Happy Valentines Day! To celebrate, here are some of my OTPs to end all OTPs (note, for this list I’m using canon/official couples). They are…
One criticism that pops up in a lot of media analysis is the Madonna/wh*re dichotomy: how ‘good’ female characters dress more modestly while ‘bad’ female characters dress more provocatively. Related criticisms include the femme fatale/evil seductress, who shows off more skin and dresses sexily.
Well, when I watch Teen Titans, I find an interesting subversion.
In the show, all the female Titans and Honorary Titans show a little bit of skin. We all know how Raven bears her legs and Starfire wears a miniskirt and shows her midriff, but all the other female characters show some skin too. Bumblebee bears her midriff and arms and wears fitting black pants and boots, Kole and Argent wear short skirts (with Argent showing her bare shoulders), and Pantha proudly shows off her muscly arms and legs.
There’s also a minor but very important character, Sarasim, who, when not wearing her full-body armour, wears significantly less clothing.
For the most part, none of these girls are sexualized.
By contrast, the important female villains are all completely covered up. And they use their wit and skill, rather than their bodies, to get what they want. The only female villains that show any skin are extremely minor villains with no speaking roles. (There’s also Kitten, who only shows a little skin when she’s wearing a ball gown on a date with Robin; in other scenes she’s covered).
This even extends to the heroines. When Starfire first came to Earth and posed a threat, she was fully clothed. But once she had settled on Earth and became a heroine, she wore the freer outfit we know her.
And of course, there’s Terra.
When she’s with the Titans, she wears shorts and at one point, shows her midriff:
Then, when taking over the world with Slade, she is completely covered up:
(I couldn’t find a better image, sorry)
Then, when her loyalty to Slade wanes, she starts showing skin:
I just find all this very interesting in terms of character design. I’m not sure if there was any intention to give the villains more clothing than the heroines or not. What do you think?
Marvel dominates the superhero scene, so for people who are looking for something different (or are in no rush to support a company with lots of whitewashing/racism, sexism, and Hydra Captain America), here are some other superheroes you can check out.
Based on the Dark Horse Comics (which I think they’re easier to get into since it’s one continuing series by the same author/artist, Mike Mignola), Hellboy is an intelligent, thought-provoking series, rich in religious and mythological symbolism and themes and a rather unique hero.
Brought to Earth by the Nazis with the purpose to bring about the Apocalypse but raised by a loving American father, Hellboy longs to be free from confinement, to mingle with people, and to be with his lover, Liz, but can’t be accepted by the world due to his appearance and questionable acts. While he’s rough around the edges, he has a good heart, and his love for Liz is pure. I strongly recommend supporting the two movies since a third Hellboy movie is having trouble seeing the light of day, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy what’s happening so far.
Based on an Argentinian comic, Cybersix is a moody, haunting, atmospheric, and beautiful animated series. It’s about a creation who is struggling to be human, falling in love, making friends, and fighting the evils of her creator. She’s also a great example of a female superhero that is sexy without being sexualized and is actually in control of her sexuality. The show lasted only thirteen episodes but every episode is solid. Please give it a watch. It’s very dear to my heart.
A DreamWorks film that starts out as a parody/deconstruction of the superhero movie but becomes a superhero film in its own right. Megamind, an alien who feels that he HAS to be the bad guy because people treat him as such, learns that being good is worth it and that he is about to be a hero despite all odds. While not spectacular, it’s still very enjoyable, and worth a watch at least once.
This movie pulls absolutely no punches. It’s very intense, very action packed, and even very adult at times, but the bond between the family and their struggles is what makes the film really good. I’m not sure if there’s much I can say that others haven’t, but, well, this movie is…incredible.
Teen Titans, the DCAU, and other DC properties
DC can be as problematic as Marvel at time, but I can say that these two properites are solid. Teen Titans is a perfect balance of comedy and drama, with lots of character development. Batman: The Animated Series is a classic, but other shows in the DCAU (especially Justice League/Justice League: Unlimited) also hold up really well. They are full of brilliant animation, gripping stories, and compelling characters. DC has also made a lot of animated movies, all of them varying in quality. From what I’ve seen, the better animated DC films are Batman: Under the Red Hood, Batman: Assault on Arkham, Supermna/Batman: Apocalypse, and Wonder Woman. There’s also independent superhero titles such as Watchmen. DC is very big so you’ll probably have to look around for stuff (and yeah, there are some gross/problematic DC properties) but those that are worth it are REALLY worth it.
THE POWERPUFF GIRLS
And I’m referring to the original show (from the first four seasons at least; I don’t think the last two seasons are very good) and NOT the reboot. It’s definitely a classic. It’s funny and clever with memorable characters. My favourite episodes are “Knock It Off” and “Members Only”, which are some of the greatest moments in TV.
