It’s easy to write Elektra off if you the treat her the way that an unfortunately large portion of fandom does: the way that they should treat white male villains.
However, Elektra is a complex character whose seeming superpowers – both pre- and post- her rebirth as the Black Sky — are clearly survival and adaptability. She survived the Chaste, she survived upper class society as a woman of color, she survived the Hand. She’s a character who has literally been through hell and has been used as a weapon her entire life. The experiences that have shaped her as a character influence the relationships that she has in her appearances. They influence her defense mechanisms (like when she tells Matt that the one condition for them working together again is “no sex”) and her sense of humor.
This second installment in my series all about the women of color in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and how they’re treated in fandom and/or by their respective narratives focuses on Elektra, a character that absolutely deserves better treatment from both.
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However, woobification really only happens to white male characters.
Elektra doesn’t get sympathy from Daredevil or its fandom.
It’s strange to me because all of the pieces are there. Elektra should be prime woobification material: when simplified, the trauma in her past and a childhood of being abused led to her becoming a vigilante that murders people. She’s sad and makes bad decisions and yes, she does look downright gorgeous in leather pants.
But who’s the woobie in Daredevil Season 2? Who’s the murderer we’re asked to empathize with despite the fact that they’re definitely a mass murderer? The Punisher, another anti-hero introduced in the series’ second season, who has “good reasons” for the violence that he commits. He’s the one that gets the sympathetic spin and his own show while Elektra is… literally manipulated and turned into a tool and written off by the same people that think the Punisher is absolutely correct in his one man war against crime and the folks that killed his family.
I’m working on an essay about Elektra in the Daredevil series, who gets to benefit from woobification, and how Elektra’s status as a survivor is important to the series and should have more of a highlight.
This is going to be in the same vein as the post I did on how Claire Temple was such an important feature of the MCU’s Netflix works, but more… intense because I’m going to be covering some harder topics.
[WIP Post] Elektra Natchios WIP | Zina on Patreon
Sometimes, if you want justice you have to get it yourself.
Claire Temple in Luke Cage Season 1/Episode 7 “Manifest”
Claire Temple is too good for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Claire Temple is one of the best characters in the MCU and she’s one of the few recurring female characters of color the franchise has had in the almost ten years of its history. She’s also Afro-Latina – as is actress Rosario Dawson – making her one of the few Black women to have a major recurring role in the MCU following Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Raina.
In a genre that’s spent much of the past decade finding newer and more popular white male actors (often named “Chris”) to play their heroes rather than focusing on female characters or characters of color, Claire Temple is an extra awesome rarity.
Women of Color in Marvel Live Action Properties is an essay series that I’m doing that will look closely at the portrayals of female characters of color by actresses of color in Marvel’s various franchises. I was inspired by the fact that a lot of these female characters don’t get anywhere as much love as white female characters in similar roles and that we’re not as likely to see fandom analyze why they’re empowering. I want to celebrate the women of color that inhabit the same worlds as our favorite superheroes while looking at how and why they’re important to fans like me.
This first installment focuses on Claire Temple, Rosario Dawson’s character that has made appearances in Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage.
In this essay I talk about what it means for her to be a “major” Black character in the MCU (one of the first recurring ones) and how Luke Cage as a series saved her from being reduced to a sidekick to white characters. (I also talk a bit about how she’s a hero in her own right and should be treated as such.)
This is available for anyone pledging $1 or more on Patreon!
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Women of Color in Marvel Live Action Properties: Claire Temple | Zina H on Patreon