Why do you like Sharon Carter?
This doesn’t have anything to do with Black Widow, anon, but okay.
I like Sharon Carter because she is noble without being nice. Because her heroism costs her. I think it helps that I don’t see her, primarily, as Steve’s love interest, I don’t want to evaluate her in terms of how narratively fit she is for a man. But I do think she makes Steve and his story better for being in it. (I can’t believe they’ve killed her off twice.)
See, Captain America is not very interesting when everyone agrees with him except the Nazis. His ideals have to be questioned for them to be felt. Stuff like Wolverine sobbing at the grave of Steve Rogers never felt right to me; he needs someone around to tell him hard things, that Bucky might be better off dead than a brainwashed shell of himself, that he cannot protect everything, save everyone. I’m not sure why people find Sharon heartless for choosing duty over love, when Steve’s commitment to service makes him lonely in the same way.
When Sharon died the first time it was this textbook fridging, the girlfriend burning up to give her hero grief and narrative freedom. But when Mark Waid brought her back he gave her a plotline in the process, her own adventures: she didn’t burn up for him, but for her own missions. It was clever, and I liked it.
Waid also deepened the way Sharon works as a foil in Captain America. Look: Steve is an ideal. His service has elevated him. The Super Soldier Serum brought out the best in what was already there. And Sharon was inspired by that, by her Aunt Peggy’s big adventures. She chose a life of bravery but it didn’t make her an ideal. It made her cynical, and bitter, and angry. She saw horrors and war and it didn’t bring her any higher. And that is a hard lesson but a real one and such a valuable perspective in the mythology. It means more because it comes from Sharon, someone who Steve was in love with, someone he values. All the UST flying around makes the stakes more than academic.
Sharon means more because she’s got no powers. She’s part of a conglomerate, really, the number #13, and there are dozens of agents like her who must die when the helicarrier crashes in every goddamn summer event. She means more because she gives that perspective a name and a face and a history. I love that she’s motivated by her Aunt Peggy’s stories, that as a girl she dreamed of being just like her. That she always wanted to be a soldier, not a ballerina or an actress or a lawyer or a wife. I love that it costs her so much to be in Steve’s life but she still wants to help him, wants it to be worthwhile, wants to do the right thing.
I mean that in and out of universe. She’s been killed off twice to give his story more weight. But in universe Sharon has gone through a hell meant for no ordinary person. She fights primary-colored robot Nazis and mundane human evil, and yeah, her world won’t let her be nice. But she keeps fighting, because she won’t be coddled or shielded, because her aunt kept fighting too. She is basically the most bad-ass person in the Marvel Universe. And, deep down, no matter how rightfully cynical the world has made her, no matter how little breathing room she has for mercy, she wants to be something else, wants to believe in the goodness of people, wants to be a patriot. It’s a give-and-take perspective with Steve, you see, but she has her reasons for sticking with him. (And I don’t really mean romantically, but if it bugs you when women have a crush on Captain America idk why you are on tumblr.)
I like her because people tell me I shouldn’t, too, let’s be honest. Every time someone dismisses a lady character for getting in the way of a ship, my ranting grows three paragraphs.