By RazzaTazz 12 Comments
One of the main themes in the history of comics is the matter of redemption. We will often see villains who started off evil and then decided to walk the path of righteousness (there are many examples – Elektra, The Thunderbolts, The Riddler, Two Face.) One of the key drivers of redemption are the heroes. Heroes are often seen to be sometimes forgiving of villains’ behavior because they see some redemptive quality in their actions. This may take on different aspects, like letting them go or having their sentences lightened. One of the most extreme examples of this is curing the villains through love. Not like brotherly love, but actually being enamored by the individual and trying to save them through marriage. As usual I am not as much a Marvel expert, but in DC this has occurred a few times: Captain Atom and Plastique; The Golden Age Green Lantern and Rose Thorn; and the Silver Age Batman and Catwoman. There are lots of other examples as well where marriage didn’t result (Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris for one.)
As usual I have probably overthought this, but there are some interesting trends here. First of all, it is never a female hero which reforms a male villain. Secondly, if love truly does break all bonds (and the romantic in me believes in that) then isn’t it just as likely that a villainess convinces a hero to not walk the straight and narrow path? Maybe not with Batman and his infallible like qualities, but might not another character so enamored give up on the side of the angels to follow his or her heart?
I could throw in a bit here about the history of the depiction of the female in certain religious texts (as the evil temptress), but its not my point. I don’t think this has as much to do with a man teaching a woman how to behave properly, rather it has to do with some sort of misguided sense of chivalry. If a hero lets his foe escape because he loves her , then he is in a sense guilty by association for all of her future actions. There is also a deeper argument here, and one which I will only touch on and not develop – if its not fair to ask someone to change because you love them (which it usually isn’t and will usually end in a failed relationship if it is something fundamental about their character) then what hope do these heroes really have? After all I am big fan of Batman and Catwoman being together, but I find the relationship much more interesting if it were the 90s sassy thief version of Catwoman (sass!) and not the quasi reformed version we have today. What made the characters so fun was that they were attracted to each other despite being opposites in a lot of ways.
By the way sorry to those who opened this and read it because it had “bad girl” in the title, but false advertising on titles is what comics do right?