Sugar, spice, and everything nice, with just a dash of that mysterious Chemical X; we all know what went into making the three Powerpuff girls. There was Blossom, the brainy and logical one; Bubbles, the whimsical, sweet one; and Buttercup, the tomboy of the group.
When Googling Buttercup, I found that was listed as the tritagonist, the third most important in the trio. I have to admit, I was a bit surprised at this. Considering she is the toughest fighter of the three, I would have assumed her ranking to be higher.
Buttercup doesn’t fit the standard girl role. Her “spice” gives her tomboy mannerisms, making her the tough and strong one, which are traditionally male traits and considered empowering in women. But it’s not her powerful traits that make me feel she’s important, it’s that she’s more distinguished from her sisters by being very heavily and very obviously flawed. She was usually the first to rebel, quick to anger, overly competitive, aggressive, and above all, she hated to apologize. Yet, despite lacking the charm and propriety of her siblings, she was still a valuable asset to her team.
In adult superheroes we see a lot of the men have obvious flaws from aggression, to inflated egos, to drinking issues. Yet, at the end of the comic or movie they are able to overcome those flaws, pull it together, and save the day. With an exception of a select few, most of the women have less obvious flaws or flaws that are considered feminine like trust issues, or stubbornness – which, let’s face it, is only considered a flaw if you’re a woman.
So, for a cartoon created in the 90s about three superhero girls in kindergarten, showing a girl character with such aggressive and often dislikable personality traits who was still able to play such an essential role in saving the day is important. It makes her important. It proves to girls of all ages that they can be just as flawed as anyone else, they can have traits that are typically considered negative, and they can still be a hero.