Sex in Comics: Do female characters have to be thin to be sexy? (I’m looking at YOU, Amanda Waller)

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…or do they just want to make her look like a young Angela Bassett?

Image source: Suicide Squad #1 (2011). DC Comics

If you’ve been reading the new Suicide Squad series that debuted in DC’s New 52 wave, you may have noticed that Amanda Waller, previously one of comics’ full-figured first ladies, had gone thin. She was revealed at the end of the first issue, slim, trim, and, if you noticed, a tad sexy.

Now, pardon me for coming off like a big perv here, but in order for me to make my point, I’ve got to point something out here. In the panel I showed you, Amanda’s cleavage is in full display, and I think you can even see the impression her nipple makes in her shirt on the panel’s left side. And you just KNOW they did that stuff on purpose.

But, in the past, Amanda was famous for looking VERY different. Not only was she bigger, but she certainly didn’t run around letting her cleavage show, and I don’t think I ever saw her nipples through any of her shirts either. (But I haven’t seen EVERY Amanda Waller appearance, so it’s possible she may in fact have had her nipples popping out and her cleavage exposed while she was bigger).

The New 52 has seem some characters change from the way they were portrayed in the past, and Amanda’s now thinner, sexier, and she may in fact be younger. (Though it’s hard for me to tell on that last part).

It doesn’t bother me in the least that DC did this, by the way. In fact, I was ready to pat Amanda on the back and celebrate the fact that her Weight Watchers program seems to be working out. We want our comic book characters to be healthy, don’t we? (Which is why I’m concerned about Wonder Woman catching pneumonia in those daisy dukes). So I was quite happy that Amanda had slimmed down. And girl is ROCKIN’ those power suits.

But I’ve been doing some thinking. And I’m wondering why DC decided to do this anyway. People had enjoyed Amanda for the scheming, morally bankrupt government power player she was in the past, and they didn’t mind that she was overweight. I’m sure they wouldn’t have minded if she’d stayed overweight in the DC relaunch either. They probably would have expected her to look the same, which is why her new look got so much attention. Both ComicsAlliance and Robot 6 wrote about it, among other outlets.

Image source: Justice League America #27 (1989). DC Comics

I’m wondering if, now that she’s thin, DC will have scenes where Amanda is bed hopping with folks, or if there will be panels of her in skimpy outfits. This is common in superhero comics, by the way, so it’s no big deal. It’s just noticeable that they’d do this with her when they never did when she was hefty. And I think it highlights the question I posed above. Do you need to be thin to be sexy in comics?

This isn’t something that’s germane to comics or DC, really. It’s entertainment in general. Large ladies are usually not portrayed as desirable when they’re in TV shows or movies, either. It’s the big-girls-aren’t-pretty thing. Whether you agree or disagree with that mindset, or with my analysis of it, is another thing entirely.

But it’s also possible that DC made Amanda thinner so she’s look more like Angela Bassett, who portrayed Amanda in the film Green Lantern that came out this year. It could simply be the whole crossover media thing, which means that there’s no ulterior motive behind it other than consistency. DC honcho’s probably thought, “Oh, a famous actress is playing her in future comic book movies. Wouldn’t it be so COOL if we had her look the same way in the comics? HELL YEAH! Angela Bassett 4EVA, BABY!”

Well, they probably weren’t thinking about it exactly like THAT, but… you know what I mean. New superhero movies are like, everywhere these days, and they pay the bills, so why not imitate them? Bassett’s certainly not overweight, so if they wanted her comic avatar to look like her, they had to pay for Amanda’s gastric bypass. And it looks like it was money well spent.

 


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One Response to Sex in Comics: Do female characters have to be thin to be sexy? (I’m looking at YOU, Amanda Waller)

  1. Jim Moore says:

    Oh, that’s EXACTLY why they did it: to tie into the movie. And that sucks, because part of what made Waller such a great character was she was basically “Yeah, I’m fat, and you’re a bunch of supervillains with powers, and I’ll STILL kick your asses.” It was an intimidation thing. And hell, she was working under President Luthor, so it worked!

    I’m a big old-school Suicide Squad Waller fan, so perhaps my view is tainted…

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