The Powerpuff Girls are Badass and The Guardian is Wrong

powerpuff girls

The Guardian recently released an article titled “A Batman v Joker movie could make Marvel’s Avengers look like the Powerpuff Girls.”  But their attempt to insult the MCU kinda falls on its face because the Powerpuff Girls are badass.

I get what the author of such a piece was attempting to do. The DCEU hasn’t had nearly the same success as the MCU has, but the possible Batman and Joker movie could have potential to step up the entire franchise. In an attempt to convey just how much this film could surpass the MCU in terms of quality, he reached for the lowest quality story in the hero genre he could think of: The Powerpuff Girls. And frankly, he’s way off using this as an example of a low-quality hero story because it’s frickin amazing.

Curiously the article doesn’t expand on what the author means with this comparison. I guess that since the show primarily appealed to young girls and not the typical superhero audience demographic, it’s not a worthy hero narrative. But honestly, their ability to embrace their femininity in their individual ways while still defeating bad guys left and right is a huge part of why the story is so incredible. It empowers children of all genders and tells them that they too can be heroes just how they are.

“Townsville’s saviors never gained any special powers from their femininity,” Kayla Cobb wrote in her piece ‘The Powerpuff Girls’ Was A Feminist Masterpiece Before It Was Cool.’ “Rather, they happened to be varying degrees of feminine and they happened to fight crime.”

Each of the three Powerpuff Girls present quite different versions of femininity, giving little girls everywhere options for which of them they more closely identify.

“Blossom, commander and the leader
Bubbles, she is the joy and the laughter
Buttercup, she’s the toughest fighter
Powerpuffs save the day…”

I personally identified as Bubbles for a long time (about the same time I was hardcore into Baby Spice), but as I grew older and started to drift a bit, I latched onto Buttercup. I was much feistier as a teen and a bit more tomboyish. Now as an adult, I’m firmly a Blossom as leadership and commanding group projects is basically my thing. I’ve evolved, but I’ve always been able to find something to relate to with these characters. With the ability to relate to them, I have always been just a bit empowered when I see them kick ass and take names all over the place.

In Sesali Bowen’s article ‘How The Tiny Powerpuff Girls Became Huge Feminist Icons‘ it’s pointed out that “with three personality options to choose from, The Powerpuff Girls proved that women are not monolithic creatures with the same interests and perspectives.”

powerpuff girlsThe argument can be made that the Powerpuff Girls presents a generally feminine point of view for young girls and that focusing too much on typical ‘girly’ tropes could be limiting. Buttercup is the most tomboyish girl on the team, but even then she’s distinctly feminine in her green dress and white leggings. This could easily be seen as relying far too heavily on the gender binary and I totally get that critique.

Despite this, there was still a lot of gender-bending and narrative questioning of gender norms to be had in the show. While it was sometimes played for laughs, that wasn’t always the case. When told by Major Glory that boys and girls should have distinct roles, the girls push back.

“Who cooks the meals?”

“Our dad!”

“Who does the laundry? Who does the dishes? Who bakes the cakes?”

“Our dad!”

“Then who mows the lawn and washes the car?”

“Bubbles!”

Bubbles is, of course, the most stereotypically feminine of the three, and yet she does the heavy lifting around the house. Because screw your binary and gender expectations. Cute feminine girls can do stereotypically male tasks and their father can do stereotypically female tasks. For them, there are no “girls” chores and “boys” chores. There are just chores. Anyone can do anything. This is empowering for all children of any gender.

The Avengers wish they could be as empowering as the Powerpuff Girls. Sure, they are the most successful film franchise in the world, but they still struggle when they attempt to portray anything that goes against typical binary gender and heterosexual tropes (though that may change). In a way, the Powerpuff Girls were way better at this than they were and gave me an incredible starting point for embracing who I really am and believing that I could do anything.

With a little luck, maybe the Batman and Joker film might look a bit more like the Powerpuff Girls.

Author: Angel Wilson

Stephanie “Angel” Wilson is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3.



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