Gamora: A Hardbody Action Heroine

While comics and their film adaptations still focus heavily around the male heroes, Marvel separates itself from DC comics by creating unique female heroes who exhibit agency within the story. DC, on the other hand, tends to just create female equivalents to preexisting male heroes (Superwoman, Batgirl). The most recent of Marvel’s female action heroes to hit the big screen is Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy.

Gamora is a fairly simple character to understand since the writer’s of Guardians of the Galaxy seem to play off every trope explored by Jeffrey A. Brown in his book, Dangerous Curves: Action Heroines, Gender, Fetishism, and Popular Culture.

The first of these tropes often associated with the action heroine is that she is “often filmed to accentuate her body, but this new hardbody is not offered up as a mere sexual commodity” (25). Instead, her body is coded as “both object and subject,” or, in other words, “her body does not exist to solely to please men, it is a body designed to be functional” (25). The image above shows how creators are drawing attention to Gamora’s body using the tight leather outfit, but the leather also implies a sort of utility. The audience becomes aware fairly early in the film that Gamora is not just some eye-candy to accompany this group of male heroes, but her body was actually designed to be a lethal weapon; thus making Gamora the most dangerous out of the five. Also, she is considered to be one of the most covered up compared to her companions (looking at you Drax and Groot).

Not only is Gamora’s body a lethal weapon, even her fitting style stays within the guidelines of Brown’s analysis. Brown explains how the action heroine’s strength “is represented through the heroine’s superior ability in martial arts” (31-32). Starlord and Rocket rely on their guns, Drax and Groot rely on their brute strength, but Gamora is the only one who seems to have any martial arts training. While this initially seems to be a limitation to not allow Gamora to wield any sort of firearms, the audience becomes aware within the first few fighting scenes that Gamora does not need firearms or brute strength. The audience witnesses as the rest of the characters become bogged down by their weapons or lack of fighting skills, but Gamora never seems to fail with her martial arts fighting style.

Even though Gamora mostly exemplifies the female hard-bodied action heroine, she also incorporates some elements of the femme fatale. One popular example from the film where Gamora takes on the role of the femme fatale is the scene when she first encounters Starlord. Gamora casually leans up against the side of the building, eating some type of fruit, and starts to engage Starlord in conversation. Gamora expects Starlord to underestimate her, so she takes on this role to gain further advantage. After all, just a few moments after assessing her as no real threat, Starlord is then mercilessly attacked.

Despite being a stereotype of the hardbody action heroine, Gamora is still a rather enjoyable character since she exhibits one trait that is often lost to female heroes: a sense of agency. All too often, the male heroes are the ones to drive the plot forward while the female heroes just accompany them. Gamora, on the other hand, seems to be one making a lot of the decisions for the rest of the heroes. In fact, she is the one who not only convinces the others that they need to take the stone back from Ronan, but who also has a dramatic fight scene that determines the outcome of their entire plan. In short, Gamora is both a stereotype and innovative.

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