In a recent Reddit Ask Me Anything, one fan asked MMA champion Ronda Rousey of her choice of a superheroine to play on the big screen, given the opportunity. Her response was that she would like to take a crack at the Marvel character Captain Marvel. Soon after fans took to PhotoShop to create images of the character bearing Rousey’s likeness, which in turn has prompted Rousey to push for the role.
Currently, there are no cast attachments, so the chances of her landing the role still reside within the realm of possibility. So now is the time to speak up and maybe, just maybe, tip the scales into Rousey’s favour with the studio executives! Here’s why Rousey needs to land the role.
1. Stereotypical Female
While in recent years there seems to have been more of a push in the comic book industry to enlist more female creative talent, it does still remain a predominantly male-run business. Similarly, readership is also predominantly male. As a consequence of a lack of a female presence or voice, comic book characters have become archetypal. Men are muscular, confident and powerful (White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant as well…but that’s more for another day) whereas women are drawn with large breasts, narrow waist and curvy hips, and perhaps most galling of all, are almost always submissive to male characters and leadership. Rousey he may possess Wonder Woman-esque combat savvy, but that’s where the similarities end between the two. While Rousey is undeniably conventionally beautiful, her physical proportions are entirely unlike that what you would find in the pages of a mainstream comic book. It isn’t that Rousey isn’t feminine, it’s that she’s real. She embodies both the femininity and a raw physical power that is represented in the comics. Rousey’s physical form is distinctly not the hourglass of a comic book superheroine – having instead opted for knuckle calluses than of a pair of double-dees. Her physique is genuinely powerful: broad shoulders, solid core and chiseled legs.
Rousey as a woman existing in reality with actual physics and biology to her credit and the benefit of actually being scary-good fighter, looks nothing at all like women rendered in pencil. Her body shape and physique reflect her profession and pursuits rather than a cultural ideal. She reflect a reality that a woman can be physical and beautiful in a way that does not conform to the ideals of the comic book world. It’s important for the conventional image of feminine beauty to be delineated, it only slightly. Rousey may be just the right person to get this ball rolling – she is after beautiful.
2. A Female Role Model
It’s should come as a great shock to absolutely no-one at all that there are precious few positive female role models in the mainstream comic book industry and this is grievous problem. While readership is predominantly male, but this isn’t to say that there aren’t any female readers. Moreover, male readers are just as susceptible to being influenced by the unrealistic female image presented them in comics today and impose that standard on women. Many of the prominent female roles in comics are non-leadership roles. They may be valued members of whatever team they’re on, but there are precious few teams lead by a female character in the mainstream.
Rousey’s success in MMA, while not necessarily the exact message to convey to your women – aspire to be a fighter – conveys the right spirit. The MMA, like the comic book industry, is predominantly a patriarchal industry and Rousey entered into, fought (both figuratively as well as litterally) at and achieved success in. It’s important to convey to the message to young women the simple message ‘you can’. The unfortunate reality is that there are still ‘boys clubs’ of businesses but women should work to pursue their passions and interests, regardless of the opposition. Ronda embodies this fighter’s spirit both literally as well as figuratively and when it comes to adopting a superheroines mantle to set an example of what we can be and to always aspire to more, this is an important quality and credential.
3. Let’s Get Physical
For those unfamiliar with the character, Captain Marvel is a physical character, as opposed to the likes of Profession X who rely solely on his intellect and metal abilities to accomplish his feats. Failing all other endeavours (and yes, she does try to resolve issues non-violently, as you can read in Kelly-Sue Deconnick’s current run with the characters) she will resort to good old fashioned fisticuffs. Rousey is not only uniquely qualified for this aspect given her elected profession, she is probably singularly qualified by virtue of her MMA record. She is simply, a force to be reckoned with in the ring and the way this raw power and physical ability will convey on screen will be unique. There can be no comparison for her actual ability and know how.
Marvel may not realize it just yet but they’re on the verge of some very important social issues with their current lineup of films, such as with Black Panther, slated for a release the same year as Captain Marvel. There’s a lot of room to do things right and progressive, but also a lot of room to lapse back into old stereotypes. Let’s make sure that girls and young women get a role model worthy of them and of twenty-first century ideals.