7 Female Roles that were Written for Men Apr28

7 Female Roles that were Written for Men...

Men might be the harbingers of action and combat in many sci-fi movies, action shows, and video games, but some writers are stepping up to challenge these notions. Taking over a role that was originally intended for a man is one way to break the mold, and make us wonder why we need molds in the first place, since so many are lying about in pieces at these women’s feet. Here are seven roles originally written for men, but portrayed by women instead. 1. Samus Aran, Metroid The plot twist at the end of the first Metroid game reveals that the person in the armour (who you’ve been kicking ass with so far) is, in fact, a woman. But a lesser known fact is that the game developers hadn’t planned this surprise from the start and decided to add it in halfway through development, creating one of the most iconic women characters in video games today. “It is true that in developing the original Metroid, we were partway through the development processes when one of the staff members said, “Hey, wouldn’t that be kind of cool if it turned out that this person inside the suit was a woman?” So that’s how we decided on that. We’ve tried to express her femininity a little more without trying to turn her into a sex object.” —Yoshio Sakamoto 2. Toph Beifong, Avatar, the Last Airbender Known as the tiny blind girl who can throw boulders around with her earthbending prowess, this Avatar: The Last Airbender star was originally intended to be a large, muscled jerk. They even elude to this in the episode “The Ember Island Players,” where Team Avatar attend a play about their journey so far, and Toph is portrayed as a buff man. She was...

The Dark Art of Bloodbending Mar03

The Dark Art of Bloodbending...

What separates an extraordinary power from a dark art? There are enough dangerous powers in the Harry Potter series to fill a class at Hogwarts and enough in Star Wars to power the Dark Side of the Force. In those stories, darkness is characterized by how a power is used. The Unforgiveable Curses are illegal and Force Lightning is frowned upon because they lead the users down a dark path. Bloodbending is another dark power. In Avatar: The Last Airbender, bloodbending is explored in detail, including how it’s mastered. Katara encounters a bloodbender in the Season 3 episode “The Puppetmaster.” Team Avatar is travelling through the Fire Nation in disguise when they meet Hama, a waterbender from the Southern Water Tribe. Hama has been living among her enemies as an innkeeper. She doesn’t tell Katara the full story of her escape from a Fire Nation prison until the two of them are alone under the light of the full moon, the time when waterbenders are the strongest. Decades ago, Hama was kidnapped from the southern water tribe with other waterbenders and locked up. Similar to Magneto’s prison of plastic, her prison was kept entirely water-free, and her hands were bound when she was given water to drink. She finally devised an escape plan that relied on the full moon’s extra strength. “I realized that where there is life, there is water,” she says. “The rats that scurried across the floor of my cage were nothing more than skins filled with liquid, and I passed years developing the skills that would lead to my escape—bloodbending. Controlling the water in another body. Enforcing your own will over theirs. Once I had mastered the rats, I was ready for the men.” She used the technique on a...

42 Ways to Say “I Love You” in Geek Feb10

42 Ways to Say “I Love You” in Geek...

It’s the time of year for Love Potions, Heart Pieces, and those three magical words. (No, I’m not talking about “Use the Force” or “Beam me up.”) Whether you’re looking for a geeky way to ask your date out to a video game symphony, or planning to print your affections on a Luvdisc-shaped Valentine’s card, here are 42 ways to say “I love you” in Geek. (Why 42? Because it’s the answer to all mysteries in the universe, of course. And love may be the greatest mystery of them all.) 1. If you were a starter Pokémon, I’d choose you. 2. Are you a fairy? Because you fill all my heart containers. 3. All my base are belong to you. 4. I’d travel there and back again for you. 5. You’re my final fantasy. 6. I’d take an arrow to the knee for you. 7. I-it’s not like a l-like you or a-anything… b-baka—! 8. Be my Beka/Faye/Vincent Valentine. 9. Ruby is red, Neptune is blue, hope I get put on the same team as you. 10. You’re the hero Gotham deserves, and the one I need right now. 11. When I looked in the Mirror of Erised, I saw you. 12. You’re my precious. 13. SoH Dughajbe’bogh jaj rur Hov ghajbe’bogh ram. 14. Hello, Sweetie. 15. You are the center of my mind palace. 16. I know. 17. I’d volunteer as your tribute. 18. You were expecting Dio, but it was me—your Valentine! 19. Without you, who else will I have ice cream with? 20. With you, my life is 20% cooler. 21. *Wookie sounds* 22. You’re my player 2. 23. You fill me with determination. 24. Like a Headcrab, you’re always on my mind. 25. You’re the arc reactor to my heart....

