By Ravynn Stringfield
When Superman flew into American popular culture, where he would safely reside as one of the most iconic figures for decades, he did not arrive alone. Despite having crash landed in a field in Kansas in a ship built for one, Superman’s story is never complete without an appearance from Lex Luthor, Jimmy Olsen, and of course, the one and only Lois Lane.
I never paid much attention to superheroes growing up. I always liked them, I watched the shows when they were on, but I never followed them religiously like I do now. I was a die hard Disney girl (which, I still am, by the way) and I spent ages trying to decide which Disney princess I was most like. All of my friends easily self-identified with bookish Belle or adventurous Ariel, but I never could decide. Nothing was ever quite right for me. Belle was too quiet, Ariel was too obsessed with a boy, and I liked Pocahontas okay, but she was too…even-tempered.
When Tiana was released, I remembered the excitement as I sat in the theater, prepared to feel like I was looking at my life story as I watched hers and then…
Tiana was great. Tiana is great. She’s hard working, she can sing, she’s a daddy’s girl, which is one of my claims to fame. But her name did not spring my lips when asked who was my favorite Disney princess, like I hoped it would.
It wasn’t until I began watching Smallville, a show that ran on the WB network from 2000 until 2010, that I realized I did not have a favorite Disney Princess.
I had a favorite superhero girlfriend.
One Lois Lane.
I have started to think that “the Superhero Girlfriend” is just as valuable a type of woman to be analyzing as the “Disney Princess.” What is interesting about the Superhero Girlfriend (TSG) is that she does not have to be as universal as Disney princesses are. Disney princesses have to be somewhat watered down in personality because they have to be palatable (read: marketable) to mass audiences. They have to have a dominant personality trait that makes them distinctive from other princesses (Belle’s bookishness, Ariel’s curiosity, Tiana’s work ethic) but similar enough that fans of Disney feel safe in knowing exactly how the story will end (with the exception of Brave). Given that readers of comics and viewers of comic based films and television shows are a very niche audience, writers on comics and graphic novels have a lot more freedom to pursue more fleshed out female characters. Don’t get me wrong, I still think graphic novel writers can always do better about writing their female characters, but I love how strong the women usually are.
The best thing about a Superhero Girlfriend is that these are women who are strong on their own. We have to remember that comic writers, specifically Superman writers, are writing a woman that would attract the strongest, most invulnerable man on the planet. TSG has to be of equivalent moral fiber as her hero counterpart and equally emotionally and mentally strong as her counterpart to even be able to compete. Heroes have to have girlfriends that can take the danger, who are not afraid to be in the line of fire, but who will also stand up for him and for herself. The fact is, part of the reason Superman loves Lois, is because he knows that if she gets into trouble, she can hold her own until he gets there. Heck, a lot of the time, she’s already wormed her way out of a hole and is standing there tapping her foot impatiently by the time her caped crusader deigns to show up.
TSG is, in her own right, a force of nature. She is often a hero in her own way.
Lois Lane runs the Daily Planet, in modern renditions. She knows Perry’s the editor, but Lois puts that paper on her shoulders and she carries it. Clark Kent is a gifted reporter, too, but he’s often at least a few steps behind Lois, who will do anything for a story. While Lois is definitely about the byline above the fold, she does it because that is her personal way of ensuring that the truth will out, and that justice can be served. She does not have bulletproof skin, heat vision or super hearing, but with her pen and pad, she, too, can save the day. In the new 52 run, Lois is promoted to an executive producer, and Clark spends his time working in small time journalism, trying to run an internet self-starter with Cat Grant.
Lois Lane is a Pulitzer prize winning journalist.
Say it with me: Lois Lane is a Pulitzer prize winning journalist.
So, not only is Lois an extremely gifted writer, a real life journalistic Hall of Fame-r, she commands the respect of all of her co-workers and that’s without even getting into her personality.
I stand by my opinion that the writers of Smallville did the best characterization of Superman and Lois Lane that I have ever seen/read. When you watch the show, it makes perfect sense how a guy like Clark Kent ends up with the holy terror that is Lois Lane in Smallville. The thing that I love about Lois in Smallville is that she’s not “The Lois Lane” yet. The name Lois definitely garners some reactions after she’s been around a while (cue Clark’s infamous, exasperated, “Lois.”) but it’s not because she’s a journalistic genius. In fact, when she arrives in Smallville by a twisted turn of events, she’s not even remotely interested in journalism. She’s the fast talking, quick-witted, cigarette smoking, vodka chugging, sailor mouthed daughter of one of the most highly regarded generals of the U.S. military. Lois is beautiful, but not solely because of her looks. Lois is a highly self-confident individual, she knows her flaws, she owns them, she flaunts them. She knows exactly how she comes off to others and refuses to compromise on who she has chosen to be. If Lois ever settles down over the course of the show, it’s because she wants to, not for anyone else. (Case in point: even after she starts dating Clark, there’s a point where Clark literally has to stop her fist in midair because she’s winding up to punch Cat Grant in the face at the Daily Planet.)
Lois Lane in Smallville can fight. And not just with words; she didn’t lounge around on the military bases her daddy dragged her to. She can wield a gun and is skilled enough in hand to hand combat to hold her own against a Kryptonian warrior at the beginning of Season 9. She’s hot tempered enough that she spends quite a bit of time fighting with different characters on the show (*cough Tess Mercer*) and strangely enough never actually gets into it with Lana. She’s not afraid to be physical, even in her every day life. She shows her affection for Clark by punching him in the arm for most of their relationship.
Despite the ease with which she goes up in arms, it’s always someone or a principle that she believes in that she is fighting for. Loyalty is a part of Lois’ character that stays in tact no matter when she’s being written or who is writing her. She stays fiercely loyal to Clark, despite the two of them never being officially married in many story lines. She’s loyal to exacting justice, which is why she can stay faithful to Clark as well as to her one true love, journalism. Her ability to express this loyalty does not stop there; she’s also an extraordinarily compassionate and emotional person. Many might take Lois’ hard exterior and sarcasm to mean she is a cold person. In fact, if she didn’t have the shell that she does, her emotions would always get the better of her. Being quick to anger is often a result of being passionate about something and Lois loves hard.
All of this can be said for the leading lady of Superman myth, without even delving into their relationship itself. And while I could get into how their relationship gives Lois even more points, the title of this article is “Why the World Needs Lois Lane.” Contrary to popular belief, Lois is her own person outside of Clark. The fact is, Lois would have been pulling Pulitzers with or without Clark by her side.
That is why the world needs Lois Lane.
For all the girls who are smart mouthed, intelligent, resourceful, abrasive, we need heroes who are equally as “feisty” as we are.
Someone once called me feisty; the same someone also called me intimidating.
I hated it because it made me feel like I wasn’t approachable, or relatable.
Lois Lane proves that girls should not be afraid to be either of those things, because the right person will not be intimidated by your success, by your personality, by your work ethic, or by your passion. You are not defined by who loves or does not love you.
Feisty girls get the Superman.
Feisty girls run the world.