Thursday, July 11, 2013

Why I Want to Be Lois Lane When I Grow Up

"Man of Steel" Lois Lane, hard-hitting investigative report
who is not fooled by a pair of glasses.

When I was little, I wanted to be many things. I wanted to be Belle, I wanted to be Snow White, I wanted to be the Yellow Ranger in Power Rangers, I wanted to be Hermione and, I wanted to be Lois Lane.

She's the female comic book character I looked forward to seeing at the theaters when the superhero films started making a come-back in the early 2000s. Superman was an inevitability and the only thing that made me bite my nails was seeing who would play her. And Amy Adams was my perfect Lois Lane.

I am a big geek, which means I grew up watching the DC Comics cartoon versions of "X-Men," "Spider-Man," "Batman," "Batman Beyond" (which I believe is next to "Gargoyles" and "Animaniacs" as the best cartoon show ever written) and "Superman." And out of all the superhero girlfriends, I wanted to be Lois Lane.

The main reasons were two-fold: she was a writer, I wanted to be a writer, and she was female. Considering the utter lack of female heroines who were not princesses, I took what I could get. Side note: I never wanted to be Mulan, because even at that age, I could see that me being a Chinese warrior was a little too on the nose.

And also, she was smart. Even though she was just a normal woman with no powers and no proclivity towards gymnastics, and tended to needed rescuing quite a bit because all the villains knew Superman had a thing for her, she still managed to hold her own.

"Superman: The Animated Series" Lois with lavender eyes
was obviously inspired by Elizabeth Taylor, another tough broad.
 I remember the Bizarro episode of "Superman: The Animated Series" when Lois first encounters Bizarro. And instead of freaking out, acting scared and letting her guard down...she takes him to lunch.

It must have been her journalistic training, where taking a subject to lunch is practically the rule when writing profiles.

There's a tendency in these newer superhero films to upgrade the female character's occupation, a move I think to appeal to the feminist crowd, and give the characters a more stereotypically "manly" job. Jane in "Thor" is no longer a nurse, she's an astrophysicist. Carol Ferris is not just the vice president of Ferris Aircrafts in the (really dull) "Green Lantern" film, but a test pilot as well. Secretary Pepper Potts gets promoted to CEO of Stark Industries in "Iron Man 2" and has a pivotal role in the green energy movement in "Avengers."

So instead of making women the star and heroines of their own action movies, they got a job promotion in their supporting roles. But that's another blog post, and it's a problem that's tied hand-in-hand with the lack of female superhero comics.

But Lois Lane and Selena Kyle, in "Man of Steel" and "Dark Knight Rises" respectively, have survived the transition to 21st century film. Lois is still a journalist and Selene Kyle is a vixen of a cat burglar. And while in both "Superman Returns," the "Smallville" TV show and "Man of Steel," has Lois being a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, the character and occupation is still the same. Lois has always been a strong-willed, confident, opinionated and nosy to the point of getting herself into trouble.

In the newest "Man of Steel" version, Lois gets another upgrade in that she also investigates her way into Superman's secret identity, so we know she can't be fooled by a little disguise known as glasses. It's a change, which began in "Smallville" where Lois also discovered Clark's secret past time on her own, that I'm grateful for.

"Smallville" Lois, who went undercover as a stripper
in one episode. A journalist life is so hard.

It shows that she's not distracted by a well-coiffed head of hair and tight blue spandex and potential husband material. She's also observant enough to know a flimsy disguise when she sees it.

But suspension of glasses disbelief aside, what I appreciated about Lois Lane the character was how consistent of a presence she has been throughout the Superman mythology, as constant as Kryptonite or the ghost/hologram of Jor-El. Catwoman would come in and out of Batman episodes and films (heck, she's only appeared in two out of the eight Batman films that have been made since 1989). And I don't count anything pre-me-being-born because this essay is about me and Lois Lane.

In contrast, in the two Superman movies made since I was born, and the two TV shows about Superman ("Lois and Clark" and "Smallville"), Lois was always as pivotal as a character as Superman, so much so that "Lois and Clark" gave her first billing.

You could even say that without Lois, there would be less dimensions to the Superman mythology, and that it would just be about Superman fighting aliens and Lex Luthor. Superman needed her too, to keep help him retain his human side and to give the audience an Earth perspective on the supernatural villains. Notice I don't say female.

She was a character that someone like my pre-teen self could look up to, someone who was as important as the man with superpowers, except her power was in her brain and her words. And dedicated to her career, while also having time to flirt with a superhero after he saves her life for the 100th time.

I wanted to be Lois Lane when I was younger and I want to be her now.

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