Few female characters get to be “the Chosen One” in science fiction and fantasy. Leia is as much the child of Darth Vader as Luke is, but only Luke gets to use the force, be recruited by his dad and ultimately save the day. We don’t get impossibly clever female sleuths or the sexy spies with the awesome gadgets. And on the rare occasions that we do get those characters, they’re denigrated as unrealistic Mary Sues.
I’ve spent a lot of time writing about the need for a wide variety of realistic female characters, but staring at that cup yesterday, I also realized how much we need unrealistic female characters. We need women to take roles that men have had in Hollywood for decades. The iconic characters. The Chosen Ones. The superpowered, and the impossible adventurers. The characters with the fast quips, the dark backstories, who are burdened with glorious purposes and discover that with great power comes great responsibility. The heroes that kids want to dress up as on the playground and want to be (against all realism) when they grow up.
We need more Mary Sues. We need more unapologetically powerful female characters, on a wish-fulfilment level of awesome. We need them to be gods and superheroes and billionaire playboy philanthropists and science experiments gone wrong and normal kids bitten by spiders who now save the world. Why should female characters have to be realistic, while male characters have all the fun? Why shouldn’t a female hero appear alongside Iron Man and Thor, in a way where she can truly hold her own?
We Need more Mary Sues