A History Of Traumatic Sexual Assault Seems To Be A Requirement
Warner Bros. Pictures
Tragic backstories are great character development because they show that the hero suffered in the past ("Suffer? Hey, that's what I do every day!"), but was then able to get over it and become a better, stronger person. And they're really varied, too. Batman witnessed his parents' murder, Harry Potter was mistreated by most of his family, Captain Kirk is a Space-Holocaust survivor, etc.
But when it comes to women, it seems they only get one type of tragic backstory: rape.
Look at, let's say, Lisbeth Salander, the eponymous lead of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. She is a capable, strong, ass-annihilating genius with legendary hacking skills ... and also a rape survivor. Now, she was a genius before her assault, but throughout the movie (both the American and Swedish versions), it feels like her rape was the final push she needed to become an avenging angel with a keyboard. And that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing if that wasn't also the case for seemingly half the female action heroes on the market. It's as if when writers try to make a tragic backstory distinctly female, only one thing comes to mind.
There's also an 80 percent chance that she'll be wearing a hoodie while brooding in this pose at some point.
Even in Mad Max: Fury Road, the most kickass, female-friendly action movie out there, every female character under the age of 60 was raped by Immortan Joe, and that possibly includes Furiosa. Olivia Benson from Law & Order: SVU was the child of rape, and this became her main motivation to prosecute sex offenders. The Bride from Kill Bill was raped while she was in a coma, after being shot by a jealous male lover. Gretchen, the psycho operative from Prison Break? Raped. Black Widow? Well, she was made sterile by the Soviets against her will, so her tragic backstory is still connected to males doing non-consensual things to her genitalia.