Hymns and Heroes: 10 Matches Made in Heaven Oct07

Hymns and Heroes: 10 Matches Made in Heaven...

Not many fictional characters stumble into church (except to set the existential mood), and even fewer actually practice Christianity, unless we’re talking Nightcrawler or Nicholas D. Wolfwood. (No, Sephiroth, being a Jenova’s Witness doesn’t count.) But imagine if our favourite characters were—for no particular reason—suddenly forced to choose their epic theme songs from a hymn book (or else face cricket-chirping silence during their otherwise awesome advents). We’ve got a hunch that these 10 hymn-meets-hero mashups might, literally, be matches made in heaven: 1. Obi Wan Kenobi —”Higher Ground” He takes “plant my feet on higher ground” literally. Maybe if Anakin had given this hymn (or, y’know, his Jedi Counselors) a listen, he’d have fewer artificial limbs. 2. Prince Zuko — “Thine Honor Save” Change thy haircut whilst thou art at it. 3. Aerith Gainsborough — “Holy, Holy, Holy” That was the plan. To her credit, the evilest seraphim did eventually “fall down before her.” 4. Light Yagami — “Is My Name Written There?” You’ll know in about 40 seconds. 5. The Night Guard (Five Nights at Freddy’s) — “I’ll Stand By Until the Morning” …if I’m lucky. 6. Edward Elric — “Small Things Count” Except Ed isn’t “small”—he’s fun-sized. I hear arms and legs count, too. 7. Gandalf — “He Lives” And now he comes in more colours. 8. Link — “Must I Go, and Empty-Handed?” (1) Yes, though it is dangerous. (2) No, take this! 9. Goku — “Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand” 100,000,000. Now that’s a power level. 10. Ned Stark — “Winter is Coming” Yes, this is an actual hymn, though it’s more about ice than...

Being Earth, Wanting Air, Needing Fire Aug03

Being Earth, Wanting Air, Needing Fire...

I love thinking about what sort of character I would be in another universe. I’m pretty sure most geeks do, and we love talking about it—whether it’s retelling a recent exploit as a rogue in Dungeons and Dragons, choosing a lightsaber colour, or picking our backpack in Pokémon Go, we are fans of character specialization and creation. Therefore, after watching an episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender at one of Geekdom House’s Bible study nights, I was immediately intrigued by the question, “What kind of bender would you be?” It didn’t seem like a very in-depth question for study, but I was immediately too busy customizing my personal avatar (see what I did there) to focus on that. I hadn’t thought about this one before, and my answer was unexpected. My first inclination was water, and it’s true I do have some waterbending traits, like a calm personality and a desire to keep the peace. But then my mind went to earthbending and I realized that had to be me. Like all other bending, earthbending comes with its pros and cons. Recognizing them, being more aware of my personality traits, tendencies, and habits, can help me be a better friend, worker, leader, and God-follower. I can be incredibly stubborn and I don’t like change. I can dig in my heels when I don’t want to do something (which can be good if it’s something that is bad for me, but less good if it’s something I need to do). I face problems head-on, not because that’s my natural response—I’m more inclined to Aang’s trying to find different paths around an issue—but because I make a conscious choice to do so. I don’t like my tendency to indirectness, to hinting at an issue, to passive-aggressiveness,...