Big Hero 6
No surprise here. While it has it’s ROOTS in Marvel history, it has become it’s own unique identity (and its production had absolutely nothing to do with Marvel, and any continuing products will not have Marvel’s involvement either). You can look through my Big Hero 6 category to get a good idea of why this film is worth it. Just watch it!
There are plenty of others out there that I know of (Spawn, Miraculous Ladybug, One Punch Man, to name a few). I haven’t seen them so I can’t really recommend them, but you can definitely take a look for yourself. You can start HERE to continue looking.
Here’s just a small list of Marvel alternatives. If you have more, feel free to mention them in the comments!
I must confess, it is much harder for me to watch shows (be it animated or live action) than movies because TV shows tend to be very long, hard to find, and I can sometimes lose interest. So, when I’m able to watch a show and actually stick with it, it becomes very special to me. Here are some of my faves (this time, I will include anime because honestly I don’t have enough ultimate fave American animated shows to make a top ten list). Here we go!
Note: This is referring entirely to the animated early 2000s Teen Titans TV series.
The two characters I relate to in this show the most are Starfire and Raven. Starfire is very energetic, passionate and expressive, can be very affectionate, but doesn’t take negativity very well and won’t take anyone’s crap. She has trouble with social cues and interactions but is very loyal to her friends. While I can see myself in her a lot, I’m not quick to label Starfire as autistic or otherwise neurodivergent what with her being an alien (what could be neurodivergent to humans could be totally neurotypical to her people, plus the show plays her as being more of a foreigner rather than someone with a disorder). That said, I relate to Raven because the way I see it, Raven is almost certainly autistic.
For starters, she displays a lot of characteristics common in people with Asperger’s Syndrome (a term that is contested within the autistic community, but known by most people as a specific brand of autism). She loves to read and is very intelligent, she prefers to keep to herself, isn’t very talkative, doesn’t like it when people are too loud or are touching her, is often very blunt and up-front with people, and has a rather monotonous voice and limited facial expressions. There’s also a scene where she says “I’m not creepy, just different”. She can be sarcastic, and while some autistic people (like myself) have trouble with sarcasm, others do not, so there’s that.
But one thing that I think is a heavy indicator of her being autistic is the fact that she NEEDS to meditate and keep her emotions (and possibly her stimming) under control.
In the show, if Raven gets too emotional (especially too angry), she becomes a bit more…demonic.
Contrary to popular belief, autistic people can be VERY emotional and empathetic. In fact, it’s pretty common for autistic people to have meltdowns in very emotional situations. Lots of autistic people (myself included) can be prone to hyperempathy, where the suffering of people we don’t even personally know can get beneath our skin. And this can easily be seen as the case for Raven. For context, Raven is the daughter of an evil demon and is destined to free him from, well, Hell, so whenever she gets too upset or angry she runs the risk of losing to him. So she has to meditate and keep her emotions carefully regulated (and as the episode “Nevermore” shows us, her emotions are VERY powerful). This could also possibly be seen as a way to regulate her stims as well (since stimming can cause autistic people to become ecstatic in addition to relieved), but your mileage may vary there, as she might have other, more subtle ways of stimming as well.
Thankfully in season five she has her father banished for good, and we see her slowly start to let her more empathetic and emotional side shine. Unfortunately, the show ended before we could see her truly access the full range of them or find a new way to stim (to be fair, season five was very focused on a continuing plotline, and she only really had one episode for character development; most of the season was focused on Beast Boy and meeting new Titans). But from what we do see, it’s clear that Raven is moving on from the abuse and limits.
On a side note, a part of me feels like maybe Beast Boy is autistic. Beast Boy is very insecure, latching onto people, and exhibits pretty much every symptom of combined ADHD and autism is a very common comorbidity with it. And Beast Boy always always ALWAYS reaches out to Raven the most. There are times when they have very special bonding moments too. I think it’s possible that they’re on two opposite ends of the autism spectrum and have trouble properly communicating with each other, but when they CAN, it’s a great experience for both of them. I could be biased since I’m a sucker for their relationship, but it’s still nice to think of two neurodivergents bonding in any way.
Raven is one of my favourite characters of all time. To me, she is an example of a neurodivergent-coded character done right, and is truly empowering and relatable. Be sure to check out the show (if you can, pay for it) and see for yourself!
In addition to being a huge fan of Disney, I am also a huge fan of the TV series Teen Titans. In fact, it is my favourite show of all time. It has great, well-developed, lovable characters, exciting action, interesting stories, dynamic animation and is overall very well written and fun. It was also a huge hit during its prime in the early 2000s, with 2 million viewers and a devoted fanbase. So of course, a movie would be inevitable.
After five seasons of waiting, fans of the hit show Teen Titans were finally granted their own feature length film, Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo. The reactions were…mixed, at best. As for how I personally felt, while I wouldn’t go as far as to call this film total crap, there are a lot of flaws in the movie that range from mildly annoying to seriously problematic.