Frank Miller Recent 'Cursed' Move Is A Step Forward For Woman Empowerment
For a comic book writer like Frank Miller whose entire career could be defined by projects related to empowered male superheroes, it must be challenging task to highlight a female protagonist or take a risk at least for a female superhero.
But in his latest comic book-turned-series Cursed, the 63-years-old comic legend has suppressed the historically accepted male protagonist—that being King Arthur.
And while doing that, he has given the limelight to a female protagonist named Nimue or the Lady of the Lady. Her purpose in the series is to fight for love and empathy. She is against the ones who threaten her people. She is capable of winning a fierce battle against her foes on her own.
In simple terms, she is a realistic version of a female superhero who stands out for what matters to a woman the most—empathy, love, and equality for all. She is a tough opponent and has trained hard to be the individual she is in the series. Of course, she has powers; but she is not able to control it entirely in the initial stages of her plot.
She only gets stronger, controls her power, works around her fear as a woman, and battles as an individual of a suffering tribe just to fight for the people she loves.
But what might be be the reason for Miller to move out of his comfort zone and deliver something that he’s not known for?
One of the prime reasons for this progressive change in his work is the current demand for equality amongst males and females in all dimensions of life.
In most of his works, Miller—who was born and raised in the mid-1950s—built upon the tales of the male-dominant world and male courage—much like every person of that generation practiced.
Just see the endless list of his male superheros who have been highlighted in his notable works, including The Dark Knight Returns, Daredevil, Elektra, Wolverine, Ronin, 300, and Sin City. All these male narratives from him and the others are what have driven the superheros or the overall film industry for years.
Indeed, there have been few projects that have solely highlighted the tales of a female superhero or an important female protagonist. But the numbers aren’t enough. We should realize that women aren’t a fringe population, and they also deserve equal importance in any aspect of society.
In Miller’s career as well, he has featured important female characters, but the numbers are not convincing. Before Nimue on Cursed, Miller had one or two female characters who were physically strong and showed promise. But, Miller being Miller, always lacked in developing a female character who would return home winning the battle against the evils on her own—without being rescued by a male character in the end.
For instance, Sin City is a perfect example to show how he created female characters that lacked character development and motives.
In the movie, the character Nancy Callahan was portrayed by a capable and confident female, yet her primary profession in the movie is that of a stripper at Kadie’s Bar.
The point here is not that a stripper cannot act as a prime protagonist (of course, she can), but the issue in her character development was she constantly required the help of the major male protagonist to get rescued from difficult situations.
The case got even worse with Miho—another female character from the same story—who works as a secret assassin. However, that work is not because of a motive of her own. She does it only to repay the debt she had owed to Dwight McCarthy (male character).
The list could be expanded easily, but these two characters are enough to prove that Miller didn’t think harder to generate a female narrative in the past.
Many of his female characters were either half-naked or gracefully killing other characters in fetishistic ways. They were in the stories only to assist or complete the plot of the male characters.
But now it seems like Miller has learned to serve the audiences of the progressive 21st century that empower feminism, trend movements such as #metoo, and the likes of Malala Yousafzai’s advocacy for women’s rights.
With Cursed, Miller has gone out of his league and introduced his audiences with a courageous female protagonist (Nimue) who is determined to protect her people from the man army of the Red Paladins, the Christian monk group.
And what seemed like an impossible task to come out from Miller, he has hit the nail in the coffin this time with Nimue.
That’s why he should be praised for bringing such an inspirational and legendary character to life. He should be encouraged to bring more characters like Nimue, who can highlight the diversity of our society.
Let's hope that the change for Miller that came along with Cursed stays constant, and we as viewers get to watch/read about more strong female characters through the comic legend’s work.