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Before Buffy the Vampire Slayer became a tiny culty movie and a genre-defining TV show, it was based on a simple conceptual flip. In most horror movies, the cute blonde girl goes into a dark alley and dies; why not make her the hero? And, in turn, why not make her the hero of a female empowerment coming-of-age story? The TV show cast Sarah Michelle Gellar — who, ironically, played a couple cute blonde/dead girls in I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream 2 — as the titular Slayer, and created one of the most memorable heroines in TV history.
The Whedonography is filled with similar visions of female empowerment, like warrior woman Zoë on Firefly; to a certain extent, the fascinating-but-flawed Dollhouse can be read as an attempt to reconcile female empowerment in a world that relentlessly sexualizes women. And in The Avengers, Whedon retconned Iron Man 2 eye candy Black Widow into a genuine character, giving her more screen time than anyone besides Iron Man or Captain America. And the great what-might-have-been of superhero cinema was Whedon’s Wonder Woman, which he developed during the mid-2000s.
Image Credit: Diyah Pera; Richard Cartwright/WB
September 24 2013 — 12:00 AM EDT
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