Zuko’s Prodigal Mom May09

Zuko’s Prodigal Mom

When I found out that there was a trilogy of graphic novels, The Search, that told the story of Zuko’s Mom from Avatar: The Last Airbender, I was desperate for it. The relationship between Zuko and Ursa appeared to be very tender and very formative of Zuko’s young life. I was intrigued by her character and was dying to know what happened to her. The Search takes place after the defeat of Fire Lord Ozai and the establishment of Zuko’s reign. Things are pretty peaceful in the Fire Nation, so having received some info on his mother, Zuko decides to go looking for her, leaving the kingdom under the watch of Uncle Iroh. He takes along his friends and Azula (who is completely nuts and seeking revenge on her mother) with him. Before Ursa had disappeared, she had been in some of the worst circumstances a woman could find herself—forced to marry a cruel and abusive man she didn’t love and required to publicly play the part of a princess that she never wanted to be. She attempted to protect her children from her husband’s tyranny and ultimately had to abandon them for their own sake. So much of motherhood is forgiving and being forgiven, forgetting and choosing not to forget. After she runs away, Ursa goes back to the town she grew up in and reconnects with the man she wanted to marry, Ikem. Having rediscovered her true love, she also becomes aware of a spirit called the Mother of Faces. The Mother has the ability to change the appearance of anyone, which seems like a good idea for someone being hunted by the Fire Lord. Ursa is conflicted with whether she should stay away or watch her children from afar. Ursa: There’s so much about my life in the royal palace that I want to leave behind…but I’m a mother now. You understand? I can’t leave my children behind. But, if I got a new face… a new identity… maybe I could return to the capital city undetected! Maybe I could at least see my children again… make sure they’re okay! Ikem: But what then? Would you stay in the city, hoping to catch a glimpse of them from time to time? Watch them grow up from afar? What kind of life is that? Ursa: You don’t know what it’s like. They’re always here. A part of me wonders what they’re doing… wonders if they’re happy or sad or in pain… always. It’s torture. The Mother of Faces offers Ursa a new mind, as well as a new face. She will have the opportunity to forget all of her painful memories. I’ll admit—I’ve spent my whole life wishing for a different face, and the idea of forgetting everything and starting over is, at times, extremely attractive (I have not been above threatening to run away from home from time to time). But I know because of the crazy love I have for my kids, I couldn’t actually go through with it if I was offered the opportunity. Ursa, on the other hand, makes the choice to forget herself and her children—she takes on a new face, a new mind, and a new name. Zuko and the gang are successful in discovering Ursa (now named Noriko) and when she is confronted with the story of who she really is, her memory is recovered. She is able to be reconciled to who she is, and to her son who never stopped loving her and never gave up on finding her. I believe that his selfless love, in part, made her able to embrace her true self—to become who she was meant to be. In their recovery of one another, they are both healed in memory—not losing it, but being restored to joy by accepting it. The idea of forgetting everything and starting over is, at times, extremely attractive. Motherhood is...

The First Avatar Mar18

The First Avatar

The Avatar was born from two desires: to change a circumstance and to right a wrong. Ten thousand years before Korra and Aang, there lived a man named Wan who was not content to live in poverty while others hoarded their wealth. His story is told in two episodes of The Legend of Korra Season 2, Spirits. In “Beginnings,” Parts One and Two, we learn that, during Wan’s time, humanity is fractured and at war with the spirits. Humans live in cities built on the backs of giant lion turtles, who protect them from the Spirit Wilds. Benders as we know them do not exist; people receive the gift of whatever element their lion turtle possesses only when they need to venture into the Spirit Wilds to hunt for food. Upon returning to the city, they are required to give the element back. Wan, however, ends up befriending the spirits. Not willing to accept his poverty, he devises a plan to change his own life: he joins the next hunting party to the Spirit Wilds and receives the gift of fire. When they get to the Spirit Wilds, Wan pretends to be too scared to go on and the hunting party sends him back. But, he does not return his fire to the lion turtle and, instead, uses it to lead a rebellion against the wealthy folk in the city. The rebellion fails and Wan is banished. He accepts this, but asks the lion turtle to let him keep the fire so that he can protect himself in the Spirit Wilds. The lion turtle agrees. The spirits are wary of Wan at first. But, after he rescues a cat deer from hunters, the spirits accept him and he spends the next two years living...

