Lucy is a film about a woman who gains access to “100% of her brain.” She becomes a superhero, kills a bunch of bad guys, and then becomes a god kind of, which is how we do in Hollywood, now, all day / every day, and I’m not even standing here opposed. I mean, who would be standing here opposed? Look at this trailer.
Yes, the “100% of her brain” premise is very stupid and annoying and should go away. It’s lazy, pseudoscientific nonsense. But let’s set that aside for a moment, because this isn’t a superhero movie. Lucy stars a woman and is therefore, according to the internet, a female superhero movie. Phew! Now it’s worthy of a think piece.
Over at WIRED, Devon Maloney was vague in her specific criticism, but holds clearly that the “weaponized woman” trope is problematic to begin with (why?), and especially so with this movie, because “Lucy isn’t really about a female action star or one character’s liberation from the chokehold of Hollywood tropes—it’s about an idea.” And the idea Maloney takes to task, here, is not feminism. The director barely even talks about feminism! This is a movie about a woman fighting bad guys and she is not talking about how she is a woman! Lucy isn’t even defined by her femininity in this movie, you guys. She’s defined by her humanity. Wtf is this nonsense?!
Wait a minute.
Isn’t that a good thing? When was the last time a male superhero talked about his own gender in a searching, thoughtful way on film? Great superhero stories do tend to explore an aspect of our culture with some thoughtfulness, whether it’s Batman’s odyssey of the ‘Hero’ and his relationship to the city, Iron Man’s individuality and his complicated relationship with the American war industrial complex, or civil rights as center stage throughout the X-Men franchise. But why is every female superhero expected to comment on ‘women in society’?
Maloney defines her “weaponized woman” as a character whose abilities are “a) dangerous, b) either present from birth or given to her without consent, and c) exploited by adversaries for their own purposes.” This is a bad thing. We cannot have women running around being “weaponized,” okay? This is automatically anti-feminist! Women aren’t weapons, you guys, they’re women! They’re not male fantasies! They’re people, not ideas! And look at all of this coded sexism up in here, somehow, someway, or… actually I have no idea, because nobody seems able to make a compelling argument for why the weaponization of women in film is bad. Our knee-jerk reaction is simply that it is. A guy directed this film. Guys aren’t really being all that helpful re: women. This guy probably isn’t really being all that helpful re: women.
But of course the real problem, here, is we are once again discussing the treatment of women in a vacuum, free of thoughts concerning the treatment of men. How are we supposed to measure the treatment of women as equal or unequal if we have nothing to measure their treatment against?
From within an imbalanced gender framework, any data point can represent both the great height or abject failure of gender equality. So check it out: I could have told you at six-years-old, from beneath my mountain of comics, that every superhero is a weapon, and a whole shit ton of them became weapons because of some effed-up bad guys trying to use them for effed-up bad guy stuff!
Consider Akira. Consider Wolverine. Consider the Matrix’s Neo. Maloney’s description just about touches every great superhero, male and female, in existence.
This begs an interesting question. If we take away the weaponization of women in genre, what’s left? Well, in a superhero movie, where a feminist consumed by the question of her own femininity could probably not do much against, for example, the Sentinels, or the Terminator, or Galactus, for god’s sake, the answer is pretty clear: she’d have to play sidekick, or love interest, to a man.
And that sounds pretty sexist.
So please, internet, let a lady kick some ass.