Thus far fans of Marvel’s Netflix shows, culminating in next month’s The Defenders, have heard precious little about Sigourney Weaver‘s character, billed as the big bad of the team up spectacular. While a lot of guessing has happened, that guessing is largely based on a very little actual information. Netflix and Marvel TV are clearly seeing her identity as a big reveal and keeping it cryptic has been a way to build anticipation for the show. Finally, we get information and it is clear that Weaver wants to nuance her take on the character.
I’m not a villain, I’m an adversary…With my work in general, I try to avoid terms like ‘ice queen’ that are often thrown at women who aren’t completely sympathetic. I encouraged [the writers] to not think in those terms, because I find them completely meaningless, and to help me understand who I was from a really un-cliché-ed point of view. I think we succeeded in that…There are things she cares about deeply, but she probably doesn’t care about the same things the Defenders care about, so that puts them on a collision course. In many ways, she’s an admirable person. (Emphasis original)
The description is interesting, while not really limiting the options of who exactly she is referring to. Overall the approach seems to fit perfectly within the vein of the Netflix MCU shows thus far. Kingpin and Punisher were both sympathetic in a way, all of Luke Cage‘s villains had some sort of deeper thoughts about who they were and what they were doing, and even Kilgrave was more than pure madness with his abusive past subplot. The comments are also reminiscent of the way Kaecilius came about in Doctor Strange. Given that female antagonists are still too rare in comic properties, it is encouraging to see Weaver worked hard to help the writing room not make her a simple trope.
If Weaver is being super clever, she may have been hinting toward a popular fan theory. “Adversary” is a common translation for the Hebrew satan, the word from which modern Judeo-Christian concepts of the Devil or Satan come from. Within early Jewish thought on the subject, Satan is primarily an adversary who accuses people of sin, like a prosecuting attorney in Heaven’s court. Given the linguistic origins, maybe she is trying to tell fans that she is, in fact, Mephisto, as some have been thinking she could be. I personally find that a little bit of an odd choice for street level heroes, but the fan theory has been going strong for a long time.
Showrunner Marco Ramirez also had a few thoughts on the character. He does suggest that there will be a mythical quality to her character.
In her career, she’s come up against a lot of different people — armies, mercenaries, devoted religious fanatics and all kinds of different groups — who have tried to take her down, but she’s never met four people who are seemingly just interested in taking care of this one little part of New York. I think she’s actually really charmed by it, and weirdly, because they’re unlike anybody she’s ever faced off against before, it’s intimidating to her.
To me, this sounds more and more like the Beast or some other ancient Hand entity. Not many people take on “armies” and “religious fanatics” in their “career.” It seems that her character will tie in somehow with the Hand and Madame Gao. How that all works will be interesting. Her ambiguity here seems to fit with the way many feel about Gao in the shows as well. While sometimes things have seemed a bit muddled in the mythology, overall there has been a reluctance to show the Chaste as a perfect heroic bunch. The connection between Gao, Danny Rand, and K’un Lun is still hazy. All of that hopefully will come to an interesting head in the end.
The characters biggest attribute is a Darwinian desire to survive. That would seem to fit nicely with the Hand and their focus on finding a way to keep living after death.
Above all else, she cares about living. She’s about self-preservation, and self-preservation at all costs… She has the long game in mind, and she isn’t thinking about this chess game, she’s thinking about six chess games in the future. As such, I think she’s seen a lot of beauty in humanity and in the world, but there are certain things that to her are expendable, and that’s a really dangerous worldview.
From a philosophical perspective, this is a perfect villain to bring across the path of the Defenders. From Matt’s recklessness and seeming death wish to Jessica’s pessimism to Luke’s instinct to just survive the day to Danny’s carefree child-like enthusiasm, these characters are not particularly known for long term planning. They all have a legitimate problem with impulsive behavior, not thinking thru the consequences. In that way, Weaver’s adversary already has a legitimate point of difference with our heroes, and one that the audience can appreciate.
What do you think? Who will Weaver be playing? Are you ok with the show going into the mystical or is that the wrong choice for these street heroes? Share your thoughts in the comments below.