This is a mostly unspoken characterisation trope that is more often than not subtexted rather than clearly played. It is the logical outcome of Closer to Earth
as well as The Unfair Sex
, to an extent.
If you look up the ratio of female BigBads
in comparison to that of males, major antagonists are Always Male
. Less noticeable in series that are specifically aimed at a female audience, yet it is not uncommon to see the actual Big Bad
as male in such series as well.
Additionally, it appears that most female baddies are either Mooks
- thus eligible for the infamous High Heel-Face Turn
- have rather petty goals or are Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains
. If not, they often have a Freudian Excuse
to explain their evil. In comparison, most Complete Monsters
are male and generally have no other excuse than being downright evil and selfish to the marrow of their bones.
As said above, women being Closer to Earth
and automatically less evil than males, only men seem to develop enough ambition
to actually let go of any compunction they may have had and cross gleefully the Moral Event Horizon
right into Neutral Evil
. Also, as said above, evil men are more often than not bombastic
in their goals, evil women are generally more subdued. Strangely, Beauty Equals Goodness
doesn't matter since even ugly villainesses are still less of a threat than their male counterparts.
In return , it seems female heroes, even when not being the main character, can be just as good-hearted and virtuous as their male counterparts, sometimes just as Badass
and efficient. Closer to Earth
applying here as well, they can even be the most virtuous of the party.
This assumption about men's inclination for evil and violence is so deep-rooted and pervasive it is also subtexted in heroic types such as the Byronic Hero
, Heroic Sociopath
which are overwhelmingly cast as male. Likewise, healers
, Shrinking Violet
, Morality Chain
and other caring and generally unfamiliar with violence or evil are almost always female.
This trope is made even more egregious when you know that Most Writers Are Male
. Maybe this view comes from their own assessment of their gender or maybe they don't feel as much animosity towards females than towards males. Still, it is clearly a Double Standard
that supports two Unfortunate Implications
: a) Males are inherently more evil than women and are driven by selfishness even when they are on the side of Good. b) Evil women are not evil enough to pose a real threat to a Five-Man Band
or a Nakama
Can be considered as the Spear Counterpart
to Closer to Earth
- Many male superheroes only have males as their arch-enemies.
- Spider-Man has only males in his Rogues Gallery. Only the villainesses Shathra and Donna the Symbiote were actually dangerous but neither had goals beyond confronting him.
- Daredevil's villainesses are generally evil in a smalltime way. Even the dangerously psychotic Typhoid Mary is not evil because she chose to be, but because Daredevil inadvertently incurred her madness.
- Iron Man counts one aversion in the person of Madame Hydra and, in a way Sunset Bain. Yet the latter, for being utterly amoral and manipulative, is still mostly a mere annoyance due to being a rival in his day-to-day business.
- Batman's villainesses all have a Freudian Excuse.
- X-Men's villainesses are less prone to this but, up until the creation of Cassandra Nova, no female was actually dangerous enough to be taken seriously. The recent surfacing of Selene has subverted it by giving her a true God complex which is still rare for evil women.
Manga & Anime
Live Action Tv
- James Bond is one of the few films averting this.
- Most films feature a male antagonist, even if the protagonist is a female.