarious agenda.
Of course I have do have a few caveats to that.
Avoid the Vamps
Female villains in media tend to overwhelmingly have one trait, sexy allure which they wield as a weapon against men. Now I am not entirely opposed to this but it just gets tiresome having that character trait over and over and over. After awhile it comes off less"Heck yeah female sexuality is powerful" and more "Let's give the straight guys something sexy". Plus when you give them powers which allows them control over men like Lorelei in Agents of Shield it is a bit too rapey and also comes off heteronormative and sexistly insulting to men.
So if women can't use their feminine wiles what can they use? Devious intellect obviously. But they can also use their fists! Ass kicking female villains are a thing, though they often like to flip and somersault more than Roy in Arrow and kick more than anything else, but I really want to see more women standing toe to toe with heroes, fighting the bad fight. From unpowered martial artists to super powered powerhouses, I want them all. Faora's fights in Man of Steel were honestly my favorite part. I have seen people complain about the idea of women in a fist fight with a guy, saying women are weaker so it break suspension of belief. Guess what it is a world full of super heroes! If they say a villain has the power to fight Thor to a draw then it makes as much sense as Thor having that much power.
Romance is Dead
A common plot for female villains that you don't get for male villains is the star crossed romance. At best it gives them conflicted feelings as they battle (or at least she does), at worst you get the incredibly sexist and insulting plot of a woman turned evil because a man spurned her. Given we don't get that many female super villains maybe give us a few who are free of that entangling web. Want Captain America to have a troubled romance with a villainous character? You've got Bucky/Winter Soldier.
Romance is often used to make a villain more sympathetic and good. Complex villains are interesting and reflect that the world isn't always black and white. But evil villains can be immensely more entertaining at times. Maleficent was one of many peoples favorite Disney villains because she was just so evil, no if and or buts about it. Give me women who just want to watch the world burn.
Man on Woman Action
If we are going to get a female villain anywhere it will be in Captain Marvel or Wonder Woman movies. In media there tends to be the Designated Girl Fight. Fortunately those have become less cat fight over the years but they are still doing a disservice to female characters. Give Iron Man or Captain America an on screen female rival!
Really I like the female villains we have so far, in DC and Marvel, Nebula and Faora, but they aren't given the chance to really drive the movie like the male villains have. Either because they are under utilized like Nebula or are the second in command like Faora. So Marvel and DC aren't doing as terribly as they could be. But good female main villains will do as much for representation, if not more in some ways, as good female heroes.
What female villain tropes annoy you and who would you like to see in a film?