Blizzard's Long History of Manic Pixie Nightmare Girls and Fear of Women

VPplaya

Member
Nov 20, 2018
504
This article seems to be stretching things a bit in my opinion. Regarding Jaina, I fail to see how she fits into the trope that the author is trying to make. Her character arc has been one of the most fleshed out stories in WoW for quite some time. While people can complain and criticize her actions in Legion, I also fully believe people would have complained had Blizz rugsweeped her character if she just forgave and allowed the two factions to work together to fight the demons.

As a Horde player, Sylvanas is a totally different story. But I would not lump her and Jaina together.
 

Zed

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,306
Wasn't that her own racist-ass asshole father's fault, though?
Her father died before World of Warcraft. Theramore was destroyed by Garrosh's mana nuke well after her father died.

I also agree with the other posters that Jaina's story is probably one of the few good examples of Blizzard fleshing out a character over a long period of time. Jaina started out as someone who always gave people the benefit of the doubt in hopes of peace, but over time as the Horde constantly back stabbed and/or attacked the Alliance she became more jaded until there was a miscommunication between a joint Alliance/Horde assault against the Burning Legion which made it appear like the Horde on purposely left the Alliance to die.

Compare that to someone like Illidan who was an anti-hero in WC3 but suddently became a Saturday morning cartoon villain in the Burning Crusade (his actions in BC has since been retconned)
 

marimo

Member
Oct 25, 2017
508
So, the fact that this type of backstory is seemingly only applied to female villains is kinda problematic.

But... idk, is the trope itself problematic? I think the idea that a villain started out with good intentions, but other people turned them into monsters, is a much more interesting backstory for anyone of any gender, and—for the most part—also more realistic.
The problematic part for me is that, for this type of female villain, their transformation often happens against their will and involves some kind of bodily violation. There are fallen male characters but usually they have more agency, choosing to corrupt themselves as a tradeoff for more power. One is a noble sacrifice while the other is a trauma.

disclaimer: I'm not a Blizzard lore expert but I've played a good number of their games
 

Aexact

Member
Oct 30, 2017
1,636
I’m having trouble nailing down what the trope is supposed to be. The article does a lot to retell the stories of the three chosen examples, Kerrigan, Sylvanas and Widowmaker, but I’m skeptical that the instances cited add up to form a new type of trope. It feels very stream of conscious, like when it states that there are silly reasons why they’re all hot which feels like a much wider issue than the one they’re trying to argue. Is the thesis that they all suffered and became evil and the problem is the loss of agency because becoming evil was an inevitable outcome of suffering for this female trope?
 

Zed

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,306
The problematic part for me is that, for this type of female villain, their transformation often happens against their will and involves some kind of bodily violation. There are fallen male characters but usually they have more agency, choosing to corrupt themselves as a tradeoff for more power. One is a noble sacrifice while the other is a trauma.
Blizzard has transformed important male characters with unwilling mutilation and torture. Bolvar Fordragon comes to mind.

First he is gets poisoned and then is permanently lit on fire against his will:


Then he is later tortured by the Arthas (the same person who tortured Sylvanas ): (The cutscene is kind of awkward since it is a vision that happens during a boss fight)


Bolvar never becomes a villain but he does unwilling loses his "humanity" and that is why is he is able to become the Jailer of the Damned.
 
Oct 25, 2017
14,607
Austria
Is this actually a problem tho?
Obviously Blizzard likes this trope but the characters themselves are rather iconic for people who play those games, so is this really a problem?
They are only badly written in the way most Blizzard characters are badly written.
 

Dark Ninja

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,883
When's Mei gonna get tortured. I wish they would have killed her off in that Overwatch 2 cinematic. Cmon Blizzard writers give me a canon reason to hate her.
 
Nov 9, 2017
348
Réunion
Blizzard reuses a lot of character and plot tropes in their games.
I think so too. One day I was telling one of my friend that the "good guys", or the more apt at evolving, in Blizzard games are always the group that come from the patchwork group, like the Horde for example in Warcraft or just the humans in Diablo. And that it was reminiscing of the US history, a bunch of people coming from different horizons, becoming the less "bad" group, existing by opposition of the older and stricter groups. There's always an old community, like the Alliance, the Protoss or the Angels, which feels like Europe.
 
Last edited:

Acidote

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,973
This is just Blizzard reusing stuff over and over again. Because that backstory has been used with a few more characters that are not female.

Please someone count how many time did a character "went crazy/corrupted/tortured until gone crazy" to justify them becoming villains, instead of developing a different, more worked, story around it.
 

Weltall Zero

Member
Oct 26, 2017
11,668
Madrid
"Kerrigan was taken from her family"

She was a murderous assassin already. And she did not get tortured. 🤷
I'd say being incapacitated by zerglings, then shoved inside a coccoon and forcefully mutated / brainwashed into a human / zerg hybrid counts as torture...


Blizzard has transformed important male characters with unwilling mutilation and torture. Bolvar Fordragon comes to mind.

First he is gets poisoned and then is permanently lit on fire against his will:


Then he is later tortured by the Arthas (the same person who tortured Sylvanas ): (The cutscene is kind of awkward since it is a vision that happens during a boss fight)


Bolvar never becomes a villain but he does unwilling loses his "humanity" and that is why is he is able to become the Jailer of the Damned.
That kind of reinforces some of the points of the article, though. Men are capable of enduring torture and dehumanization and remain heroes, women break and become villains. As mentioned, Arthas is probably the better counterexample, being closer in his trajectory to the female examples.


