Saturday, February 25, 2012

Young Female Empowerment in Spy Kids

One topic of particular discussion during class was how women characters tend to be infantilized in comics. In particular, Kitty Pryde entered the X-men as a young teenager, and continued to be seen as younger than the other male parts of that group. Although her power was strong, she still was portrayed as less powerful, which may have been a product of her gender. With her always receiving commands from other characters, it made it seem as if her character was infantile—the character that always needed to be watched over like a child.

Although this seems like a stereotype that would exist in many places, I remember really enjoying the movie Spy Kids when I was in elementary school. This movie defied the stereotype that women should be portrayed as younger than male characters by constantly being the character to take commands from the male leader. Although these stereotypes were quite prevalent in the Kitty Pryde comics we read, the main characters of Spy Kids countered these quite strongly. In this movie, two young children, Carmen and Juni, discover that their parents are spies. When one day they find that their parents are in danger, they must go on a mission to find and save their parents, fighting robots and other fanatical characters along the way.

The mission that these two children go on resembles a superhero comic in the fact that they are fighting beings with super human like powers while using gadgets that give them the abilities to do things that are not possible in the actual world. However, unlike many super heroine comics that portray women as infantilized, this movie gives power to children, and unexpectedly even more power to the female child. The parents need saving, so the children must step up to fight and rescue their parents.

In the movie, Carmen is the older, stronger, wiser one of the other two kids. Her younger brother is always scared and anxious. Therefore, she always acts as the leader of the two. In addition to countering the stereotype that children cannot be as powerful as adults, by giving Carmen the leadership position over her brother, it also counters the idea that women are portrayed as infantile.  These two children, led by the female sibling successfully beat many adult characters in order to save their parents—giving power to children and even more power to female children. Contrasting Kitty Pryde, who is a female portrayed as infantile in comparison to the other X-Men, Carmen in Spy Kids has command over her brother and also has the strength and power to defeat many enemies of all ages, giving maturity to her child-aged character.



  1. I agree that in elementary school, Spy Kids was a huge movie when it came out. I find that in both this movie and X-Men (in relations to Kitty Pryde), that these mediums give kids something to look up to. It's good that both the writers and the producers of the movie allowed the typical heroic character to be placed into the body of a young girl, showing that they too can be strong and a hero.

  2. I actually never liked this movie (I know, I was probably the only kid in my entire elementary school who thought that way). I can't stand the way Carmen manipulates her little brother into doing things. I have a younger brother whom in many cases I have to be a "second mom" to; I don't use controlling and manipulative techniques though. Carmen degrades her brother and insults is this an example of female superheroism? I think, if anything, HE looks like the superhero in the end because he proves to have a genuine heart(what makes a true hero).


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