Hellboy II: The Golden Army – Where did Liz Sherman go?

I am so disappointed.

Selma Blair plays Liz Sherman in Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and she’s made a point of mentioning in interviews how much more badass Liz is supposed to be in this sequel. As I said in my review of the first Hellboy, she was basically The Girlfriend, serving as bait, damsel in distress, and mopey not-quite-superheroine. I had hoped, though, that Golden Army would let her character evolve, own her firestarting powers, and become a real member of the team.

Oh well.

The first time we see her, she’s playing Nagging Girlfriend, screeching about how Hellboy never cleans his room. Her voice even sounded wrong, more high pitched.

Then they did something to her storyline that I just could not believe. I don’t want to tell you, I don’t want to spoiler, but I can’t think of a better way to sideline any real character development of Liz as an action heroine than to do what they did. It’d as if they were shouting “Hey, she’s a woman! Hey! Hey, she’s a woman! She only exists in relationship to Hellboy!”

To be fair, there was less coddling of Liz in this movie than in the first. She didn’t end up lifeless on an altar wearing a gown made out of ugly curtains, for example. She gets to shoot a gun. She does use her powers at times, and she doesn’t end up unconscious. She doesn’t even have to ask a man to hit her to make them work.

You see what I’m reduced to here? She doesn’t have to ask a man to hit her. Oh yeah, what a feminist triumph.

I was also extremely annoyed by the trope of “man does the wrong thing because he loves a woman, even though she begs him to do the right thing.” It’s supposed to be all wonderful and show the power of love and all that crap, but if I say to my boyfriend “Don’t fuck up the entire world to save me,” and he doesn’t listen, I’m going to be pissed off. I don’t want someone to “love” me so much that they don’t care about my opinion of right and wrong or share that opinion, or who is willing to have everyone on the planet die so he doesn’t have to lose me. That’s disgusting. Again, not wanting to spoil, but in this case I think he got what he deserved when it went differently than he planned.

In addition to Liz, we get Princess Nuala, played by Anna Walton. She’s not as fun as the murderous Nazi babe from the first movie, but I liked her. She was really afraid, but she still did her best. If Walton hadn’t been pregnant during the filming and could have done some action work, she might have been even cooler. It would have been a nice change to have two women on one side.

The closest the film came to including people of color was Hellboy being red and Abe being blue, which is to say that their casting diversity sucked.

I can muster up exactly one star for this one. It’s a male bonding movie with girls as decoration, and those girls are slightly interesting. I don’t mind there being male bonding movies, and I wouldn’t even avoid seeing them, but my expectations were a little too high for the heroine content in this one.

More commentary:

This post was originally published on Heroine Content, a feminist and anti-racist movie blog that ran from July 2006 to May 2012.

3 thoughts on “Hellboy II: The Golden Army – Where did Liz Sherman go?

  1. SunlessNick

    And here I was hoping they’d have Kate Corrigan. But in the light of what you’re saying, maybe I shouldn’t really hope for that.

  2. prof bw

    I just wanted to point out that Liz did the same thing, ie putting “her man” first before the fate of the entire world. I found both versions offensive. (My review was much less pointed, but mostly b/c I didn’t think there was enough character development of any of the characters accept Prince Nuada to really bother.) And the thing that you are not saying about Liz, is a set up for the third film and the hinted at plotline, it doesn’t make up for the fact she was basically sidelined but that is why it is there.

  3. Skye

    Yes, Liz did the same thing, but I kind of let that go as a more “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” deal. Unfair of me, yes.

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