Is this actually a problem tho?
Obviously Blizzard likes this trope but the characters themselves are rather iconic for people who play those games, so is this really a problem?
I'm a bit confused. Is your argument "beloved characters can't be problematic", or am I missing something obvious...?
 

Primal Sage

Member
Nov 27, 2017
844
While Widdowmaker fits the description by the author, Sombra and Ashe do not. There are even long range fighters like Pharra and the old Sniper lady who don’t turn evil.

The article is thin.
 

Mentalist

Member
Mar 14, 2019
2,752
Andariel, the Act 1 boss of Diablo 2 literally reuses Kerrigan's model-including the super-Sayan hair and the spiky tentacles from the back.

Arthas' arc is identical to Kerrigan's. And Sylvanas' arc in Frozen throne mirrors Arthas'

Blizzard recycles tropes and ideas across IPs; news at 11.

if you look at the pre-WOW lore, Illidan is the only "misguided villain" of the bunch- his "crime" was to preserve a sample of the original Well of Magic and create a new Well of Eternity after Azhara's Kingdom was destroyed following the 1st legion invasion.

Edit: let's not forget, the Terran Confederacy assassinated Arcturus' father and his entire life family, and then nuked Korhal, turning it into a desert.
 
Last edited:

Maledict

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,671
This is true of a lot of the female characters, but this is something that feels like it also applies to characters like Arthas & Illidan to an extent.
You’re missing one of the fundamental points of the article.

Female villains are created by a traumatic event happening *to* them - they have no agency. Violence and torture is inflicted on them, resulting in them becoming twisted and evil (and purple!).

Both Illidan and Arthas chose their fates. Violence was not done to them - they did it to theirselves.

(there’s multiple layers to that. Only men have agency - women are the result of things done to them. Women start off as intrinsically pure and good ((light skinned!)) and then become purple and evil when violated)etc etc
 

Sera

Member
Oct 27, 2017
505
Melbourne
OK, so... what is it?
woman are sick of seeing female characters "having to be broken" to be a villain (and that villainess character also fulfills sexy fanservice)
Its boring, repetitive & tiresome
why can't she just be a static asshole? why the tragic backstory, every time? Why does she need to be "broken" to be sympathetic (pity)? Does she need to be sympathetic (pity) to be compelling as a villain?


Blizzard is definitely getting better a long these lines, mainly with Symmetra
but on release Widow Maker was super yikes
You’re missing one of the fundamental points of the article.

Female villains are created by a traumatic event happening *to* them - they have no agency. Violence and torture is inflicted on them, resulting in them becoming twisted and evil (and purple!).

Both Illidan and Arthas chose their fates. Violence was not done to them - they did it to theirselves.

(there’s multiple layers to that. Only men have agency - women are the result of things done to them. Women start off as intrinsically pure and good ((light skinned!)) and then become purple and evil when violated)etc etc
This stuff too
 
Last edited:

Weltall Zero

Member
Oct 26, 2017
11,668
Madrid
woman are sick of seeing female characters "having to be broken" to be a villain (and that villainess character also fulfills sexy fanservice)
Its boring, repetitive & tiresome
why can't she just be a static asshole? why the tragic backstory, every time? Why does she need to be "broken" to be sympathetic? Does she need to be sympathetic to be compelling as a villain?

Blizzard is definitely getting better a long these lines, mainly with Symmetra
but on release Widow Maker was super yikes
Follow the chain of replies, I'm asking Fantastapotamus what his argument is (because it seems to be "these characters are popular, so it's OK"). The article itself is plenty clear and I pretty much agree with it.
 

Gold Arsene

Member
Oct 27, 2017
23,786
It doesn't necessarily bug me but I always found it kinda odd that until Moira Overwatche's only "white" villain is the one not turned evil of her own will.(I haven't kept u with Overwatch lore so forgive me if I missed a retcon.)
 

Moirayn

Member
Nov 7, 2018
1,133
You’re missing one of the fundamental points of the article.

Female villains are created by a traumatic event happening *to* them - they have no agency. Violence and torture is inflicted on them, resulting in them becoming twisted and evil (and purple!).

Both Illidan and Arthas chose their fates. Violence was not done to them - they did it to theirselves.

(there’s multiple layers to that. Only men have agency - women are the result of things done to them. Women start off as intrinsically pure and good ((light skinned!)) and then become purple and evil when violated)etc etc
Totally fair point. Whereas Arthas & Illidan are corrupted/influenced by Frostmourne & Xavius respectively (and Arthas ultimately loses his agency) they had both kind of started down that path already to an extent. Whereas the women definitely had the traumatic experience that *transforms them* into something evil.
 

Finaj

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,600
A big problem with Blizzard villains (especially when it comes to Warcraft) is a lot of villains are "corrupted" and have very little agency to be doing what they're doing.

Strangely enough, Sylvanas seems to have her own agency (in that no one appears to be controlling/ordering her) but we know very little of why she has made the decisions she has (besides bad writing).
 

echoshifting

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
2,975
The Negative Zone
A big problem with Blizzard villains (especially when it comes to Warcraft) is a lot of villains are "corrupted" and have very little agency to be doing what they're doing.

Strangely enough, Sylvanas seems to have her own agency (in that no one appears to be controlling/ordering her) but we know very little of why she has made the decisions she has (besides bad writing).
You can probably trace Blizzard's fascination with corruption back to Games Workshop and Warhammer, which they've always liberally drawn inspiration from. Corruption is a big deal in those settings.

That said. The problem here, as others are pointing out, is really the lack of agency involved when female characters are corrupted, not the corruption itself. Like Sylvanas had no agency when she was first turned into a banshee.