A Rip-Roaring Feminist Hoedown
That’s how I’d describe “The Furies,” one of the films that Prof. Jeanine Bassinger says Joss Whedon programmed for the student cinema at Wesleyan. Because all the drama comes from a strong woman character trying to navigate her way through the patriarchy.
Its strength as a feminist Western — and the reason it might not be recognized as feminist — is that it does not idealize its protagonist, played by Barbara Stanwyck. It only turns from a good movie into a great one about halfway through, when she does something strikingly unheroic. (Which I won’t spoil for you here.) I wonder if this movie convinced the Demon Writer of TV that moral complexity makes good art, or if it just struck him as exemplary (as in “example-y”) of that principle, or if I’m just, per usual, imagining stuff.
I don’t know why it becomes a great movie, since moral complexity lends itself equally well to boredom. One symptom of its greatness: Some of its best dialogue is not in English, and I didn’t understand a word of it, but it moved me greatly.
IMHO, moral complexity is lacking in the Captain Hammer comic. We don’t feel Captain Hammer’s pain. He’s just a jerk. This isn’t really a correction of the simplistic good v. evil polarization in comic books, just an inversion of it. The good guy is a bad guy. A cardboard hero may be a variation on the cardboard villain, but he’s still cardboard.
You feel the pain of Joss Whedon’s best villains — The Mayor, Spike and Dru, Angelus (ambiguously, I admit), Glory and, above all, Faith. That’s part of their greatness.