Leaves from the Vine Feb10

Leaves from the Vine

When I think of all-encompassing love, three things that come to mind are Pai Sho, sage advice, and copious amounts of tea. Uncle Iroh isn’t an obvious character, one that stands out at first. He’s not the protagonist of Avatar: The Last Airbender and neither is he the main antagonist; those perspective titles belong to Aang and Zuko. Rather, Iroh is a supporting character, and for the first season of the show, he seems to be relegated to the position of comedic relief. He is more often the cause of Zuko’s anger than not. As viewers, we’re too busy laughing at him ogling over gaudy statues in a pirate’s ship to see that there’s perhaps more to him than his rotund physique. His story unfolds slowly, but Uncle Iroh is nothing if not patient. We don’t learn much about him in the first season because the show is laying the groundwork for Zuko’s story; he’s the one pursuing Aang, and he’s the one we need to worry about. Iroh tags along and gets in Zuko’s way. It’s not until Season Two that we learn that Iroh lost his son, Lu Ten; that as the eldest, Iroh should have been the next Fire Lord but his brother overruled him; that he has suffered just as much pain and loss as Zuko. Without Iroh’s steady, unwavering, constant support, Zuko would have been consumed by his anger. What I find endearing about Iroh is that he endeavours to be what Zuko needs, no matter how often his nephew pushes him away. Iroh is Zuko’s unwavering support. We see this in small ways at first: he defends Zuko to the crew when they think he’s being reckless and selfish. When Zuko attempts to kidnap Aang in the North...

Earthbending stereotypes Jan04

Earthbending stereotypes...

“My daughter is blind! She is blind and tiny and helpless and fragile. She cannot help you!” Toph Beifong’s father describes the convention of portraying disabilities in television. Typically, mainstream television shows depicts characters with disabilities through one-off episodes. These characters are admired for their courage, but pitied for the disadvantages they face on a daily basis. The stories almost always focus on the character’s disability and how this teaches the main character something about life, and rarely on the disabled person’s abilities, personality, or accomplishments. Few shows, if any, challenge that stereotype better than Avatar: The Last Airbender. When Aang and his friends are searching for an earthbender powerful enough to teach the Avatar everything he will need to know, they attend Earth Rumble VI, an earthbending tournament held underground in a giant arena. They watch huge men pummeling each other with rocks until the final round, where the reigning champion known as the Blind Bandit shows up. “I am the greatest earthbender in the world! Don’t you two dunderheads ever forget it.” The Blind Bandit turns out to be a tiny girl who is literally blind. She uses her abilities to sense vibrations through the earth in order to tell where her enemies are. And of course, she beats the hulking champ, “The Boulder” to a pulp in the final round. After she disappears when the tournament concludes, Aang uses clues from a vision to find her, and discovers she is the only child of a wealthy couple who treat her with kid gloves; they allow her to learn earthbending, but only at beginner levels, hire servants to blow on her soup when it’s too hot, and make sure her walks (within the confines of their property, of course) are supervised. When her help...

Azula: villainous femme fatale Oct26

Azula: villainous femme fatale...

Few things highlight great heroes like great villains. Villains bring conflict. They force the heroes to fight, challenge their beliefs, and often leave them physically and emotionally scarred. Some villains were once heroes, and tragically fell when they could no longer bear the burdens of this life. Others, so it seems, were born evil the same as I was born with brown eyes. These villains in particular take on universal characteristics, giving them a larger than life stature in the stories they haunt with their dog-kicking and fridge-stuffing. One villainous femme fatale worthy of special mention is Avatar: The Last Airbender’s Princess Azula. Every time the teenaged Azula makes her debut in Book 2: Earth, I can’t help muttering: “Ugh. She’s the worst.” Princess Azula, voiced by the talented Gray Delisle, is the daughter of Firelord Ozai and Princess Ursa and the younger sister of Prince Zuko, Avatar’s antihero. After Zuko fails to capture Aang in the first season of the show, the Firelord dispatches Azula to hunt down him and his friends once and for all. Azula threatens the heroes of Avatar on several fronts. As a prodigious firebender possessing the full financial and military backing of the Fire Nation, she is a constant physical threat. At the battle outside the walls of Ba Sing Se, Azula betrays friends and enemies alike.Azula manages to get her claws on Avatar Aang. While many stories use such instances to give the villain a monologue or have them throw the hero into some pit they’ll inevitably bust out of, Azula, with a smirk, goes straight for the kill. Aang is luckily saved by some falling rocks, not by Azula’s ineptitude. Azula is a genius sociopath who firmly believes in Avatar’s versions of Divine Right and Manifest...