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  1. #1
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    Default Interesting Observation I've Made About Femme Fatale Supervillainesses

    So there's an in interesting trend I've noticed about femme fatale supervillainesses who transition into being heroes or antiheroes. Namely, that they become more "action" oriented instead of or in addition to being seductive and manipulative

    Emma Frost went from a villainous, scantily-clad telepath to an antihroic, scantily-clad telepath who could turn her skin into diamond. I also recall an issue of Generation X had her taking up boxing.

    Poison Ivy as a villain relied on poison kisses and pheromones. Ever since she's been written in a more sympathetic or borderline heroic light, she's been turned into a plant goddess of sorts.

    Black Widow in her first appearances as a villain was mainly just a seduction agent who relied on incompetent minions to handle the violence. Ever since she became a hero, she's been written as a deadly action hero with combat skills and powers on par with Captain America.

    The comic book version of Jade Nguyen aka Cheshire is your standard dragon lady femme fatale who relies on poisons and sex. Her Young Justice animated counterpart is depicted as a competent martial artist.

    Catwoman as written by Tom King is one half of a battle couple with Batman and bested Talia al Ghul (a woman trained from birth as an assassin) in a sword fight.

    Black Cat as a hero had cat based superhuman strength, speed and agility. Her 90 cartoon counterpart had a variant of the super soldier serum that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America.
    Last edited by Agent Z; 09-06-2019 at 11:45 AM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    So there's an in interesting trend I've noticed about femme fatale supervillainesses who transition into being heroes or antiheroes. Namely, that they become more "action" oriented instead of or in addition to being seductive and manipulative

    Emma Frost went from a villainous, scantily-clad telepath to an antihroic, scantily-clad telepath who could turn her skin into diamond. I also recall an issue of Generation X had her taking up boxing.

    Poison Ivy as a villain relied on poison kisses and pheromones. Ever since she's been written in a more sympathetic or borderline heroic light, she's been turned into a plant goddess of sorts.

    Black Widow in her first appearances as a villain as mainly just a seduction agent who relied on incompetent minions to handle the violence. Ever since she became a hero, she's been written as a deadly action hero with combat skills and powers on par with Captain America.

    The comic book version of Jade Nguyen aka Cheshire is your standard dragon lady femme fatale who relies on poisons and sex. Her Young Justice animated counterpart is depicted as a competent martial artist.

    Catwoman as written by Tom King is one half of a battle couple with Batman and bested Talia al Ghul (a woman trained from birth as an assassin) in a sword fight.

    Black Cat as a hero had cat based superhuman strength, speed and agility. Her 90 cartoon counterpart had a variant of the super soldier serum that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America.
    Some of your examples don't quite hold up.

    Cheshire was created as an elite martial artist in NTT Annual #2. Wolfman and Perez had spent two years building up Starfire as a combat badass, and they had Cheshire pretty much handball her all over the battlefield in her first outing.

    Catwoman was created as an athletically gifted catburgler and gymnast, and was a capable hand-to-hand combatant (specializing in a whip) from very early on.

    Black Cat was an elite athlete, catburgler, and martial artist from the beginning (as befits a Catwoman knockoff), who also used carefully preplanned stunts to make it seem that she could inflict "bad luck" on anyone pursuing her. She was given "probability warping" abilities (ala Scarlett Witch), along with increased physical abilities by The Kingpin's labrats.
    Last edited by DrNewGod; 04-08-2019 at 06:59 AM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrNewGod View Post
    Some of your examples don't quite hold up.

    Cheshire was created as an elite martial artist in NTT Annual #2. Wolfman and Perez had spent two years building up Starfire as a combat badass, and they had Cheshire pretty much handball her all over the battlefield in her first outing.
    If I recall correctly, Cheshire has to poison Starfire to beat her.

    Catwoman was created as an athletically gifted catburgler and gymnast, and was a capable hand-to-hand combatant (specializing in a whip) from very early on.
    She was simply a thief earlier on. She didn't get the fighting skills and whip until after the Adam West show.

    Black Cat was an elite athlete, catburgler, and martial artist from the beginning (as befits a Catwoman knockoff), who also used carefully preplanned stunts to make it seem that she could inflict "bad luck" on anyone pursuing her. She was given "probability warping" abilities (ala Scarlett Witch), along with increased physical abilities by The Kingpin's labrats.
    She did have these skills yes but it was her “bad luck” stunts she was mostly known for before getting an upgrade. Remember, the reason she wanted super powers was because she felt she was a liability to Spider-Man who had super powers.
    Last edited by Agent Z; 04-08-2019 at 08:01 AM.

