Today’s Danger Gal profile is Barbara Gordon a.k.a Batgirl, most notably played by Yvonne Craig (pictured) in the 1960s TV series Batman.
While today’s profile concentrates on Gordon, there have been several other iterations of this character to wear the bat-cape, namely Bette Kane as the original “Bat-girl” who debuted in DC Comics in 1961, as well as Cassandra Cain and Helena Bertinelli, both of which are much darker characters than Gordon. According to Wikipedia:
The Barbara Gordon version of Batgirl has been adapted into all media relating to the Batman franchise, including merchandise, television, animation, and feature film. During the early 1970s, the character was also used as an advocate for women’s rights.
Not bad for a character originally concocted as a love interest for Batman’s sidekick Robin. More than just a strong super-heroine, Barbara Gordon has become an icon for people with disabilities. After an accident damaged her spinal cord, Gordon morphed into The Oracle, an information broker providing intelligence and computer hacking services to other superheroes.
The Birds of Prey comic book series also portrays her as the leader of a team of mostly female crime-fighters. The series depicts her as a great intellect uninhibited by her paralysis, skilled in the martial art of eskrima.
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This week’s Danger Gal is Stargate Atlantis’ Teyla Emmagan, played by actress Rachel Luttrell.
Emmagan was the leader of a village on the planet Athos and is considered to be the leader of all of the Athosians residing in Atlantis, as well as a member of Lt. Col. John Sheppard’s off-world Stargate team. She has the ability to sense nearby Wraith due to some long-ago Wraith heritage, and to quote Wikipedia, she is:
. . . skilled in military strategy, martial arts, and Pegasus-galaxy diplomacy; she practices a form of stick-fighting (based on Eskrima) with John Sheppard and has taken up use of Earth weapons (such as a P-90) with great facility. She is in incredible physical shape and frequently practices martial arts against two or three opponents at once, easily beating them all.
Emmagan’s character both subverts and supports stereotypical roles of women and minorities in science fiction. Her role challenges stereotypes by the fact that she’s a woman and a greatly revered leader, the SG teams regard her as an equal and a friend, she kicks John Sheppard’s act on a regular basis as she teaches him her martial art. And yet, while in early episodes we saw her attired in a long coat and practical clothing, many other episodes have costumed Luttrell in a belly-baring top as well as a split seamed skirt in situations where this attire is impractical and sometimes dangerous. More recent episodes have shown the character dressed in an Earth uniform and I hope this trend continues.
Also of note of the Emmagan character, and Ronon Dex as well, is the stereotypical portrayal of minority actors in “noble savage” roles by using their ethnicity to build on the “otherness” of their alien characters. While fundamental characters to the series, it would have been refreshing to see a minority actor rather in one of the SG team roles, as was the case with the recent character of Colonel Abe Ellis in the episode “First Strike.” Overall, I’m looking forward to how the writers continue to develop Emmagan’s character.
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