Why we need more female big bads in fiction
By now, the big reveal for Dr. Strange in the Multiverse should be common knowledge. If not, be warned there are spoilers ahead....
Walking into the sequel to Dr. Strange everyone expected Scarlett Witch to be lending a helping hand to our favorite wizard. Much to our surprise, Wanda is actually the main villain of the movie. This shocking turn of events was a welcome twist. First, it was executed well enough to be a surprise and second, because there are so few female big bads in fiction.
Other than a few exceptions you often see the main antagonists in film, TV, and books as an older dude with an army at his disposal. More often than not he is usually the mastermind behind a big plot but he needs a wall of soldiers to fight for him. Sometimes, given the circumstances surrounding a story, he will be a dangerous element unto himself. An all powerful god or superterrorist that seems impossible to destroy.
It's played out. Let me tell you why with this example:
I was reading the final installment of Dean Koontz Jane Hawk series recently. The book is sectioned off with multiple characters including 3 very specific villains. The problem I ran into immediately upon reading the chapters with the villains is that they all read exactly the same.
Crazy guy who doesn't follow the rules and enjoys killing people.
When I got to the 3rd photocopy of this big bad I've seen a thousand times before I started to think how much more interesting it would be to have at least one of these guys be a woman. Let's take the hitman, for example. You don't often expect a hired hitter to be female. She would be unassuming while still carrying the traits Koontz needed to move the story along. Instead, I not only found myself getting confused on which villain was which, but I also got bored pretty quick.
Yes, the so-called facts state that most serial killers and murderers are men. But we're talking about fiction here and the great thing about fiction is the opportunity to push boundaries. Bella Mafia is a great example of breaking the norm. The story follows the widows of a major crime family in Italy who is seeking revenge for the murders of their husbands. In other words, the ladies are the ones calling the shots.
I would like to see a female at the helm of the next fictional drug cartel or leading a faction intent on ruling the world. Or even a Hans Gruber type of individual that is calling the shots during a massive theft. This is NOT an endorsement to remake Die Hard, but you get my meaning. I just believe that women can be equally awful enough to drive a plot...maybe even more wicked sometimes. The Scarlett Witch proved that point, now let's see more of it.
"Original Cyn" Cynthia Vespia writes fantasy novels for deviant minds including urban fantasy vigilantes and heroic adventure fantasy. Cyn is also a freelance content writer and uses the art of storytelling to help brands engage their target audience through Original Cyn Content.