  4. #4
    Old school comic book fan WestPhillyPunisher's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    Black Widow in her first appearances as a villain as mainly just a seduction agent who relied on incompetent minions to handle the violence. Ever since she became a hero, she's been written as a deadly action hero with combat skills and powers on par with Captain America.
    When last I checked, Natasha had the Russian version of the Infinity Formula in her veins that kept the original Nick Fury from aging, but no other powers other than above peak human level physical abilities.
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    Quote Originally Posted by WestPhillyPunisher View Post
    When last I checked, Natasha had the Russian version of the Infinity Formula in her veins that kept the original Nick Fury from aging, but no other powers other than above peak human level physical abilities.
    Her having the Infinity Formula was a retcon from what I recall.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    Her having the Infinity Formula was a retcon from what I recall.
    Wasn't this all a result of the Claremont X-men story with her, Wolverine, and Cap in WW2?


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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptCleghorn View Post
    Wasn't this all a result of the Claremont X-men story with her, Wolverine, and Cap in WW2?

    Don't think I've read that story, so maybe yeah.

  8. #8
    FF purist/snob CaptCleghorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    Don't think I've read that story, so maybe yeah.
    The point was that Natasha somehow was around active in the 1940s which would mean she'd need something to keep her young in the present day.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    If I recall correctly, Cheshire has to poison Starfire to beat her.
    Nope. Cheshire poisoned Kid Flash when he intervened in the fight with Starfire before its resolution, and Cheshire then fled. Up to KF's involvement, she was using Starfire for a mop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    [Catwoman] was simply a thief earlier on. She didn't get the fighting skills and whip until after the Adam West show.
    Nope. While she was was simply a thief in her earliest appearances (still more skilled and athletic than a mere seductress), Catwoman was a dangerous combatant as early as 1947, nearly 20 years before the Adam West show.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    She did have these skills yes but it was her “bad luck” stunts she was mostly known for before getting an upgrade. Remember, the reason she wanted super powers was because she felt she was a liability to Spider-Man who had super powers.
    Your point was the femme fatales were merely sex kittens who morphed into ninja-masters. That's not the case with Black Cat, nor Catwoman, nor Cheshire.

  10. #10
    The Weeping Mod Sharpandpointies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptCleghorn View Post
    Wasn't this all a result of the Claremont X-men story with her, Wolverine, and Cap in WW2?

    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    Don't think I've read that story, so maybe yeah.
    Quote Originally Posted by CaptCleghorn View Post
    The point was that Natasha somehow was around active in the 1940s which would mean she'd need something to keep her young in the present day.
    She was around. She wasn't 'active'. In the comic, she's about six or something - the cover is misleading (the comic actually has two, parallel storylines -- one in the present-day with Widow, Jubilee, and Wolverine, the second in the 40's with Cap and Logan, and Natasha is just a kid).

    ...also, the comic goes hardcore out of its way to highlight how supposedly awesome Logan is. It was that time period, really.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sharpandpointies View Post
    She was around. She wasn't 'active'. In the comic, she's about six or something - the cover is misleading (the comic actually has two, parallel storylines -- one in the present-day with Widow, Jubilee, and Wolverine, the second in the 40's with Cap and Logan, and Natasha is just a kid).

    ...also, the comic goes hardcore out of its way to highlight how supposedly awesome Logan is. It was that time period, really.
    If she was around six years old during the WWII, she would be 56 years old in that Claremont X-men story.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zetsubou View Post
    If she was around six years old during the WWII, she would be 56 years old in that Claremont X-men story.
    Locking her into WW2 fixes an age which isn't an issue for frozen Cap or mutant-lifespan Logan. The age works great if you deal with her in the Silver Age, but once you hit the nineties and well, now, it's a mess needing an infinity formula. I still maintain the need for it started here.

  13. #13
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    In general, I believe this is due to differences in how heroes and villains operate as perceived by an audience. Villains are supposed to do things in a way that provides low risk and high reward, such as having their minions do their fighting for them, while heroes are generally expected to do their own dirty work. Therefore, when a villainess changes sides, the storytellers need a way to highlight this, and having them fight shows their willingness to fight up front, as a hero is expected to do. Does this make any sense?

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