Is there any good analysis about the trope where a young girl is forced to grow up as an ultra-amazing assassin, without humanity or agency, escapes/is rescued and must then deal with the fallout?
I’m talking about characters like Black Widow (and her Star Wars EU clone Mara Jade) and Illyana Rasputin, and especially about the examples around the year 2000 (very roughly speaking): Seven of Nine, Cassandra Cain, Laura Kinney, River Tam, Echo from Dollhouse, Cameron from Terminator SCC and others.
There’s definitely a lot to unpack and talk about there, and I’ve realized pretty quickly that I’m not smart enough to do it. Some points I’ve found interesting:
First of all, in capable hands, these can be really great stories. This kind of backstory produces characters who start out with a lot of internal conflict and with character development as a specific goal. Give that to someone who can act out all the subtleties - for TV a good actress, for comics a great writer and artist - and you have a lot of the elements you need for a good story.
There’s always an element of power fantasy; these women are more capable than most people around them.
To some degree, the character growth always happens through family, and speed of character development often matches how well the person’s peers work as a family. For example: Crew of the Firefly - excellen family, so River Tam is getting closer to okay pretty quickly. New Mutants - good family. Not without issues, so it takes some time for Illyana to open up. Her real family (her brother) is great but often absent. Batfamily: Okay family. It does take Cass quite some time to warm up with them. Logan and/or New X-Men: Pretty bad at being a family; Gambit and Jubilee have to be drafted as a replacement family before Laura’s character development goes anywhere. Crew of the Voyager: Almost no family at all, and a very slow growth arc for Seven of Nine as a result.
These women fight pretty explicitly against objectification. Their goal is to overcome their social limitations and reassert their agency. And that is constantly undercut by art and narrative that sexualizes and/or otherwise objectifies them, a contradiction that never seems to occur to anyone. There’s Seven of Nine’s skin-tight suit; there’s Black Widow using seduction to get what she needs; there’s Laura’s badly-written time as a teenage prostutitue, as we well as highly seuxalized art; there’s DC comics putting Cassandra Cain into a gimp mask.
Does the movie Sucker Punch count as an explicit deconstruction of this trope? It’s certainly not a flawless one, but it’s arguable that this is part of what’s going on there. Think about it: Ostensibly we’re watching hot young women fight for their freedom and agency. Except the amazing fight sequences are not actually expressions of their agency; they’re using this to distract the pervy audience that’s all too happy with the fundamental conflict above.
These stories come with a built-in moral absolution. The characters are all really, really sad about the evil they did and the murders they committed… but it wasn’t them, it was the programming by the evil men/Borg collective. As complexity goes… there could actually be more.
How much is this a thing that’s unique to female characters? There’s certainly an element of “Innocence Lost” that you don’t see as often in similar stories with boys. Basically, I am fairly certain this trope is sexist somehow - even beyond the objectification - but I can’t put my finger on the details.
What’s the overlap with the recent trend of gruff older men and their young daughters (Bioshock Infinite, The Last of Us, Dishonored)? There’s certainly some. The “Logan” movie shifts Laura right into that daughter role, but she’s been that (for Gambit) before, while Cass has the god-damned Batman as this (and he sucks at it). River Tam gets Malcolm Reynolds. This isn’t a necessary part of the trope, but it’s a frequent one.
Why did Seven of Nine never get her birth name back? For many others on the list, name as a part of individual identity is quite an important step. For that matter, why are there still people who insist on calling Laura Kinney “X-23”, aka the inventory number her tormentors used for her?
The best I can offer as a conclusion right now is that this is a weird little trope, with underpinnings that are most likely Problematic™, but that also provides a basis for some really interesting and compelling stories in the right hands. But I’d really like to see some more opinions and analysis of this.
Do you know what one of my favorite tropes is? It has to be done in a certain way for me, I tend to be fussy about it, but when it hits the right notes for me, it really sings to me, and that’s when I fucking love rough sex.
I especially love it between two characters who are gods, who are warrior gods, and for these two who have a lot of issues, because Thor loves his brother but he’s also angry at him and Loki is lashing out and goading Thor into rough manhandling of him because he wants all of Thor’s attention this way and just– Yeah, it does things for me. So, here, a list of some of my favorites!
The path ahead of Thor is shrouded in darkness, but his steps do not falter. The glass prisons, used to house Asgard’s most dangerous lawbreakers, have been blessedly empty for half a century, but there is now light at the end of the long corridor, and Thor is drawn to it like a moth to a flame. He knows he will get burned, he always does, but in the end, Thor cannot stay away.
→ Make Me by Arkada, thor/loki, NSFW, dub-con, rough sex, bondage, bdsm, loki in chains, 4k
Thor loves Loki, but there is only one way Loki will allow him to show it.
There’s a dark energy clinging to Thor’s skin. A darkness that Loki means to exploit, a darkness he will see Thor succumb to. A darkness he will see turned on himself, as he coaxes at that which he has long since desired.
The Thor/Loki fandom has been a lot quieter since CA2 came out, but that doesn’t mean there’s not still some really excellent fic to read in the fandom! Hell, it’s still spoiled me for how many amazing writers are in the fandom and how much really good, lengthy fic there is in the fandom!
I’ve done a few on this theme before, but it’s always a good one, because I love THOR/LOKI FAVORITES, these are those fics that stayed with me always, these are the fics that were just exquisitely written, these are the ones that I could read over and over again. These are the ones that I just couldn’t stop words from spilling forth about all the things I thought and felt while reading them! Sometimes that means really smoking hot porn, sometimes it means epic plot shenanigans, and often times it’s a mix of both.
Loki is too far gone, and barely seems able to hear him. The air hums with the charge of his seidr, bottling up inside him, unable to escape so long as he is bound within the enchanted cuffs, and the beast in him is still battle-hungry and furious. He requires release, and since he is not safe to be set free, Thor has only one other kind to offer him.
When Thor asks Loki to help him save Jane and Frigga after they are captured by Malekith, he knows that Loki will fight him every step of the way. Although Thor is ready for Loki’s lies, nothing can prepare him for the freezing touch of Loki’s jotun skin.
As the newly crowned king of Asgard, Thor’s life is filled with stress as he as he navigates political intrigue and struggles to figure out what kind of king he wants to be. Desperately in need of a night of relaxation, he finds himself at a brothel he used to frequent in his youth. It’s there that Thor spends an evening in the arms of beautiful courtesan named Loki, and his whole world changes in ways he never could have imagined.
After the Avengers, Thor thanked them for helping him retrieve his property. He didn’t mean the Tesseract. He meant his charming, clever, sarcastic thrall, who is currently furious and defiant and in need of (and looking forward to) a reminder of his place. At wonderful, exhausting length. Then Thor will be able to bring him back to his friends, introduce them to the real Loki, and… thank them properly.