I finally got to see Captain America recently. Jumping on jets and taking them out with just his shield Old Cap is pretty spry for a guy in his nineties. Only it’s Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow who steals the movie even with all that geriatric shield chucking. The character started as just one more taste in the Marvel stew and Johansson deadpanned her way into being the only ordinary girl in the superhero boys club. It reminded me a lot of the way the women of Westeros are turning out to be some of the most kick ass characters on the show. This despite being stuck in a medieval plot where taking your skirt off is pretty much all that’s expected of a woman.
So how would some of my other favorite women of fiction fare in Westeros? I started making some comparisons and came up with some surprising conclusions. If you don’t think Ramona Quimby would do well travelling the land with Needle and the Hound then you’d better let me know. I had a blast putting this list of comparisons together and then included some characters I’d like to see in Game of Thrones. I tried not to go for the obvious choices. For one thing I ruled out any chick in chainmail unless they had a dam good reason to wear a metal bikini. Who knows, in the final analysis maybe Leslie Knope would be greatest Queen to ever sit on the Iron Throne.
There are some short bios after the slideshow in case anyone needs a memory jolt. (Or you’re not one of the seven people who actually watched Blakes 7 outside of Britain) Feel free to argue with all my choices and suggest better ones.
Ramona Quimby (Ramona Series of books) – Who doesn’t love Ramona Geraldine Quimby? In the many books by Beverly Cleary she tries her hardest to make her parents proud even when times are tough. She’s anxious, curious, imaginative and manages to annoy almost everyone around her. A girl in a rush to grow up things don’t always go as planned for Ramona
Claire Underwood (House of Cards) – Played by Robin Wright on Netflix’s web based television series Claire Underwood isn’t just another pretty face like her English counterpart. She’s a vital member of the ultimate power couple. Michael Dobbs compares the relationship between Frank and Claire to Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Despite claims to the contrary Robin Wright says that Claire Underwood is not modeled on Hillary Clinton.
Michonnne (The Walking Dead) – A mysterious woman with a Katana who appears with two armless, jawless zombies chained together as pack mules. Despite objections that the character is yet another “Magical Negro” Michonne, as played by Danai Gurira, is one of the most popular characters on the television show. The comic book version has been voted #86 in the top 100 comic book hero list on IGN. Michonne always gets back up and keeps fighting.
Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) – Lizzie Bennet is considered to be one of the most beloved characters of English Literature and was the favorite of her author Jane Austen. The second eldest of the Bennet sisters is able to rise above the spiteful rigid society she lives in through wit and honesty. Love in her parents marriage is short-lived. Seeing this example, Elizabeth is determined to marry for true love and not just because of money but family circumstances seem to require otherwise.
Countess Violet Crawley (Downton Abbey) – Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham is the matriarch of the Crawley House by her marriage to the late Earl of Grantham. A woman with a firm grip on everything, honor and family are her main motivations. Sarcastic and competitive she does has a sensitive side and is known as a fair woman who stands up for her beliefs.
Dorothy Gayle (Wizard of Oz) – An orphaned girl from Kansas who made several trips to the magical land of Oz Dorothy is ingrained in the culture as portrayed by Judy Garland but she’s not limited to the movies having appeared in 14 books by L. Frank Baum and numerous other works of fiction including Dr. Who. It’s a long and dangerous trip down the yellow brick road any way you look at it.
Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables) – Another Anne Shirley fan Lennie Goodings, a publisher for Virago Press, chose Anne as her favorite fictional character, stating, “The feisty, funny and above all unabashedly passionate Anne of Green Gables…[she] faces the world with absolutely nothing but the sheer force of her personality. Lennie isn’t alone in loving the red haired orphan girl from Prince Edward Island.
Ellen Ripley (Alien Franchise) – Often regarded as one of the best female protagonists of all time Ripley redifined gender roles particularly in the science fiction, action and horror genres. Simply put she was the first female character not defined by the men around her or her relationship to them. None of the writers of Aliens ever had to apologize when Ripley appears in her underwear because it always made sense.
River Tam (Firefly and Serenity) – A child prodigy, intelligent and athletically gifted, River was transformed into a secret weapon before being rescued by her brother Simon.The crew of the Serenity becomes her extended family despite the mental instability caused by Alliance experiments. Virtually unstoppable in her warrior fugue state River uses a fighting style that’s gracefully balletic and deadly.
Lisbeth Salander (Millenium Trilogy “The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo”) – The survivor of a traumatic childhood, Lisbeth is introverted, asocial and has difficulty making friends. She’s particularly hostile to men who abuse women and takes special pleasure in exposing and punishing them. Stieg Larsson stated in interviews that he based the character of Lisbeth Salander on what he imagined Pippi Longstocking might have been like as an adult.
Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Battlestar Galactica) – In the reboot of the Battlestar Galactica series no other character evolved as much as Starbuck. Originally the hard drinking hard fighting Starbuck doesn’t value her own life but by the end of the show she’s prepared to sacrifice everything out of respect for all life. USA Today described her as “the broken warrior, a young, idealistic soldier who has been fighting for all the right reasons, but has lost something along the way.”
Annie Wilkes (Misery) – Kathy Bates won the Academy Award for Best Actress portraying Annie Wilkes. A nurse by training Annie has become one of the cultural stereotypes of nurse as torturer and angel of death. Cunning, brutal and devious Annie hides her psychotic nature behind a cheerful facade. Forensic psychologist Reid Meloy said that Wilkes’ personality (as portrayed by Kathy Bates) is a virtual catalog of mental illness.
Servalan (Blake’s Seven) On a show where the line between good and evil is blurry at the best of times it’s difficult to figure out the sincerity of Servalan’s battle against moral decadence and chaos. Display feminine vulnerability? The Supreme Commander of the Terran Federation is more likely to crash land on a hostile planet wearing an evening gown, make out with a wanted criminal, flirt with her hosts daughter then shoot that host in the back before starting an arms trade with the natives.
Joan Crawford (Mommie Dearest) – A noted Oscar-winning actress that fought both the studio system and entrenched chauvinism in the business world Joan was at one time the highest paid woman in the United States. Crawford adopted five children and had an acrimonious relationship with the two eldest. Hher daughter Christina wrote the tell-all memoir Mommie Dearest depicting Crawford as emotionally and physically abusive. The over the top performance of Faye Dunaway as Mommie Dearest has since become a cult classic with the wire hanger scene especially remembered.
Karen Blixen (Out of Africa) – Best known for her autobiography Out of Africa, the account of her life in Kenya, Blixen was widely respected by contemporary authors such as Ernest Hemmingway. Out of Africa describes her marriage of convenience to Baron Bror Blixen and their move to Africa to run a coffee plantation. The film tells the story as a series of six loosely coupled episodes from Karen’s life and takes liberties with the actual events but it’s unquestionably a story of a unique woman breaking free of what was thought of as the woman’s role in life.
Helena G Wells (Warehouse 13) – Just the idea alone that H.G. Wells could have been a woman was enough but Warehouse 13 gives us a delightful character that’s kind of a science fiction Sherlock Holmes. Not only a woman with deductive reasoning powers H.G. Wells leaps into action with a martial art similar to Kenpo. She’s the real anchor of the whole series and Jaime Murray plays the role with a saucy flair. Myka is not the only one who will love H.G. forever.
River Tam is one of my favorite characters. Remember she was stubborn enough not to lay down and rest even when a teacher told her to. She could be placed in Westeros and come out on top.
Good article and thoughtful too.
Sansa could use a little of that Elizabeth Bennet snark, to be honest.