I was all set to write a post about how stupid both the thesis and supporting arguments of this USA Today story are, when I checked the comments section of the story, and noticed the folks there did my work for me. Using Catwoman and Elektra to say that comic fans don’t like women in hero mode is like saying the poor sales of Crystal Pepsi and Van Halen III mean that soda and rock and roll are on the wane. But there’s little use in me throwing another log on that fire, so thanks for stealing my thunder, Internet. And way to figure out the new media, USA Today. Jerks.
Frankly, I’d be the first one to trumpet Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer as the herald (ahem) of a new age of women-centered hero films if it weren’t for the fact that Jessica Alba’s Sue Storm isn’t the heart of this team and there’s little the actress can do about it. For now.
This isn’t to say that the fault lies with who Alba is. She’s a decent actress in the right role; her Nancy Callahan in Sin City is the kind of woman that men would kill for, and Dark Angel gave Alba a role that allowed her to deliver a mix of poutiness and sass, backed with a sharp boot heel. It’s fair to say she was born to play Max.
But Sue Storm is a mother figure in a family of super heroes. And while Alba has many charms, projecting a maternal instinct isn’t one of them. She gives off the air of a woman who’s still taking in the world – no crime there for a woman in her mid 20s – but the role requires someone who’s able to suggest with her eyes that she’s seen enought to know what’s right for her boys. If anyone, it’s Michael Chiklis’ Ben Grimm who carries the right amount of world-weariness on his shoulders to be the team’s moral compass.
Despite Scott Knowles’s protestations to the contrary, the only thing that’s woman-centered about Surfer is that there’s a woman in it, surrounded by men. Can Alba’s Sue Storm hold her own in the ass-kicking department? Sure. But she isn’t gifted with the Athenian wisdom necessary to carry the role. Not yet.
Speaking of which, I’m on record with saying that a certain female super hero should be given her due. If Scott Bowles’s article can make it easier to get Wonder Woman a green light, I’ll forgive him his blindness. I’m just hoping he’s not in charge of casting the thing.