For me and so many others, life as a young, troubled adolescent girl was tough. The tween and teen years are so hard as you try to figure out who you are, where you fit in, and who you want to be. There is so much stress in just being comfortable in your own skin and accepting who you are.
We struggle so much with comparing ourselves to others and wanting to be accepted. Come to think of it, a lot of those things can translate into adulthood, too. There are still cool tables, believe me, though maybe not as obvious now.
Growing up, I didn’t have amazing online resources or social networks to connect with, and though I did have friends, I was very insecure and didn’t feel like I had very many role models or people I could identify with. Unless you count my Sweet Valley High books, featuring the beautiful and idyllic twins, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Those books were good for entertainment, but not exactly what I saw in the mirror, if you know what I mean.
I never really got into comic books because I didn’t think they were aimed at me, but had I known about of all of the powerful female Marvel characters I could have closely identified with as a youth, I think I could have been hugely into comics.
It wasn’t until the X-Men movies came to the big screen that I realized just how relatable several of the female characters were for me, even to this day. I still find myself needing reassurance that others in shoes similar to mine can triumph.
I don’t have a daughter to watch the X-Men movies with, but I really enjoy watching them at home with my house full of young boys, ages 8, 3, and 35 (my husband is a huge fan, too).
Today more than ever, it is important that kids see powerful male and female characters and know that maybe the biggest goal in life isn’t fitting in, but embracing how they are unique and celebrating the gifts they have.
I love that there now seems to be a stress on strong female role models for young girls in the media. I was also glad to hear that Spider-Woman has re-emerged in comic-book form, and I hope one day she translates to the big screen as a main character.
I favor the mutants of the X-Men movies because they they are outcasts struggling with their own identities, but they fight for what’s right and use what they have because they know something bigger is at stake. They are painfully human in their struggles, and I think we choose our favorites based on how much of ourselves we can see in them.
These specific characters spoke to me for various reasons …
How Storm works to express her emotions …
I like Storm for her strong, confident loyalty and strength. She can always be counted on and is a powerful figure at the forefront of every battle, strongly united with her team. She is a strong woman of color that embodies hope, and she has the ability to create intense weather conditions, which also makes for amazing special effects in the movies. And in my mind, there is a symbolism of being able to take the tumultuous swirling cyclone of emotions within you and project them outward. What girl wouldn’t be able to identify with that?
The loneliness Rogue experiences …
Rogue came to the Xavier School as a teen and she has such an innocence to her. She has the ability to absorb the energy and memories of others through her skin, and she really struggles with knowing she harms other people simply by touching them. She nearly killed her boyfriend while trying to share a simple kiss with him. She has to learn to control the power of her gift while mourning a lack of needed closeness with others. I think loneliness is something we can all identify with.
How Jean Gray struggles with whom to trust …
Jean Gray is one of the most powerful mutants in the X-Men series with the gift of telekinesis and telepathics. She can pick up any object, large or small, and do anything she wants to with it with her mind, meaning endless possibilities for good or evil with temptations at every turn. I think a lot of us can relate to being faced with so many important choices every day and not being entirely sure of whom to trust.
How Black Widow brings hope that your dark past doesn’t need to define you …
I also have a really healthy respect for Natasha Romanoff (a.k.a. Black Widow from The Avengers). She started out as a villain, a Russian spy sent to infiltrate Iron Man’s premises and secrets, but in several interesting turns of events, she ended up joining and becoming an integral part of the good guy’s team. She is a highly skilled combatant and a master of getting information, and I think she brings hope that you can still end up in a better place despite a dark upbringing. She also dates The Incredible Hulk, which is definitely no small task.
So even as an adult woman, I think it’s still important to see women in powerful leadership roles, and I think that is conveyed really well in The X-Men and The Avengers movies. Each character has their own unique set of problems, but they keep fighting the good fight and rising above to triumph.
They keep trying and getting back up. Just like we do in real life. And that’s a great message for everybody.
Captain America: Civil War will be available on Disney Movies Anywhere, Digital HD and Blu-Ray September 13.More On