Selma Blair in ‘Hellboy II’: Finally, a Superwoman in a Superhero Movie!

Photo: Courtesy of Universal

Liz is no overly weepy, stiletto-wearing damsel in distress. She is a confident, powerful member of the B.P.R.D., skillful and powerful with her pyrotechnics — as well as with a gun. She's not even a sidekick. As Ron Perlman noted in our recent interview, Liz gets equal screen time with the film's other heroes — and she gets equal stake in the action, too. What's more, endangerment is never an issue for Liz. In fact, Hellboy II turns the superhero rescue convention on its head by putting the title character's life in imminent danger, with Liz leading the charge to save him.

Liz is no overly weepy, stiletto-wearing damsel in distress. She is a confident, powerful member of the B.P.R.D., skillful and powerful with her pyrotechnics — as well as with a gun. She's not even a sidekick. As Ron Perlman noted in our recent interview, Liz gets equal screen time with the film's other heroes — and she gets equal stake in the action, too. What's more, endangerment is never an issue for Liz. In fact, Hellboy II turns the superhero rescue convention on its head by putting the title character's life in imminent danger, with Liz leading the charge to save him.

Best of all, though, is that for all of this equal treatment, Liz is definitely not just another one of the guys.

Warning: Major spoilers ahead.

Liz is, in fact, quite the woman, and must contend with that fact right from the film's beginning, when — just before she unleashes a colossal inferno that toasts a nasty pack of flesh-chomping critters — she learns she's pregnant. But this is no delicate condition for Liz. She is, after all, carrying demon-spawn. One of the biggest challenges to coming to terms with her pregnancy is how it complicates already thorny domestic issues with her often exasperating Hellboyfriend. She contemplates, but she does not brood — after all, she has a lover and a world to save. Pregnancy is just one of the issues she faces, and it doesn't threaten to overwhelm or engulf her identity.

This is perhaps the true breakthrough of Liz Sherman in Guillermo del Toro's film: She does not provide a convenient moral conscience, an emotional life, or some kind of feminine balance for a titular superhero. She is a complete, three-dimensional, independent female character. In any big-budget Hollywood movie, this would be accomplishment; in a summer superhero blockbuster and the No. 1 movie of the weekend, it's a miracle. —Tammy Oler

Earlier: Where Are the Roles for Superwomen?