I saw the new Fantastic Four movie the other night. I know, I know, the reviews and ratings are atrocious, but I didn’t think it was that bad overall. I’ll admit, I’m not as knowledgeable of the Fantastic Four than I am, say, the X-Men, so my ignorance may have saved the movie for me. On that note, there may be some spoilers in this post for a movie that’s been out for a month already.
One of my favorite parts regarding the movie was Sue Storm’s character played by Kate Mara. Unlike the original Fantastic Four movies, Mara’s Sue was shown to be an intelligent scientist. Her character was a computer whiz, helping to create a teleporter and later shown to be tracking down Reed when he all but disappeared from the face of the Earth into an itty-bitty remote corner of the world.
One of the biggest praises I’ve seen around for Disney’s Big Hero 6 was that Honey Lemon and GoGo were positive role models showing girls that science it awesome and it’s certainly okay to be geeky. Sue Storm emulates that and it was beautiful. Her character has more important things on her mind than romance, such as saving her brother’s and friends’ lives with her skills and smarts when they decided to teleport to a strange dimension while drunk.
In the original Fantastic Four movie, one of Jessica Alba’s big scenes as Sue Storm was to slowly walk toward the male characters in her wetsuit-like skintight uniform that wasn’t too subtle in playing up her assets. She explained that the suits “acted as a second skin, adapting to your individual body’s needs,” and she hoped Reed would notice it working for her. Yes, Alba’s Sue was a scientist as well, but to the movie, she was Reed’s love interest first.
This reboot of Fantastic Four showcased Sue Storm as a more career-driven, independent woman, one who was as active on the battlefield as she was off it. Of course she still flirted with Reed (they’re a canon couple, after all!) once in a while, but she had her own agenda as well. She was a well-rounded person, having her own interests and goals that didn’t revolve around One Guy, and it was as refreshing as iced water on a summer day to see it.
Mara’s Sue reminds me of a particular piece of writing advice. As a writer, I see so many articles about having “Strong Female Characters.” This thinking indicates that, by default, a male character is strong because he’s a guy. By default, a female character is a prop for said guy. It’s still baffling to some that, hey, men and women are both people with a helluva range of emotions.
Forget about writing “strong, female characters.” Write about “strong people.”