Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Ultimate Kick-butt Heroine

Over the Christmas weekend, we went to see AVATAR with our family back in Missouri. It was captivating. Avatar had everything~a sympathetic hero, a huge conflict, a special world with magic dripping from every fern, a fascinating indigenous culture with a well-developed spirituality, and most importantly for me, a love story at its heart.

Neytiri, the beautiful Na'vi heroine, is a total alpha female. We first meet her stalking and planning to kill the invading hero. Fortunately, she has a change of heart. Then in some spectacular action, she saves him from a pack of creatures (a cross between wolves and saber-tooth tigers) and manages to beat them off while wearing hardly a stitch on her lovely blue body. Her snarl alone is enough to send some of them scurrying.

Needless to say, the hero is more than intrigued.

I've never written what I would call an alpha female (probably because I myself am a sniveling beta) but I'm tempted to try it now. Neytiri is undoubtedly fierce, but she is also uniquely feminine. The trick to making her work, I think, is making sure the hero is an uber-alpha. He has to be in order to be worthy of her.

Have you seen AVATAR? What did you think?


Lynz Pickles said...

I haven't seen AVATAR, but I have read my fair share of books featuring alpha females, and honestly? I practically tear my hair out every time one of them chooses an uber-alpha male. There are a few exceptions, of course, but for the most part, it drives me nuts! I feel like there's this rule in romance that says heroes have to be more alpha than their heroines, and I get so sick of it. There are so many novels in which an alpha male chooses a beta heroine, yet I've yet to find a single one in which the reverse is true.

I don't think worth comes from how alpha a hero is. I think worth comes from showing that the hero's a good person and that he and the heroine have a relationship that works for them, regardless of what usually happens in romances. That's why I'm able to buy stories in which the alpha male chooses a beta female--I can see that they have something they're comfortable with, and that their differences unite them.

I'd love to see a novel with an alpha female who chose a less-alpha male. He wouldn't even have to be beta; I'd just love for her to choose someone other than the male who out-alphas her and is therefore her match. I'd be all over that story.

EmilyBryan said...

Interesting thought, Lynz.

In some ways, Ney'tiri is stuck with a less than alpha male character at first since she has to teach Jake Sully how to survive in the forest. It's only later that he emerges as an uber-alpha, succeeding at something that has only happened 5 times in the Na'vi's collective memory. She helped turn him into that uber-alpha.

SPOILER ALERT: Stop reading if you haven't seen the movie and want to be surprised.

There is one point in the story where she sees and still loves Jake in his much weaker human form. But it's not his body that makes him an uber-alpha. It's his spirit.

I wouldn't have been happy for Ney'tiri if she'd settled for less.

Heather D said...

I saw Avatar last week. My daughter and I really wanted to see New Moon but we had the husband and son with us and there was no getting the 7 yr old to sit through that movie. So we had to find one that was starting within 20 mins it became a toss up between Avatar and The Chipmunks. Avatar won out.
As my daughter puts it "Avatar was much better than I had anticipated" I actually loved the movie! and Emily you are completely right Ney'tiri couldn't have settled for a Beta male,it would not have worked. Being the strong female she needed an even stronger male. This is an absolute must buy on DVD for us.

EmilyBryan said...

Heather--We saw New Moon too, and frankly, I was underwhelmed. Mostly because it's a love triangle story and Bella comes off as needy and manipulative. Not attractive in a heroine. It's very hard to make a triangle work and have all 3 points be strong, sympathetic characters.

Heather D said...

I read the entire Twilight series and loved them! I can't say the same for the first movie--Twilight. It was a really big disappointment for me. I was so hoping that New Moon would be better, and have been in no hurry to get to the theater to watch it. I will most likely end up waiting for it to come out on DVD.

librarypat said...

Haven't yet seen Avatar. Was surprised when my husband said he wanted to go. We really don't go to the movies much. Since the Lord Of The Ring Trilogy, I've seen only "kid's" movies. We have Book To Movie parties at the library - Harry Potter, Twilight, and soon The Lightening Thief.
If you think of what life was like hundreds, even thousands of years ago, there had to be a lot of alpha females out there. Life was hard and you had to be tough to survive. Women were partners and needed to be as strong as their mates. Often they had to become alpha to survive if their mate wasn't strong enough for them to survive. If a beta female can admire and support an alpha male, I see no reason an beta male can't do the same with an alpha female.